WEST SAYVILLE, New York (WABC) -- A museum honoring a fallen hero from Long Island opened with a dedication ceremony and ribbon cutting on Tuesday.
Over 1,000 people, including VIP military officers, politicians, and celebrities, attended the opening of the LT Michael P. Murphy Navy SEAL Museum in West Sayville.
"Suffolk County is home to more veterans than any county in New York and just about any county in the United States of America," Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said.
Murphy, a Smithtown native, was a United States Navy SEAL officer awarded the U.S. military's highest decoration, the Medal of Honor, for his actions during the War in Afghanistan. He was the first member of the United States Navy to receive this award since the Vietnam War.
Murphy was killed on June 28, 2005 when he stepped into the open to make a satellite call to help save three fellow SEALs during a firefight with the Taliban.
Murphy managed to give his location before being gravely wounded.
The museum will honor all U.S. special war-fare operators who served and sacrificed for our country.
Murphy's picture is among 314 Navy SEALs hanging on memorial wall. All of them were killed in the line of duty.
"We'd give it all back to have Michael walk through the door," his father, Daniel Murphy, said. "But if we take anything from today it's that Michael opened the door to learn about Naval special operations and our special warriors."
The LT Michael P. Murphy Navy SEAL Museum is one of only two such museums in the United States and is the only one of its kind on the east coast.
Former President George W. Bush sent a video message welcoming the first guests.
"From their earliest days in World War II, Navy Special Warfare forces have occupied a special place in American military history," Bush said.
Designed to educate the public on the history and missions of the Special Operators and this elite branch of the Navy, the museum will preserve and share the history and honor of all United States Special Warfare Operators who have served and sacrificed for their country.
Navy SEAL Rob O'Neill, who killed Osama Bin Laden, said the exhibit brings back memories of when he first enlisted.
"It just brings me back because it doesn't matter if you're a four star Navy SEAL admiral or the guy that goes into Osama Bin Laden's bedroom," O'Neill said. "We all had our first day somewhere, and we were all scared."
The museum aims inspire and engage visitors with state-of-the-art exhibits, films, videos, and opportunities to interact with the SEAL community, communicating an ethos of "service above self" and the meaning - and the price - of freedom.
The facility will also operate as the new home of the LT Michael Murphy Division of the United States Naval Sea Cadet Corps, a national youth leadership development program that promotes interest and skill in naval disciples through leadership and technical programs modeled after the Navy's professional development system.
For more information, please visit LT Michael P. Murphy Navy SEAL Museum & Sea Cadet Training Facility online.