WASHINGTON, August 8, 2011—The Pentagon reports that yesterday, Sunday, August 7, 2011, Taliban insurgents shot down a Chinook Helicopter, killing American thirty soldiers.
Of those killed, twenty-two were members of the most elite of military units, Navy Seal Team Six, and seven Afghan commando soldiers, reminding us that even our greatest warriors are not invincible.
This team’s mission target was a Taliban leader believed to “be responsible for insurgent operations in the Tangi Valley of the Wardak province.”
Most American’s know that soldiers committ to defendingt America, even at the risk of losing thier own lives. Our Armed Forces stand up and defend our country every day, in many arenas around the world.
But who are the Navy SEALs?
The United States Navy’s Sea, Air and Land teams, or SEALS are a special operation force trained to operate at sea, in the air or on land. The group is part of the Naval Special Warfare Command and the U.S. Special Operations Command (NSWC and USSOCOM)
They operate under the motto “The Only Easy Day Was Yesterday”
The SEALS evolved in the wake of a failed military operation to rescue fifty-two American hostages held during the Iran hostage crisis. Richard Marcinko, one of the two US Navy representatives for a Joint Chiefs of Staff task force known as the TAT, or Terrorist Action Team, became the first commanding officer of the new unit, which Marcinko called the SEAL Team Six, now officially known as Navy Special Warfare Development Group, or DEVGRU; the same team which, last May, stormed Osama bin Laden’s hideout.
SEAL training pushes recruits to the limit both physically and emotionally. It is intense and demanding, beyond even the difficult training of other special forces.
SEAL training periods last up to twenty-four months and are broken into a series of Phases. Eighty percent of all recruits drop out well before they reach the end of Phase One training. During “Hell Week,” the fourth week of training, recruits endure five and half days, a continual period of 132 hours, of harsh physical labor without sleep. The trainees are subjected to the harshest of conditions while being in constant motion, hungry despite increased calories, cold and wet, their instructors constantly yelling phrases such as “Go ahead, or quit!”
In the end, those that complete “Hell Week” are prepared mentally and physically to push his body beyond human expectations.
As training continues, soldiers are sent to learn survival skills in the mountains of Southern California, learning drown-proofing and scuba skills in San Diego, and finishing the Cold Weather Survival course in the mountains of Kodiak, Alaska
Yes, it’s hard. But those the make it to the end, who earn the honor of wearing the Navy SEAL Trident Badge, are truly an elite group of warriors.
And they, the SEALS, deserve our thanks, as do all who serve in our Armed Forces. And so do their families who are now grieving.
Navy Seal Marcus Luttrell said: “It’s a dark day for all of us, not just SEALs, but Americans alike. The ripples of this tragedy will travel for decades.”
Petty Officer Lutrell received the Navy Cross for Combat Heroism for his part in a fateful reconnaissance mission in the Hindu-Kush region of Afghanistan on June 28, 2005. Petty Officer Luttrell’s team was discovered and outnumbered by over 200 Taliban Fighters. The rescue mission led to the deaths of sixteen members of the Special Forces, including eight SEALs. Until now, that was the largest single-day loss of life in the SEALs’ history.
SEALs, such as Petty Officer Luttrell’s team, work in conjunction with intelligence operatives and can be called at a moment’s notice.
When these warriors enter the elite community of the SEALs, they know that they are entering into an exclusive fraternity that has silently waged a decade-plus long war defending our country from terrorists.
While wives and children, mothers and fathers, siblings and grandparents and their friends stay back, living their lives waiting for them and praying for them to come back home safe and sound, these courageous men, turned elite warriors, sacrifice their lives to defend this country’s ideals, to protect our country and keep the danger away from us, the American people.
The Navy SEAL’s Creed is: “I voluntarily accept the inherent hazards of my profession, placing the welfare and security of others before my own … I train for war and fight to win!”
And for this we gave our gratitude to those that have died in service, and those that continue to serve in our Armed Forces: The Navy, Army, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard.
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