When Erin and Sam were in Bethesda at the National Naval Medical Center, they received a visit from Barney Barnum who is the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Reserve Affairs). Mr Barnum was the fourth Marine to be awarded the nation’s highest honor, the Medal of Honor, for valor in Vietnam. During his visit, Mr. Barnum gave Sam and Erin the Medal of Honor book that documents all of the recipients of this award. When I was visiting them in Bethesda, I remember looking through the book and getting goose bumps as I read through the pages of stories about these brave soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen.
On October 22, 2007 there was a ceremony posthumously awarding 1LT Michael P. Murphy the Congressional Medal of Honor for his heroic actions in Afghanistan on June 28, 2005. 1LT Murphy was the first Navy officer awarded the Medal of Honor while serving in a combat zone in Afghanistan or Iraq and is the third recipient of the award since these two conflicts started. After the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center, 1LT Murphy passed up law school after graduating with honors from Penn State to become a Navy Seal.
LT Murphy and three other Navy Seals were on a reconnaissance mission in the Afghanistan mountains when they happened upon a few goat herders. The Seals took the humane risk of letting the goat herders go on their way, thus jeopardizing the secrecy of their mission. A few hours later, the team was confronted by around 100 Taliban fighters who they now believe were tipped off by the goat herders. The Seals were pinned down and unable to contact reinforcements so LT Murphy crawled out into the open where he was susceptible to enemy fire, but could get a good signal on this radio to call for help. After calling in their location and receiving two gunshot wounds, LT Murphy died.
On the day 1LT Murphy was buried with full honors, his mother received an email from him that was written three months before and somehow got stuck on an email server. It said “Momma, I’m home safe and sound”. Mrs. Murphy said she felt it was her son saying to her, “It’s OK Mom, I’m OK”.
The video below is the ceremony awarding the Congressional Medal of Honor to the mother and father of 1LT Michael Murphy. Considering the time we waste watching mostly mindless TV and movies, this nine minute video is well worth the time spent. This man gave his life for his men and his country.
Sam’s medical status:
Tuesday October 23rd, 2007: Sam had a CatScan today to determine why he has had a low grade fever. His liver enzymes are off which is an indication his gallbladder is infected. The fever usually only occurs at night.
Sam continues to get more vocal. The doctors should be removing his trach tube tomorrow.
I’ve mentioned quite a bit about Sam’s right arm and how well he is using it. His left arm seems to be tightening up quite a bit and he has trouble relaxing it. Today he received Botox treatments to help relax those muscles. Erin said now his arm looks five years younger!
Wednesday October 24th, 2007: Today Sam’s trach tube was removed. It came out easily with no complications. He’s not exactly talking but he is experimenting with making new sounds.
The CatScan on his abdomen was done yesterday and his lungs are clear. The test on his gallbladder was also clean. They believe the fever is just from the TBI or from his right elbow (the one he had surgery on).
Thursday October 25th, 2007: Sam scored a 17 on the CRS (coma recovery scale) today. Last week he was a 15 and his first week at the VA hospital in Palo Alto, he was an 11—so he just keeps getting better and better.
Sam has a pretty bad wound on his right heal that has old dead scar tissue (another one of the minor wounds that I’ve probably never mentioned before)—the dead tissue needs to be removed to make way for new tissue. That procedure should be performed today.
The stage two burns on Sam’s backside are doing well. The more serious wounds are not healing like they should be so the hospital is getting him a different type of bed—more similar to the one he had in Bethesda. The bed has air chambers that inflate and deflate which helps minimize bed sores. The will also be rotating his hips every two hours to alleviate the pressure.