SAN DIEGO - Naval Special Warfare Command marked the fifth anniversary of Operation Red Wings with a memorial ceremony June 28, honoring the men who died during combat and the lone survivor of that fateful mission.
The memorial ceremony took place at the command in front of a tree and plaque that was dedicated to the 11 fallen Sailors and eight Army Soldiers on the one-year anniversary of the operation. Lt. Cmdr. Wesley Modder, Navy chaplain, began the ceremony with an invocation followed by remarks from NSW Chief of Staff, Capt. Steve Nelson.
"We come together today to remember these men, who unselfishly dedicated their lives and service to others," said Nelson. "These men went into battle not for glory or recognition. They believed in the mission, and they willingly put themselves into harm's way to protect and defend freedom."
Following his speech, Patricia Curley was invited to present a bouquet of flowers on behalf of the families of the fallen. Curley is the mother-in-law of Hospital Corpsman 1st Class (SEAL) Jeffery Taylor, who was killed in the operation.
"It felt very good to know that people are remembering [the men], not just the families," Curley said.
The operation claimed the lives of 11 Navy SEALs, and eight Army Night Stalkers, Soldiers assigned to the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, who were conducting combat operations deep behind enemy lines east of Asadabad in the Hindu Kush of Afghanistan.
The death of 11 SEALs constituted the single largest loss of life for Naval Special Warfare since World War II.
A four-man Navy SEAL team was conducting a reconnaissance mission in the mountains when their mission was compromised and a fierce firefight erupted. As the fight continued, each SEAL received numerous wounds. Lt. Michael P. Murphy exposed himself to enemy fire to call for reinforcements to save his teammates. A group of eight SEALs and eight Army Night Stalkers rushing to join the battle were killed when their helicopter was shot down before they could land.
The only SEAL to survive the battle, Hospital Corpsman 1st Class (SEAL) Marcus Luttrell, fought and evaded the enemy for several days before being rescued. For their sacrifices, the men were awarded the nation's highest honors - including the Medal of Honor received by Lt. Mike Murphy, three Navy Crosses for his teammates on the ground and 16 silver stars for Luttrell and the men who were killed coming to their aid.
As the ceremony ended each name of the fallen was read followed by a single bell strike.
Those who died during Operation Red Wings are:
Lt. Cmdr. Erik S. Kristensen (SEAL)
Maj. Stephen C. Reich
Lt. Michael M. McGreevy Jr. (SEAL)
Lt. Michael P. Murphy (SEAL)
Chief Warrant Officer Corey J. Goodnature
Chief Warrant Officer Chris J. Scherkenbach
Master Sgt. James W. Ponder III
Senior Chief Information Systems Technician (SEAL) Daniel R. Healy
Chief Fire Controlman (SEAL) Jacques J. Fontan
Sgt. 1st Class Marcus V. Muralles
Sgt. 1st Class Michael L. Russell
Electronics Technician 1st Class (SEAL) Jeffery A. Lucas
Hospital Corpsman 1st Class (SEAL) Jeffery S. Taylor
Staff Sgt. Shamus O. Goare
Sonar Technician (Surface) 2nd Class (SEAL) Matthew G. Axelson
Gunner's Mate 2nd Class (SEAL) Danny P. Dietz
Sgt. Kip A. Jacoby
Machinist's Mate 2nd Class (SEAL) Eric S. Patton
Quartermaster 2nd Class (SEAL) James Suh
For more information about Naval Special Warfare, visit www.seal.navy.mil.
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