On 6 August 2011, a U.S. Boeing CH-47 Chinook military helicopter was shot down while transporting a quick reaction force attempting to reinforce an engaged unit of Army Rangers in Wardak province, west of Kabul, Afghanistan. The resulting crash killed all 38 people on board—25 American special operations personnel, five United States Army National Guard and Army Reserve crewmen, seven Afghan commandos, and one Afghan interpreter—as well as a U.S. military working dog. It is considered the worst loss of U.S. Military life in a single incident in the Afghanistan campaign, surpassing Operation Red Wings in 2005 (Note: during Operation Red Wings, on 28 June 2005, a Chinook helicopter carrying a U.S. Navy SEAL team was shot down by a RPG round as it attempted to extract U.S. troops on the ground).
Of the Navy SEALs that were killed 15 were members of the Naval Special Warfare Development Group (DEVGRU), The other two Navy SEALs killed in the helicopter shootdown were from a West Coast-based SEAL unit. The five other Navy personnel were NSW support personnel. In addition to the NSW losses, three AFSOC operators died in the crash, one Combat Controller and two Pararescuemen, all members of the 24th Special Tactics Squadron. Their deaths are the greatest single loss of life ever suffered by the U.S. Special Operations community in the 24-year history of the U.S. Special Operations Command.
A source from the Navy’s special operations community described the reaction as, “Shock and disbelief. There’s no precedent for this. It’s the worst day in our history by a mile.” The previous highest U.S. death toll from a single incident in the war also came from a rocket attack on a Chinook helicopter carrying Navy SEALs during Operation Red Wings on 28 June 2005.