Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Philip A. Murphy-Sweet has services ahead of burial at Arlington

In one photo, a man in a crisp white Navy uniform salutes in a ceremony — and in another picture, the same man laughs as two colorful kids’ party hats perch on his head like horns.

The photo collages in the church hallway showed people the many sides of Commander Philip Murphy-Sweet.

Murphy-Sweet, the director of maritime weapons systems at the Naval Inventory Control Point in Hampden Township, viewed his Navy position as just a job, his wife of 16 years said Monday at his funeral. His real passions, she said, were his family and his faith.

The father of three made funny faces at his younger daughter, Lauren, from work via a Webcam. He asked his son, Seth, to keep his dad up to date on the latest gadgets, and he discussed the trials of middle school life with his daughter Olivia.

The children “were his proudest accomplishments,” Cheryl Murphy-Sweet said during her husband’s eulogy at a funeral mass at Church of the Good Shepherd in Camp Hill Monday. He is scheduled to be buried today at Arlington National Cemetery.

The 42-year-old Hampden Township man was killed in Baghdad on April 7 by an improvised explosive device. He was near the end of a six-month assignment as a contracting officer supporting coalition troops in logistics, setting up services and supplies.

Faith and family first

The Navy supply corps commander’s job wasn’t the most important part of his life, agreed the Rev. Michael Rothan.

His faith and his family came first, Rothan said. “In the days before Phil left for Iraq, he had a day with his wife and with each of his children.”

Murphy-Sweet and his family have been members of that parish for about a year, and the officer started his day at the church’s 6:30 a.m. Mass.

Murphy-Sweet knew the dangers of his first land assignment in Iraq and volunteered for it anyway, his wife said during the service. “We spent many long hours discussing the good, the bad and the ugly realities of this war.”

The couple made every decision together, she said, including the decision three weeks before his death that he would lead the Rule of Law Green Zone project.

“Phil died with his boots on,” his wife said. “He loved to lead from the front of the troops and not from behind a desk.”

At Monday’s funeral, about 250 Boy and Girl Scouts lined the driveway as Murphy-Sweet’s casket was brought into the church. As flags flapped in the high winds, several members of the Patriot Riders lined the sidewalk leading into the church. About 500 attended the funeral mass itself.

The crucifix he took with him everywhere was placed on his casket during the Mass.

Family photos shared

Family photos of the slain man showed him at Navy functions, on pleasure trips abroad, kissing his wife on their wedding day, catching a big fish and hamming it up with his kids at a birthday party.

Another collage showed maps of Iraq as well as snippets of e-mails Murphy-Sweet wrote to his family. “It is a land of extreme contrasts,” he wrote.

“Rich palaces and luxurious grounds ... contrast to poor children and poverty in a land that is garbage-strewn with open sewers.”

Helpful to others

Murphy-Sweet often “helped out strangers” and stray animals, Rothan said.

The priest said he hoped that in heaven, Murphy-Sweet “would begin to discover all the small ways that God used him to change the world.”

From the Carlisle Sentinel

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