Murph: The Protector

Synopsis: A documentary based on the honor, courage and commitment of Navy SEAL LT Michael P. Murphy, who gave his life for his men in 2005 and was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor in 2007.
Genre: Documentary
Director(s): Scott Mactavish
Production: Mactavish Pictures
Rotten Tomatoes:
79 min

I got a phone call one day

from the principal.

And he said, "Mrs. Murphy,

I have to call you on this," he goes,

"but Mike's not really in trouble.

I have to tell you because

we gotta report these things."

He says,

"Mike was in a fight."

I know there was a kid in school

at one point when he was younger

that they were bullying,

and he wouldn't put up with it.

Some of these kids

were bullying a child

who was in...

who had learning disabilities.

So they were trying

to stuff him in a locker,

you know, thinking it was funny.

And Mike came along and,

you know, told them, "Let him go."

A lot of people say things

about people that passed away

and they might

rightfully be glorified,

but anything that has ever been said

about Mike is spot-on true.

The little kid

was really scared.

He was like...

you know, he thanked Mike.

He was Michael the protector.

And that's what he was doing.

When we were lifeguards, we would have

so-called "lifeguard parties."

And, you know, every now and then

someone would get out of control.

And if there was a mismatch

in a fight with someone,

Mike would make sure

that it "evened out," let's say.

And he would, you know,

stand to that guy's guard.

He was always

very protective of people.

He reflected that in his whole life.

It was always

"please" and "thank you"

and the protector image

that he projected.

I said that, you know,

"You treat people

the way you want to be treated."

Which was,

"It's not about me, it's about you."

And he really was a protector.

This one person

made such an impact

on everything, you know.

But he was the protector.

Well, we moved to Patchogue

when Mike was about two and half.

And, you know, he was little.

And we had a house built.

And his room

was up on the second floor.

And for a little man, I mean,

he couldn't wait

to get his own room.

He went up into that room,

into his first captain's bed,

'cause he wasn't gonna get

the crib, you know,

and he went to bed,

said good night, and that was it.

Never bothered for water or...

he was that kind of a kid. He was

very mature even for a little guy.

Mike wasn't afraid of anything.

He would just go and do it.

And once he got his mind set to it,

he was doing it

and nobody was stopping him.

We took him

into my neighbor's pool.

We didn't have a pool back then.

And he was like... loved the water.

He just loved it.

And one day

he just walked over there

and thought he could go in it

and dove in.

And I got in the water,

picked him up.

And, you know, I see this little face

looking at me through the water.

And I picked him up and I put

the towel around him and I said,

"Don't do that. You can't go in there

unless an adult goes in with you."

And as I turned to put the towel,

he dove in again.

So he just was like

a little water bug.

Mike is my cousin.

We grew up together.

He lived five minutes

from my house.

We went to middle school together.

We went to high school together.

And he always had kids to play with.

Even though he was an only child,

he always had, you know,

cousins and friends to play with.

So my back yard was like

the back yard for all the kids.

We were just playing roller hockey

and stuff in his driveway.

And even then

he might not have been even

the best skater at that time,

but he was diving, blocking shots,

poke-checking, in your way.

He was the guy that got

the skinned knee and kept going.

He had a group of friends.

I wouldn't say

that Mike was the guy

that was jumping

from friends to friends.

He had this core group of guys

that were his buddies,

guys that remained his friends

for the rest of his life.

When we were kids,

we were playing football

across the street

from his mother's house.

I launched a pass to him

and it was so far to the right.

He actually dove and laid out

like it was an ESPN commercial.

He disappeared into the hedges.

And I remember thinking to myself,

"My God, what happened to Mike?"

He came out.

He was full of blood, mud,

his shirt ripped,

a hole in his pants.

Walked out, he went, "Touchdown!"

and dropped the ball and walked away.

Mike was an only child

for a long time.

And 10 years later I had John.

And he never said he wanted

a brother or a sister,

but I think he really wanted

a brother.

And I was in the hospital

and I had John.

And that afternoon

Mike comes walking in the hospital,

and it was really cute... he bounces up

on the side of the bed and he says,

"Mom, you made me

the happiest kid. I have a brother."

Brought tears to my eyes.

I remember going

to the games a lot.

And I remember

at the football games,

of course football

being in the fall and the winter,

sitting on the bench,

watching Michael play

and also at the same time

kind of feeling cold,

like, "How much longer do I have

to be here? I'd rather be home,"

you know,

play with toys or something

and, you know,

in the nice, warm weather.

But, I mean, still watching him play.

It was nice to watch him play.

Michael was such a good kid

that he would go with his father

on the slightest errands.

Dan would say, "Let's go

across the street to 7-Eleven,"

and Michael would say, "Okay, Pop."

And off they would go to 7-Eleven.

As a real young boy,

he was always in a good mood,

always happy. And he was...

he was up for everything.

His dogs Blackie and Charlie...

he would tell you

what was going on with them.

And he'd always be devoted to them,

making sure they had water

and letting them out,

making sure they were okay.

He was a great swimmer.

And they had a pool in the back yard.

And he would do silly dives,

whether it was cannonballs or...

Dan used to do

something called "pencil."

And Mike would do that

because he was...

he loved swimming.

He loved the water.

Michael Murphy.

Come on, Michael,

you're the youngest one there.


Where is he?

It was chaotic and fun.

Typical Michael...

when the girls moved in,

they were... I mean, they were...

I think Cathy was nine,

Kelly was 11 and Colleen was 12.

My dad passed away

when I was younger.

And Aunt Maureen had taken me

and my sisters

and gave us, you know,

a family and a place to live.

Their father had died of cancer.

Their mother had basically

abandoned them.

And their grandmother

literally wanted

to move them along.

Michael and I laughed

because she was so intent

on getting them out of her house

that she delivered them to us

in the middle of a snowstorm.

Mike gave up his room

and, you know, we became

like brothers and sisters.

"Mom, Dad, the girls

have to stay somewhere.

I'll move out of the big room

so they can go in that room."

And always helped me,

you know, study.

If I didn't know something,

he would help me, teach me.

He actually taught me to drive.

Tell me more about that.

Yeah, my first car was his first car.

And he'd take me to a parking lot

of an abandoned supermarket

or empty supermarket,

and he'd teach me

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Scott Mactavish

Scott Mactavish is an American filmmaker and author. Scott Mactavish recently wrote, produced and directed the films entitled MURPH: The Protector and God and Country: Untold Stories of the American Military. Prior to that, he made Summer Running: The Race to Cure Breast Cancer featuring Sissy Spacek. He has also served as executive producer on five films in as many years, including Chagas, directed by Ricardo Preve. Mactavish attended film School at New York University, and upon graduation, worked on major studio projects and independent features while writing original screenplays at night. He was a Goomba in the 1993 film Super Mario Bros. and an uncredited stunt double in The Crow. He launched his own production company in 1998 and has produced dozens of films and videos, with an emphasis on stories of honor, courage and commitment. Scott is the author of The New Dad's Survival Guide", published by Little, Brown and Co., and Co-author of "Battle Ready: Memoir of a SEAL Warrior Medic", published by St. Martin's Press. As a freelance writer, he has contributed to Indiewire, Windcheck, and Film Threat. Mactavish is a veteran of the United States Navy. He attended boot camp at the Recruit Training Command in San Diego, California and served with Submarine Squadron 6, aboard the USS L.Y. Spear, and in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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