The Lieutenant Michael Murphy Navy SEAL Museum in West Sayville will be hosting an invitation-only ribbon cutting on Tuesday, June 28, in commemoration with the 17th anniversary of Operation Red Wings.
The invitation-only status was due to security concerns and will “include VIPs, government officials and Navy SEALs, as well as plank owners and lifetime members,” according to the official statement online.
Operation Red Wings was “the worst single-day U.S. Forces death toll since Operation Enduring Freedom began nearly six years ago. It was the single largest loss of life for Naval Special Warfare since World War II,” according to the museum website.
On June 28, 2005, while behind enemy lines east of Asadabad in the Hindu Kush of Afghanistan, a four-man Navy SEAL team was conducting a reconnaissance mission at the altitude of approximately 10,000 feet.
The SEALs, Lt. Michael P. Murphy, Gunner’s Mate 2nd Class Danny Dietz, Sonar Technician 2nd Class Matthew Axelson and Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Marcus Luttrell, were scouting Ahmad Shah—a terrorist in his mid-30s who grew up in the adjacent mountains just to the south.
Shah led a guerrilla group known to locals as the “Mountain Tigers” that had aligned with the Taliban and other militant groups close to the Pakistani border.
A firefight erupted between the four SEALs, who were outnumbered by more than 50 anti-coalition militia.
Despite the intensity of the firefight and suffering grave gunshot wounds himself, Murphy is credited with risking his own life to save the lives of his teammates.
Murphy’s “undaunted courage, intrepid fighting spirit, and inspirational devotion to his men in the face of certain death” was the impetus behind Murphy being 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.
An MH-47 Chinook helicopter, with eight additional SEALs and eight Army Night Stalkers aboard, was sent in as part of an extraction mission to pull out the four embattled SEALs.
As the Chinook raced to the battle, a rocket-propelled grenade struck the helicopter, killing all 16 men aboard.
On the ground and nearly out of ammunition, the four SEALs—Murphy, Luttrell, Dietz and Axelson—continued the fight. By the end of the two-hour gunfight, Murphy, Axelson, and Dietz had been killed. An estimated 35 Taliban were also dead.
“The Naval Special Warfare (NSW) community will forever remember June 28, 2005 and the heroic efforts and
sacrifices of our special operators. We hold with reverence the ultimate sacrifice that they made while engaged in that fierce firefight on the front lines of the global war on terrorism NSW (GWOT).”
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