Skip to comments.Two SEALs Receive Posthumous Navy Cross Awards
Posted on 09/13/2006 9:15:24 PM PDT by SandRat
| WASHINGTON, Sept. 13, 2006 -- Special operations forces personnel, so accustomed to operating in the shadows, stepped sadly into the light tonight as the Navy presented the widows of two SEALs killed in Afghanistan with the nations second-highest military award for valor.
Navy Secretary Donald C. Winter presented the Navy Cross to Cindy Axelson, widow of Petty Officer 2nd Class Matthew G. Axelson, and to Patsy Dietz, widow of Petty Officer 2nd Class Danny P. Dietz.
The ceremony was fittingly held here at the U.S. Navy Memorial. These were our men, said Rear Adm. Joseph Maguire, commander of the Naval Special Warfare Command, at the start of the ceremony.
Axelson and Dietz were part of a four-man team inserted behind enemy lines June 27, 2005, east of Asadabad, Afghanistan, to find and kill or capture a key local militia leader.
Anti-coalition forces spotted them the following day and promptly alerted the militia forces. The SEALs fought valiantly against the numerically superior and positionally advantaged enemy force, according to the citation that accompanied the awards. Three of the four SEALs were wounded and forced into a ravine, where they radioed for help. An MH-47 Chinook helicopter with eight more SEALs and eight Army troops aboard went to the rescue, but was hit with a rocket-propelled grenade and crashed, killing all aboard.
Dietz and Axelson, though wounded, provided cover for their partner to escape. The teammate, whose name is being withheld to protect his identity, evaded the enemy for days before being rescued. He, too, received the Navy Cross at an earlier ceremony.
More than 300 family members, teammates and friends attended todays evening ceremony. A large contingent of sailors from SEAL Team 2 in Norfolk also journeyed to Washington to pay their respects.
SEAL teammates spoke about their friends during the ceremony. These men are heroes, not because of the way they died, but how they lived as well, said Navy Lt. Brad Geary, who served with Dietz. He spoke of Dietzs quiet professionalism and sense of responsibility to the team, the Navy and his country.
Petty Officer 1st Class Dave Albritton spoke about Axelson, his SEAL teammate, much the same way. Albritton, who went through SEAL training with Axelson, said it became obvious early in the training that Axelson was a born leader -- a man all his classmates looked up to.
Winter said the two men embodied the values of the Navys elite SEAL community: courage, daring, ability and esprit de corps.
He said their combat service to the country deserves special recognition and a special place in the heart of every American.
The nature of special operations missions means that the servicemembers who carry them out do not receive the public recognition for their exploits, Winter said. He called todays ceremony a rare opportunity for the American people to learn of the heroism and commitment of the special warriors, and the debt Americans owe them.
In this war, special forces have been used in new ways and unprecedented numbers, Winter said. They are precision weapons that are defeating a ruthless enemy.
Winter said the two SEALs honored today served on the frontlines of freedom in operations around the world. Their insertion into an enemy-held area, surrounded by risk and danger, is typical of the kinds of missions that are routinely assigned to SEALs, he said.
Even after being wounded, both men continued to fight the enemy with undiminished zeal, covering the extraction of the rest of their team while they stayed and fought, Winters said. Putting the safety of their teammates ahead of their own, they displayed extraordinary heroism in combat.
Winters uttered two words -- extraordinary heroism -- he said perfectly capture their last selfless acts on this earth.
Navy Secretary Donald C. Winter
Thanks for posting.
This story makes me very sad. I am proud of their service and sacrifice.
Thanks for the post. These men believed the cause was worth dying for. What doesn't the enemy within understand?
I was a Midshipman in 1965 and spent part of my summer cruise at Coronado. The Seals were a new thing at that time and we weren`t allowed to even look at them. As we ran passed their portion of the base, we had to look away. Later, on a night exercise, they infiltrated our position and killed everyone of us in a matter of seconds. Scary guys.
God Bless the soldiers who fight evil.
May these two heroes RIP. God bless their families.
I have a former Navy SEAL in class. He is the nicest guy. I admire them. They are true heroes.
These men are extraordinary and one of the things overlooked in this article and by the Dinosaur Media is that by their professionalism - they kill the bad guys. Not every living thing within miles. It would be easy to use massed weapons (iron bombs falling from B-52's, or nukes!), instead we use professionals like these men to harm our true enemies.
I am eternally grateful for having glimpsed them in my pass through this life.
Everyone, please note that SEAL is spelled in all capital letters. If plural, it's "SEALs".
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