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Pittsburgher in key position on destroyer crew

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Saturday, Oct. 6, 2012, 12:01 a.m.
 

A Perry Traditional Academy graduate who joined the U.S. Navy in 1991 will be the most senior enlisted sailor on a destroyer to be commissioned Saturday in Manhattan.

Command Master Chief Matthew E. Danforth has joined the crew of the USS Michael Murphy.

The new guided missile destroyer honors Lt. Michael P. Murphy, a Navy SEAL posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions in combat as leader of a four-man reconnaissance team in Afghanistan.

Murphy, who attended Penn State University, was killed June 28, 2005, during a fierce gun battle near Asadabad, Afghanistan.

Danforth will be the primary liaison between commissioned officers and 290 enlisted sailors.

He almost left the Navy after his first assignment at the Naval Station in Sigonella, Sicily, but said he plans to serve another 15 years.

“I lost a lot of friends to drugs, drive-by shootings,” he said. “I was about 60 days from getting out and my dad said, ‘What will you come back to?'”

He stayed in and now hopes to serve on an aircraft carrier or in Washington.

The commissioning of the destroyer will be exciting.

“It will be the moment we bring the Murphy to life,” he said.

Danforth and the crew have been treated like royalty in New York, attending Broadway shows and ringing the bell on the New York Stock Exchange.

He participated in the “Shock and Awe” campaign against Baghdad and served two 7th Fleet deployments in the South China Sea.

But underneath, he remains a Pittsburgher. “I bleed black and gold,” he said.

Danforth also served on the USS Lake Erie, the USS O'Kane; and at the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility.

A graduate of the Navy Senior Enlisted Academy (Class 134 Blue) in Newport, R.I. , he holds an associate in arts degree from Chaminade University, a Catholic university in Honolulu.

He has received the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (three awards), Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal (three awards), Enlisted Surface Warfare Insignia, and numerous campaign awards.

Craig Smith is a reporter for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5646 or csmith@tribweb.com.

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