Fallen SEALs Believed In Their Mission
By Jeff Lukens
Several weeks back,
we heard news of many Navy SEALs dying in an Afghanistan helicopter crash. This
tells the riveting story of what happened. In the age of e-mails and blogsites,
the soldiers themselves are best at telling the news from the front lines. The
following is paraphrased from a lengthy and detailed e-mail circulating around
the military community. All I know of this man is that his first name is
George, and he is soon to return home from Afghanistan.
June 28, 2005, a four-man SEAL reconnaissance team was trying to find
Taliban in the dense mountainous and forested area of the Kunar Province
of Afghanistan. They were trying to identify routes that they use to enter
from Pakistan. The SEALs were spotted and engaged by somewhere between 25
to 50 Taliban insurgents.
Taliban used Rocket Propel Grenades (RPGs), mortars and small arms to
attack the SEALs. The SEALs set up a 360-degree defense and called in for
help. Headquarters for U.S. Forces moved a Predator drone over the battle
area and soon located the SEALs.
could see that the SEALs were encircled and that the enemy was too close
to them to use close air support. A weather front was rapidly coming into
the area and the SEAL Commander asked permission to launch his
quick-reaction force to go rescue his men. The Task Force Commander agreed
to fly the mission.
Night Stalkers specialize in high-risk insertion and extraction at night.
It was not nightfall yet and the command hesitated because sending the
helicopter into the area in the light was very risky. The generals looked
at the screen that was giving a live feed of the fire fight, they saw that
the SEALs were surrounded, they did not see a way for them to escape, a
weather front was coming, it was dusk but not dark yet and time for the
trapped men was running out.
requires having the guts to make a decision, based on analysis and
forethought. You must totally recognize the risk and be ready to accept
the results. The general in charge made the right call.
He had to try to rescue the SEALs. We as American soldiers cannot
leave our people on the battlefield; everyone has to know that when they
go down range and things go wrong to keep fighting and help will come.
decision was made, two CH47 helicopters headed toward the SEALs. The CH47
is large but fast for a helicopter, able to fly at 170 knots. They entered
the mountains flying at 50 feet above the ground with 16 men aboard. All
four SEALs were still alive and fighting an unbelievable battle.
the lead helicopter approached the landing zone they started to slow down
and the air speed dropped under 100 Knots, another group of Taliban, not
engaged in the initial firefight but in the area saw the aircraft and
opened fire with small arms and RPG's. An RPG hit the lead helicopter but
the aviator managed to keep it in the air.
were in the mountains and there was no clear place to land. He flew for
about a mile and saw a ledge that he could try to put it down on. The bird
landed on the ledge hard, they almost made it. The hard landing and the
palpitations of the rotors were too much for the small landing zone and
weak ground. The aircraft rolled off of the ledge onto its side and down
the mountain into the valley below. The 16 SEALs and aviators were gone.
other aircraft could not land in the hot landing zone and was called back.
There was not enough time to try to secure the area because the weather
front moved in and nightfall fell. The SEALs kept fighting and used the
cover of darkness to crawl out of the initial enemy lines. The SEALs were
engaged again and had a running gun battle for over two hours. The SEAL
that survived was knocked unconscious by a mortar round and found that he
was alone when he woke up. Two of his team members were dead close by, and
the last team member was missing.
had dropped all none essential gear during their escape all contact with
them was lost. Eventually the surviving SEAL ran into a villager who took
him to his house. That shepherd, at great risk to himself, protected the
SEAL until he could be moved six hours away to the nearest U.S. forces
that the villager was aware of.
did what they supposed to on that day, the SEAL recon team kept fighting,
the SEAL commander went to get his shipmates, the Night Stalkers
volunteered to fly into harms way to rescue their brothers in arms, and
the generals had the guts to make the right decision. That is all you can
ask for out here.
goes on to say, "I really appreciated America before I came to
Afghanistan but this experience has truly opened my eyes to how blessed my
life has been. Folks, I know this is a cliché, but freedom is not free.
Embrace it, respect it and don't ever stop fighting for it. These people
over here are far from free, but we have given them a taste of it. We need
to ensure that we don't give up the fight because to do so would be to
dishonor all the men and women who have died to ensure we remain
can make a direct connection between our soldier's service and sacrifice
and the way we live here at home. We, as a country, have collectively
decided to fight the terrorists. Those who lost their lives believed in
that mission, as do those who are over there now. They were not forced
into the war. They volunteered, and they do it for us. To honor the memory
of the fallen, and to do what's right, we too should believe in that
mission, and not waver from it until it is complete.