Navy SEALS are trained to give it their all on every mission. Sometimes, that commitment to the mission goes so deep that they sacrifice their life to save others.
This kind of sacrifice is one of the greatest a man can give. The willingness to lay down ones life so that others may live is deep and incredibly humbling.
Operation Red Wings
One of the deadliest days for American troops took place in 2005 during Operation Enduring Freedom.
It was June 28th and four SEAL team members were behind enemy lines. According to a Navy report released to the public, the team was on a recon mission to scout the location of Ahmad Shah.
Shah was the leader of a guerilla outfit who had partnered with the Taliban, an evil man who sought to grow his power by allying himself with the insurgents.
While the SEALs were on their mission, they were discovered by a goat herder from Shah's tribe. While they were almost certain the man would give away their position to the enemy, they decided the right thing to do was let him go.
Unfortunately, the herder did indeed go straight to Shah and the Taliban to alert them of the SEAL team's presence.
Once the Taliban knew where the men were, they sent over 50 fighters to attack them. It was a "well-organized, three-sided attack,". All four men were quickly overwhelmed and took brutal wounds.
They sought cover in a ravine, trying to avoid the mass of gunfire and RPG's that rained down on their position. Gunner's Mate 2nd Class Danny Dietz tried to get out a distress call, but he took a bullet wound to the hand before he was able to make contact with the Quick Reaction Force (QRF).
Lieutenant Michael Murphy, commander of the SEAL team had taken more bullets than the others and was "suffering grave gunshot wounds". He figured his time was up and chose to complete the mission to call for help.
Murphy exposed himself to enemy fire in order to draw attention away from his team and get a satellite signal to call for help.
This deliberate action to sacrifice himself and save his team posthumously earned Murphy the Medal of Honor. His award citation reads " This deliberate, heroic act deprived him of cover, exposing him to direct enemy fire."
Help On The Way
Despite multiple wounds that would kill a lesser man, Murphy was able to finish his call for help. He calmly provided the operator at Bagram Air Base his unit’s location and size of the enemy force. In the end, he requested immediate support for his team.
During the call he took a bullet to his back and dropped the receiver, but calmly picked it up and continued speaking to the operator while firing back at the approaching enemy.
The action summary for that fateful day reads, “Severely wounded, Lt. Murphy returned to his cover position with his men and continued the battle.”
An MH-47 Chinook helicopter with 16 men on board quickly made it's way to their position, but it was hit with a rocket-propelled grenade killing everyone on board.
Another QRF was dispatched but was unable to make it in time to save Murphy, Dietz, and Sonar Technician 2nd Class Matthew Axelson.
The only SEAL who survived was Marcus Luttrell. He survived the attack only because he was blown down the mountain by a rocket propelled grenade and was rescued by locals sympathetic to the coalition.
Luttrel was rescued a few days later and has since written a book, title Lone Survivor. An incredibly well-made movie of the same name was released some time later.
The U.S. Navy gives Lieutenant Michael Murphy credit for Luttrell's rescue, stating his "undaunted courage, intrepid fighting spirit and inspirational devotion to his men in the face of certain death, Lt. Murphy was able to relay the position of his unit, an act that ultimately led to the rescue of Luttrell and the recovery of the remains of the three who were killed in the battle.”
Murphy was awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously for "selfless leadership, courageous actions, and extraordinary devotion to duty."
We will never forget the incredible, tragic sacrifice that occurred during Operation Red Wings. It's men like Lt. Murphy who make America's enemies tremble, because few nations can boast of warriors who believe in freedom so passionately that they would gladly lay down their lives that others may live.