Naval Special Warfare Command Remembers Operation Red Wings
Naval Special Warfare Command (NSW) marked the seventh anniversary of Operation Red Wings with a memorial ceremony June 28, honoring the men who died during combat.
The commemorative service took place at the NSW headquarters building, 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. James Peugh, a Navy chaplain, began the ceremony with an invocation, followed by remarks from NSW commander, Rear Adm. Sean A. Pybus.
"To the friends and families they left behind, Naval Special Warfare remains committed to your health and well being, it is our obligation to our teammates, we cannot let them down and we will always remember and they will always be with us," said Pybus.
Following his speech, Pybus and Force Master Chief Stephen Link escorted family representatives of Senior Chief Information Systems Technician (SEAL) Daniel R. Healy, Hospital Corpsman 1st Class (SEAL) Jeffrey S. Taylor and Gunner's Mate 2nd Class (SEAL) Danny P. Dietz, as they placed a ceremonial wreath and bouquet of flowers at the memorial on behalf of all families of the fallen.
"This is such an important day for me," said Jennifer Healy, Healy's sister. "Having NSW remember the fallen men of Operation Red Wings makes me feel closer to my brother; I know he is looking down on us today, smiling and wanting us to remember him and honor him," said Healy.
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.
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 that might 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 on the ground to survive the battle, Hospital Corpsman 1st Class (SEAL) Marcus Luttrell, fought and evaded the enemy for several days before being rescued.
For their sacrifice, actions and bravery, the men were awarded the nation's highest honors - including the Medal of Honor received by Lt. Michael P. Murphy, Navy Crosses for his teammates on the ground; Sonar Technician (Surface) 2nd Class (SEAL) Matthew G. Axelson, Dietz and Luttrell. Sixteen Bronze Stars were awarded to 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 toll.
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
Article by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Geneva G. Brier, Naval Special Warfare Public Affairs