Freddy Rodriguez lives in the same town as fallen Navy SEAL Lt. Michael Murphy. Murphy won the Medal of Honor for his courageous and brave act of exposing his body to a storm of gunfire in order to contact his headquarters to request assistance in a dire situation. Though Rodriguez never served in the military himself, he has always admired the sacrifice these men make.
Rodriguez found a way to honor Lt. Michael Murphy and the other members of Operations Red Wings. He created the 50 Miles for Murph run with just himself and a friend, and it's blossomed into much more. Learn more about Rodriguez and his efforts to honor Muprh and Operation Red Wings.
KC: How did this run come about?
FR: Murph has always been a personal hero of mine. He was a Long Island native, so the news of his death was everywhere. I read Lone Survivor and SEAL of Honor: Operation Red Wings and the Life of LT. Michael P. Murphy. For my 25th birthday, a friend and I rucked with 25lbs from my house in Long Island to the Polar Bear plunge that was 14 miles away. We carried American flags and wore military support shirts. We were getting honked at and supported along the way. Afterward, we wondered why we didn’t raise any money for this run. My friend reached out to the Seal of Honor to see if there’s any significance to do a run in New York and he was pointed to the Run Around the Lake, a four-mile run around Lake Ronkonkokma.
I wanted to do that run, but I wanted to do something extra for the four-mile run. My friend Kim from the SEAL of Honor page on Facebook suggested that I start from the firehouse that Murphy represented with a patch on his uniform. It was 50 miles and I thought that thought that was going to be rough, it was nothing compared to the sacrifice that Murphy and his fellow SEALS went through on that mountain. My same friend and I did the first run in 2013 and it was just us.
KC: How much have you been able to raise so far? Do you have any fundraising goals for 2019?
FR: Throughout the years, I think we’re up to eight to ten thousand. Last year we raised over three thousand. This year, we want to break five thousand and hopefully raise ten thousand total. We donate the money to the Lt. Michael Murphy Memorial Scholarship Foundation, Navy SEAL Foundation, Lone Survivor Foundation, and the Special Warfare Operations Foundation.
KC: How has the Navy SEAL community embraced this run?
FR: Throughout the years, I’ve had to pleasure to meet and communicate via various platforms with family members of those from Operation Red Wings. The Airborne Tri Team first joined me in 2016 and have run with me since. Because I’m just a civilian, I think they’re even more appreciative that a non-military guy is doing all of this.
KC: Can you express what this run means to you?
FR: To me, it’s hard to put into words. I never saw it growing into what it grew into. It started with my friend Jeff. Now there are so many people volunteering to run, donate, or just support us through our run in the middle of the night. Just the fact that I can play a small part that I can help their memory move on is a great experience.
KC: What does Kill the Quit mean to you?
FR: When you have doubt about yourself, I think killing the quit is being stronger than those excuses. You can always stop and feel more comfortable. However, embracing the uncomfortable is where you will find what you’re truly capable of and where you will grow the most. You never know, your hard work could help inspire someone and to me, that’s worth it.