Navy platoon commander is 2023 Murphy Award recipient

A U.S. Navy platoon commander who is a Penn State World Campus student has received this year’s Lieutenant Michael P. Murphy Award, which recognizes outstanding contributions to the geospatial intelligence community.

This year’s honoree, LieutenaLt. Siotame Latu headshotnt Siotame H. Latu, is stationed in San Diego, California. He is also pursuing a graduate degree online through Penn State World Campus, the Master of Professional Studies in Homeland Security – Intelligence and Geospatial Analysis option.

Latu is originally from Tonga and was raised in Eugene, Oregon. He attended the U.S. Air Force Academy, where he majored in foreign area studies, focusing on middle eastern political science. Following graduation, Latu received a cross-commission as an Ensign in the United States Navy. Throughout his career, Latu has deployed to the U.S. Central Command and U.S. Indo-Pacific Command areas of responsibility, assuming leadership positions such as Squad Commander, Platoon Commander, and Operations Officer.

Latu’s service has been recognized with several awards, including:

  • Meritorious Service Medal
  • Joint Service Commendation Medal
  • Joint Service Achievement Medal
  • Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal
  • Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal
  • Navy Expeditionary Medal
  • National Defense Service Medal
  • Inherent Resolve Campaign Medal
  • Global War on Terrorism Service Expeditionary Medal
  • Global War on Terrorism Service Medal

Officials presented the Murphy Award at a Penn State reception during the Esri User Conference in San Diego, California, in July.

About the Lieutenant Michael P. Murphy Award

Penn State established the Lieutenant Michael P. Murphy Award in honor of Murphy, a Penn State alumnus who was killed in Afghanistan and posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his valiant service as a SEAL.

The annual award recognizes a student in one of Penn State’s master’s degree programs in geospatial education who has served in the U.S. military or within the geospatial intelligence community and demonstrated exceptional contributions to the discipline. At Penn State, those programs are offered online through World Campus by the Department of Geography in the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences.

The award is made possible by the generosity of the U.S. Geospatial Intelligence Foundation, Maxar, and faculty, staff, and friends of Penn State.

Todd Bacastow, an emeritus teaching professor of geospatial intelligence at Penn State, praised the 2023 recipient’s work ethic and dedication.

“This year, the Michael Murphy Award is being awarded to a remarkable individual with an extraordinary blend of talent, drive, adaptability, and experience. While pursuing his Master of Professional Studies in Homeland Security with a concentration on Intelligence and Geospatial Analysis at Penn State, Lieutenant Latu successfully applied his newly acquired knowledge in practice,” he said. “Lieutenant Latu creatively implemented GEOINT throughout multiple deployments in the CENTCOM and PACOM AORs, while carrying out roles of Squad Commander, Platoon Commander, and Operations Officer. His innovative efforts have not only transformed his professional sphere but have also significantly impacted the GEOINT community at large.”

Online geospatial intelligence education at Penn State

Geospatial intelligence, which is part of Penn State’s Online Geospatial Education program, is a part of the comprehensive portfolio of more than 175 degrees and certificates that are offered online.

Learn more about the graduate portfolio of geospatial programs offered online through Penn State World Campus.

Media Contact:
Mike Dawson