The Long Island Navy SEAL Museum: A Shrine to Military Excellence

Photo by Carol Chessman .

Throughout the ages, there have been many formidable military units: The Hoplites of Ancient Greece, the Immortals of Persia, Caesar’s 10th Legion and the Praetorian Guard of the Roman Empire, the Samurai of Feudal Japan, the Knights and Longbowmen of Medieval Europe and the Janissaries of the Ottoman Empire, to name a few. Following these legends are the Navy SEALs (sea-air-land), a remarkable branch of U.S. Special Forces.

On the South Shore of Sayville, right next to the golf course, lies the LT Michael Murphy USN Memorial SEAL Museum, a tribute to this elite naval force. It is nondescript from the outside, with its stately design and finely maintained grounds. Inside, we find a collection of artifacts, memorabilia and histories of this incredible fighting force, a shrine to military excellence.

Each branch of the Service has its own elite corps: Army Special Forces (Green Berets and Rangers), Marine Force Recon and Air Force Combat Controllers for example. All are incredibly challenging, yet the Navy SEALs has stark credibility due to its underwater demolition training and other disciplines. It is indeed an accomplishment to make it through the rigorous, brutal and unforgiving training of Basic Underwater Demolition (BUD) SEAL training. They are fearless candidates with many dropping out on request (DOR) after initial workouts. The dogged determination and grit of these elite warriors pull them through Hell Week and beyond.

Upon walking into the museum, you will learn about the incredible history of this division, originally known as frogmen, trained for underwater demolition missions in WWII. From there, it evolved into a more complex, sophisticated and dangerous military unit used in highly perilous combat and rescue missions. There are displays featuring weaponry, gear and accoutrements needed in their exercises.

What is most moving are the stories of these heroic men who risked their lives to secure the safety of our country. The compelling account of LT Michael Murphy, as told by his father (a volunteer), is alone worth the price of admission. The fearless comrade sacrificing his life in Afghanistan for his fellow SEALs to communicate their position, knowing certain death was impending, it made no difference. These are the heroes of our times, honored for eternity in the catalogue of military heroism. Humble and modest, not boastful but dedicated to the service and protection of our people. The epitome of selfless team play, a concept seemingly lost in our materialistic society. It is an honor to see them recognized in this way.

As most Baby Boomers will attest, we are a generation long removed from today’s world. Our fathers fought in WWII and Korea, old time veterans with tremendous patriotism. We watched “Combat,” “Twelve O’Clock High” and the “Rat Patrol” on TV and played Army after school on the local fields of strife. Our enthusiasm was not challenged. However, it is a brave new world today, a new century with different values, goals and dreams. Who will answer the call to our nation’s defense? It takes a dedicated, driven and determined young person to achieve the goal of the SEAL trident, after a year’s training.

Walking away from the Museum with its fine gift shop, books and memorabilia, one will be moved. This is a visit worth making and what better time than Memorial Day Weekend. Military service is not for everyone but especially the Navy SEALs. The title of the Wilfred Owen poem “Dulce et Decorum Est” (It is Sweet and Befitting to Die for One’s Country) is not taken lightly here, but with reverence and respect. It is not an old lie but a living truth for these warriors.