Operation Red Wings Medal of Honor Park
The Operation Red Wings Medal of Honor Park (formerly Fort Ruger Park) was dedicated on November 11, 2008. A monument honoring the 11 Navy SEALs of Seal Team 10 and 8 Army soldiers of the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment that fell in the Kunar Province of Afghanistan on June 28, 2005 is located on the southwest corner of the park. Operation Red Wings had the largest loss of life since the beginning of Operation Enduring Freedom and for U.S. Naval Special Warfare since World War II. The story of Operation Red Wings is told by its only survivor Marcus Luttrell in his book co-authored by Patrick Robinson: Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of SEAL Team 10.
Backstory and Context
Operation Red Wings occurred in late June 2005 during Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. It was one of the deadliest days for U.S. Forces during Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan and at the time the single largest loss of life for U.S. Naval Special Warfare since World War II.1 11 Navy SEALs and 8 Army Special Operations soldiers lost their lives during the battle and ensuing rescue attempt. Hospital Corpsman First Class Marcus Luttrell was the sole survivor of the four-man SEAL reconnaissance and surveillance team.
The SEAL reconnaissance and surveillance team led by Lieutenant Michael P. Murphy2 was tasked with locating Ahmad Shah3 in the mountains west of Asadabad, Afghanistan. The team was inserted by an MH-47 helicopter near the mountain Sawtalo Sar.4 Shortly after their insertion the team identified Shah but were discovered by a small group of locals. After a short detention, Lt Murphy determined the civilians were non-combatants and released them in accordance with the rules of engagement. The team then relocated after assuming their location was compromised to the enemy.
After a short period of time the team found themselves surrounded on three sided by Shah and his men. The team attempted evade under immense gunfire to toward the Shuryek Valley. As they evaded, the SEALs were unable to establish communications for extraction due to the terrain. All four men were wounded during their evasion and began bounding down the mountainside. Soon the men were pinned down by intense enemy fire. Lt. Murphy selflessly moved into the open in an attempt to establish communications to save his men. Finally he made contact with the Quick Reaction Force (QRF) at Bagram Air Base but was shot in the back during his effort. He then returned to his men and continued to fight.5
The QRF of eight more SEALs boarded an MH-47 Chinook helicopter and were escorted by AH-64 Apache helicopter to Lt. Murphy's position. The Chinook arrived on the seen ahead of their attack escort. As they moved into position to insert the SEALs the Chinook was struck by a rocket propelled grenade killing all sixteen aboard. Lt Murphy and his men continued to fight. By the end of the battle Lt Michael Murphy, SO2 Matthew Axelson6,SO2 Danny Dietz7 had killed. It is estimated that thirty-six Taliban fighters were also killed.
Marcus Luttrell8, the remaining SEAL though badly wounded managed to evade the enemy. He was eventually taken in by local villagers and hid from Taliban fighters. One villager made contact with U.S. forces which recued him three days later on July 2nd, 2005.
The soldiers honored at The Operation Red Wings Medal of Honor Park:
SEAL Delivery Vehicle Team 1, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
- Lt. (SEAL) Michael P. Murphy, 29, of Patchogue, N.Y.
- Sonar Technician (Surface) 2nd Class (SEAL) Matthew G. Axelson, 29, of Cupertino, Calif.
- Machinist Mate 2nd Class (SEAL) Eric S. Patton, 22, of Boulder City, Nev.
- Senior Chief Information Systems Technician (SEAL) Daniel R. Healy, 36, of Exeter, N.H.
- Quartermaster 2nd Class (SEAL) James Suh, 28, of Deerfield Beach, Fla.
SEAL Delivery Vehicle Team 2, Virginia Beach, Va.
- Gunner’s Mate 2nd Class (SEAL) Danny P. Dietz, 25, of Littleton, Colo.
SEAL Team 10, Virginia Beach, Va.
- Chief Fire Controlman (SEAL) Jacques J. Fontan, 36, of New Orleans, La.
- Lt. Cmdr. (SEAL) Erik S. Kristensen, 33, of San Diego, Calif.
- Electronics Technician 1st Class (SEAL) Jeffery A. Lucas, 33, of Corbett, Ore.
- Lt. (SEAL) Michael M. McGreevy Jr., 30, of Portville, N.Y.
- Hospital Corpsman 1st Class (SEAL) Jeffrey S. Taylor, 30, of Midway, W.Va.
Army Night Stalkers
3rd Battalion, 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne), Hunter Army Air Field, Ga.
- Staff Sgt. Shamus O. Goare, 29, of Danville, Ohio.
- Chief Warrant Officer Corey J. Goodnature, 35, of Clarks Grove, Minn.
- Sgt. Kip A. Jacoby, 21, of Pompano Beach, Fla.
- Sgt. 1st Class Marcus V. Muralles, 33, of Shelbyville, Ind.
- Maj. Stephen C. Reich, 34, of Washington Depot, Conn.
- Sgt. 1st Class Michael L. Russell, 31, of Stafford, Va.
- Chief Warrant Officer Chris J. Scherkenbach, 40, of Jacksonville, Fla.
HQ Company, 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne), Fort Campbell, Ky.
- Master Sgt. James W. Ponder III, 36, of Franklin, Tenn.
1 Mihalek, Donald J. Operation Red Wings | Navy SEALs & Army Special Forces. Tactical-Life, Mar 17, 2014. Accessed, SEP 18, 2017. http://www.tactical-life.com/military-and-police/operation-red-wings-navy-seals-army-special-forces/....2 Summary of Action. Accessed, Sep 18, 2017. https://web.archive.org/web/20090115084249/http://www.navy.mil:80/moh/mpmurphy/bio.html. 3Ahmad Shah. FANDOM. Accessed, Sep 18, 2017. http://totalwar-r.wikia.com/wiki/Ahmad_Shah. 4Sawtalo Sar. GetaMap.net. Accessed, Sep 18, 2017. http://www.getamap.net/maps/afghanistan/konar/_sawtalosar/. 5 Lt Michael P Murphy. Accessed, Sep 18, 2017. https://web.archive.org/web/20090115084309/http://www.navy.mil:80/moh/mpmurphy/soa.html. 6Matthew Gene Axleson. MattAxleson.com. Accessed, Sep 18, 2017. http://www.mattaxelson.com/index2.html. 7Danny P Dietz. NAVYSEALS.COM. Accessed, Sep 18,2017. https://navyseals.com/nsw/danny-p-dietz/. 8Marcus Luttrell. MarcusLuttrell.com. Accessed, Sep 18, 2017. http://marcusluttrell.com/bio/.