31 Americans Killed Including 25 SEALs in Helicopter Crash in Afghanistan

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31 Americans Killed Including 25 SEALs in Helicopter Crash in Afghanistan

Post by ToddS on Sat Aug 06, 2011 11:13 am

31 Americans Killed Including 25 SEALs in Helicopter Crash in Afghanistan

By MARTHA RADDATZ (@martharaddatz) and MIKE BOETTCHER
Aug. 6, 2011

A helicopter crash in Afghanistan killed 31 Americans, including as many as 25 Navy SEALs in one of the worst single-day U.S. losses of life since the war began, a senior military official told ABC News early this morning.

A total of 38 people were on board the Chinook helicopter when it crashed overnight in the eastern Afghan province of Wardak.

Initial reports indicate up to 25 Navy SEALs were on the aircraft at the time.

It was also carrying seven Afghan Special Forces troops, one interpreter, five member helicopter crew and one dog.

Troops were apparently involved in a raid at the time.

"We are aware of an incident involving a helicopter in eastern Afghanistan," U.S. Air Force Capt. Justin Brockhoff, a NATO spokesman, told the Associated Press. "We are in the process of accessing the facts."

Although the Taliban have claimed to have shot the helicopter down, the exact cause of the crash is still under investigation.

On July 25, a Chinook was hit by a rocket propelled grenade fired by the Taliban. It launched in the belly of the aircraft which made a hard landing and only two soldiers were injured in that attack but this time all on board were killed.

Saturday's deaths bring the total number of coalition troops killed in Afghanistan to 334 this year, according to the Associated Press.

The last worst one-day U.S. casuality record in Afghanistan was on June 28, 2005 when 16 U.S. soldiers were killed in Kunar province after a helicopter was shot down by Taliban insurgents.

Afghan President Karzai's office released a statement on the incident.

"A NATO helicopter crashed last night in Wardak province," Karzai said in the statement. "President Karzai expressed his deep condolences because of this incident and expressed his sympathy to Barack Obama."

President Obama offered his thoughts and prayers to those killed in the crash.

"Their deaths are a reminder of the extraordinary sacrifices made by the men and women of our military and their families, including all who have served in Afghanistan," Obama said in a statement. "We will draw inspiration from their lives, and continue the work of securing our country and standing up for the values that they embodied. We also mourn the Afghans who died alongside our troops in pursuit of a more peaceful and hopeful future for their country. At this difficult hour, all Americans are united in support of our men and women in uniform who serve so that we can live in freedom and security."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Re: 31 Americans Killed Including 25 SEALs in Helicopter Crash in Afghanistan

Post by American Beauty on Mon Aug 08, 2011 3:51 pm

[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]A Chinook helicopter landing in southern Afghanistan, June 2011: AP Photo/Anja Niedri …

When a U.S. helicopter crashed in Afghanistan Saturday morning, killing 30 American servicemen, it was the single largest loss of American lives since the Afghan conflict began a decade ago. Two days later, some key details of that tragedy are emerging.

The Chinook chopper was on a mission to aid U.S. Army Rangers, who were taking fire from Afghan insurgents in a mountainous area in the eastern part of the country. Profiles of some of the men killed make it clear that for them, sacrificing to help others came naturally.

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Robert James Reeves and Jonas Kelsall had been friends since their freshman year of high school in Shreveport, Louisiana--classmates have described them as inseparable. Like 20 of the other servicemen killed in the crash, both men served on the same elite Navy unit, SEAL Team 6, that killed Osama bin Laden in May.

Reeves, 32, was a star soccer and lacrosse player, his father, James Reeves, told the New York Times. "It had never been obvious to me that he was going to choose a military career," James Reeves said. "It is very difficult to make it on these SEAL teams. But that was where he knew he needed to be."

The younger Reeves was no stranger to life-threatening situations. He had been deployed to war zones a dozen times since the 9/11 attacks, and had earned four Bronze Stars, each with a "V Device" for valor.

At a Christmas reunion with his family in Shreveport--the last time he saw them--Reeves didn't talk about the nature of his work, in keeping with the Navy SEAL code of discretion.

Also killed in the crash was Aaron Vaughn, 30, a Navy SEAL from Tennessee, whose wife, Kimberly, told CNN that her husband "wouldn't want to leave this Earth any other way than how he did"--that is, by sacrificing for his country.

"He loved his job," Kimberly Vaughn, a former Washington Redskins cheerleader, added. "There was no way--even if you could tell him that this would have happened he would have done it anyway. All those men are like that. They're selfless."

She said the pair had spoken by phone just hours before his final mission. "We got to tell each other we loved each other, so it was a great conversation to have."

Meanwhile, Patrick Hamburger, a 30-year-old sergeant from Nebraska, was planning to propose to his girlfriend when he got home from what was his first mission, his brother Chris told the AP. Patrick, who had been in Afghanistan just two weeks, was helping her to raise a daughter from a previous relationship, as well as the couple's own 2-year-old daughter.

John Brown, an Air Force technical sergeant from Arkansas, was described by his mother as a "gentle giant" who "just loved anything physical, anything athletic." When she wanted to have a heart-to-heart with her son, she said, she would go outside and shoot hoops with him.

And Michael Strange, 25, from Philadelphia, loved scuba diving, snowboarding, and surfing. After he joined the Navy SEALs, he reassured his worried mother that he'd be OK.

"He wasn't supposed to die this young. He was supposed to be safe," Elizabeth Strange said. "And he told me that and I believed him. I shouldn't have believed him, because I know better. He would say 'Mom, don't be ridiculous and worry so much. I'm safe.' "


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