Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Philip A. Murphy-Sweet dies 'as a result of enemy action'

A Navy commander who volunteered for a six-month tour of duty in Iraq was killed less than a month before he was scheduled to return home to Pennsylvania, Navy officials said Tuesday.

Cmdr. Philip A. Murphy-Sweet, 42, of Mechanicsburg, was riding in a vehicle that struck a roadside bomb Saturday in Baghdad, officials said. It was not clear whether there were other casualties, Navy officials said.

Murphy-Sweet spent 16 years in the Navy and had been stationed at the Naval Inventory Control Point in Mechanicsburg since December 2004. He was the installation's first officer to be killed in Iraq, said his commanding officer, Rear Adm. Michael S. Roesner.

Murphy-Sweet went to Iraq in November and was serving as a contracting officer supporting coalition troops, Roesner said.

"He had his whole family's support, knowing full well that any time anybody goes into a combat zone, these kinds of things will happen," Roesner said.

Murphy-Sweet eagerly volunteered for the assignment, which called for him to procure services and materials needed by the troops, such as courtroom facilities, Roesner said. The job demanded that he work with contractors in Iraq, the United States and other countries, he said.

"When the call came out that we needed to send a contracting expert ... he raised his hand immediately," Roesner said. "I think that's exactly the way he treated every challenge."

Murphy-Sweet was well-known and respected for his contracting expertise, and he always approached his job with a positive outlook, Roesner said.

"I never, ever saw him downbeat or negative towards any portion of the job, and we have some significant challenges," Roesner said.

Born in Phoenix, Murphy-Sweet became a commissioned officer after he graduated from the University of Idaho in 1991. He was promoted to commander in June.

He is survived by his wife, Cheryl, two daughters, and a son. A funeral is planned for Monday in Camp Hill, and he will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery near Washington on April 17, a Navy spokeswoman said.