Sunday, July 10, 2005

Four Went Out, One Came Back

The body of the fourth member of the lost SEAL reconnaissance team was recovered in Afghanistan, not far from the other two bodies of his team. Such teams try to avoid contact with the enemy, but this one was spotted and engaged by a hundred Taliban. They fought to the death. One escaped badly wounded, helped by local Afghans.

They were part of Operation Red Wing, searching for Taliban and Al Qaeda. That's the official story anyway. It may have been a long range sniper team hunting a high value target, like Bin Laden.

The team was on a patrol deep inside Kunar province in northeastern Afghanistan, close to the Pakistan border on a wooded mountain trail when things went sour. They were deep in bad guy territory, vastly outnumbered by hostile locals, moving stealthily, when they were spotted in the evening of June 28. Lieutenant Michael Murphy, 29, leading the team, called for an immediate extraction as they shot it out with the Taliban in heavy rain. They probably dumped their packs to make a disciplined retreat, each man firing in turn as the others fell back to successive positions in the rear.

Murphy was killed. So was Petty Officer Danny Dietz, 25, and another unnamed SEAL.

A Chinook helicopter was dispatched to the rescue carrying an eight man SEAL team and an eight man Army crew. As it came to land in the Waigal valley, near the town of Asadabad, it was struck by an RPG fired from trees which evidently struck the chopper from above in a lucky shot. All aboard perished.

The Taliban claimed to have beheaded the last SEAL. "We killed him at 11 o’clock today; we killed him using a knife and chopped off his head," announced Abdul Latif Hakimi, a Taliban spokesman with a long history of lying. In fact, the SEAL spent five days escaping and evading the Taliban before he was found, exhausted, by a friendly Afghan who took him in and contacted the US military. He's gonna make it.

It may be years before we hear the whole story on this. It is a sad reminder that there are a lot of good guys, America's best, hanging it all out there deep in enemy country, keeping Bin Laden's sphincter tight at night.


Blogger Abu Sinan said...

Steve, why didnt you mention what CNN did? That the fourth member of the team had been sheltered by Afghans, Muslims, no less. Muslim who have now risked their lives and those of their family and clan to protect an American, an Infidel no less.

Mon Jul 11, 07:56:00 AM 2005  

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