Team of Sayville residents raising money for veteran museum


Taking advantage of the entertaining pull of next weekend’s Army-Navy college football game, a group of Sayville residents joined forces to raise money for the LT Michael P. Murphy Navy SEAL Museum in West Sayville.

The event will take place at the Portly Villager with a viewing party on Saturday, Dec. 14 at 3 p.m. with football boxes and a free drink and appetizers. Dan Murphy, Michael Murphy’s father, will also be in attendance, bringing the Medal of Honor for the crowd to see. 

“The LT Michael P. Murphy Navy SEAL Museum’s board as well as the Murphy family are thrilled that the museum has such strong support from the community and representatives within the Islip/Sayville community in which the museum will be based,” said Murphy, happy to be a part of the second annual fundraiser. “They have taken it upon themselves to assist in raising badly needed funds to complete the interior displays of the museum. Within the Special Operations Community, they are well aware that Suffolk County, Islip Town and the communities of Sayville and Patchogue know how to honor their heroes, and that’s a great testament to our citizens,” he added. “Go Navy, beat Army!”

Tickets to the event are $20; sponsorships are available for $50. The game starts at 3 p.m. and all the proceeds will go toward the LT Michael P. Murphy Navy SEAL Museum, which will also be home to the cadets. The division was named in honor of LT Michael Murphy, the Navy SEAL and Patchogue Medal of Honor recipient who was killed in Afghanistan in 2005.

Last year, a two-staged event was held, according to organizer James Bertsch, including the Big Ten Hero Game at four locations in Sayville during the Penn State and Wisconsin game. Then, another was held during the Army-Navy game at the Portly. It was so successful, he said, they decided to run one larger event during that game this year.

Rob Blair, past president of the Greater Sayville Chamber of Commerce, joined the effort and presented it to the museum board, which gratefully accepted the fundraiser. Then, they tapped Kevin Wilson of Sayville Cares, who helped get the formal resources of the organization together. 

“Anything with the military behind it, especially one with a local hero, I am behind,” Blair said of his involvement. “It’s a [great] local cause, a museum for a local hero in West Sayville… the perfect trifecta.”

Others also began to join, including John McGorty, Sal Graziano, and chamber president Eileen Tyznar. New this year is firefighter Chris Bailey. 

Graziano, also a Sayville resident, said he became involved through his knowledge of Murphy’s story. “I wanted to help the museum being built right in our backyard dedicated to a local war hero,” he added.

Last year, the group raised about $10,000. This year the hope is to meet or beat that, and to continue the effort year after year to help with operating costs. But their ultimate goal and focus is to honor Michael P. Murphy with the hopes of weaving his memory into the fabric of the town with the museum.

“We live in pretty divided times.  We need this museum.  Has America ever needed heroes—something or someone that we all believe in—more than we do now?” said Bertsch as to why he helped organize the team. “And here we have a bonafide hero, a Pat-Med kid, whose museum is built right here in our town. God is talking to us. The seven of us and the people who go to this event are listening.”


In November, officials broke ground on the site of the LT Michael P. Murphy Navy SEAL Museum. The building was first introduced by Legis. Bill Lindsey last year to honor the elite SEALS. 

Michael Murphy graduated from Patchogue-Medford High School (Class of ’94) and Pennsylvania State University (Class of ’98), before becoming a United States Navy SEAL lieutenant in 2002. Murphy was killed in action on June 28, 2005 while serving in Afghanistan. For his heroic actions, he was awarded the Medal of Honor, making him the first member of the Navy to receive the award since the Vietnam War. 

The museum will eventually become dual-purpose: one half a museum and the other half a sea cadet training facility. Located next to the Long Island Maritime Museum on West Avenue, the state-of-the-art facility will be the first Navy SEAL museum in the Northeast, as well as only the third SEAL museum in the entire United States. 


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