Extortion 17

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.

In that incident sixteen Navy SEALs and Army special operations troops were killed and three more SEALs were killed in fighting on the ground.
  • 15 U.S. Navy SEALs from the Naval Special Warfare Development Group
  • 7 Afghan National Army Commandos, part of Afghan National Army
  • 5 U.S. Naval Special Warfare support personnel.
  • 3 U.S. Army Reserve personnel from the 7th Battalion, 158th Aviation Regiment
  • 2 U.S. Navy SEALs from a west coast based SEAL team.
  • 2 U.S. Army personnel from the 2nd Battalion, 135th Aviation Regiment, part of Colorado Army National Guard
  • 2 U.S. Air Force Pararescuemen from the 24th Special Tactics Squadron
  • 1 U.S. Air Force Combat Controller from the 24th Special Tactics Squadron
  • 1 Afghan civilian interpreter
  • 1 U.S. Military Working Dog
The 30 American deaths represent the greatest loss of U.S. military lives in a single incident in the decade-long war in Afghanistan that began in 2001.
  • SGT Alexander J. Bennett
  • SPC Spencer Duncan
  • CWO Bryan J. Nichols
  • CWO David R. Carter
  • SSG Patrick D. Hamburger
  • TSgt John W. Brown
  • SSgt Andrew W. Harvell
  • TSgt Daniel L. Zerbe
  • PO1 (SEAL) Darrick C. Benson
  • CPO (SEAL) Brian R. Bill
  • PO1 (SEAL) Christopher G. Campbell
  • PO1 Jared W. Day
  • PO1 John Douangdara & Navy SEAL Dog “Bart”
  • CPO (SEAL) John W. Faas
  • CPO (SEAL) Kevin A. Houston
  • Lt. Cmdr. (SEAL) Jonas B. Kelsall
  • MCPO (SEAL) Louis J. Langlais
  • CPO (SEAL) Matthew D. Mason
  • CPO (SEAL) Stephen M. Mills
  • CPO Nicholas H. Null
  • PO1 (SEAL) Jesse D. Pittman
  • SCPO (SEAL) Thomas A. Ratzlaff
  • CPO (SEAL) Robert J. Reeves
  • CPO (SEAL) Heath M. Robinson
  • PO2 (SEAL) Nicholas P. Spehar
  • PO1 Michael J. Strange
  • PO1 (SEAL) Jon T. Tumilson
  • PO1 (SEAL) Aaron C. Vaughn
  • SCPO Kraig M. Vickers
  • PO1 (SEAL) Jason R. Workman
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