Birmingham-based Morgan Murphy and I have known each other since junior high school. So, when I saw him posting about the US military efforts to combat the spread of COVID-19, I reached out to find out more. You may have come across his foodie books or fun videos, or perhaps you both share a love of vintage cars. Either way, here’s what he had to say.
1. Tell us what you do in Birmingham
Murphy: When I’m not playing with my 5-year-old son or Gordon Setter… The best way to answer this is to point you to Morgan Murphy’s Taste of Victory Bacon. This is the company I run with my co-founder (and sister) Lauren Murphy Ward.
We have the world’s best bacon, made right here in Alabama. When we named the company, we never expected that the country would be in an existential fight, yet both Lauren and I feel the name is appropriate. We put Victory! on just about everything we make. It’s the spirit of our brand, and we think, the country.
2. What are you doing right now with the Pentagon in response to the novel coronavirus / COVID-19?
Murphy: I was called to the Pentagon to work for the Secretary of Defense, Dr. Mark Esper, specifically on his COVID-19 response team. I work in his office for Public Affairs and spend most of my time working on the Secretary’s social media.
Through his channels on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram we reached 36 million people last week alone, so it is a powerful medium to combat misinformation.
Some of that misinformation is simply rumor. At other times it can be deliberately placed by bad actors who are seeking to undermine the country during this challenging time.
The Secretary’s authority and voice are a powerful way to quickly combat that misinformation.
3. Who all is involved?
Murphy: We are engaged in what I refer to as a “whole-of-nation” effort: it will take all of us to defeat this threat to our economy, culture, and way of life.
The Department of Defense is currently embarked on the largest undertaking we’ve seen in this country since 1941.
It’s the same across the rest of government at every level: local, state, and federal. Everyone’s shoulder is to the wheel right now.
4. How do you anticipate it will make a difference?
Murphy: We are saving American lives every day. Due to the hard work of the DOD and other agency partners, an ambulance will have somewhere to go in cities like New York, LA, New Orleans, and Detroit.
The Navy sent the USNS Mercy and USNS Comfort to Los Angeles and New York, respectively. The Army Corps of Engineers is building hospitals from scratch in convention centers in New Orleans, Chicago, New York, LA, and evaluating another 500+ sites across the country, in all 50 states.
DARPA is racing for a vaccine. A Navy research team just developed a ventilator you can make at home with $250 worth of parts available at most hardware stores.
The Air Force has worked with the State Department to extricate tens of thousands of Americans from abroad. These are the stories of our military at work. My job is to get those stories across to the American people.
5. What’s the time frame for this effort?
Murphy: I’ve been called up for four months, maybe longer, depending on how long I’m needed.
6. What do you want people in Birmingham to know based off of what you’re seeing there?
Murphy: Like a virus, rumors spread fear. If you hear something that sounds incredible, check it out here.
Last week a lot of my friends were asking questions such as, “Is the federal government going to impose martial law?” “Did American servicemen start this virus in China?” “I heard the military was totally unprepared for this.”
We are very prepared and have a steady drumbeat of interviews with our top generals and admirals, along with sites and social media plugging the truth.
The marvelous thing about your military is that we are sworn, by law and tradition, to tell you the truth. All Navy public affairs officers wear “Nil Nisi Verum” on their nametags, which means “nothing but the truth.”