Saturday morning we woke up to the grim news that we lost 22 of our “best of the best” Navy SEALS, members of the tough Seal Team Six in Afghanistan. While others debate whether the Taliban shot down their Chinook during a night raid or whether it was mechanical failure that brought down their helicopter, we as Americans must mourn the loss of these young men who dedicated their lives to protect all of us so we can continue to enjoy being Americans, live in a free country and continue to feel free every morning we wake up to see the first light of day.
When one remembers that there are only 300 members of the SEAL Team 6, the loss of these 22 young men exposes the massiveness of the tragedy. Since 9/11 we have lost a total of 32 members of the SEAL team, therefore losing 22 members in one day is very significant. We will probably never know the exact details of the incident; however it is now public knowledge that the SEALS were coming to the aid of our forces who were engaged in a firefight with the enemy (Taliban) on the ground when their twin-rotor CH-47 was apparently brought down by a rocket-propelled grenade. Those involved in the firefight on the ground immediately broke off and quickly established a safety perimeter around the downed chopper making sure that the enemy would not take further advantage of those killed in the crash. We may all recall the gruesome scenes from Somalia when a Blackhawk went down and the survivors of the crash as well as the dead were dragged through the dirty streets of Mogadishu.
It is not easy to become a US Navy SEAL. One must go through rigorous training, pass many tests to become a SEAL. Once a SEAL, he immediately becomes a member of a very tight community. Due to the secrecy of their missions, their families never know where they are or what they are doing. They leave their homes, wives, children, families and loved ones on very short notice and travel around the globe to their duty stations where they stay for extended periods of time fighting our enemies who want nothing less than to destroy our country, take away our freedoms and destroy everything we believe in. These brave SEALs may never return from these missions.
To be a memberof the US Navy’s SEAL team, one has to want above and beyond anything else in life, to be a member of the SEAL team. It takes a very special person to be able go through the rigors of SEAL training and later through many combat operations which require not only physical toughness and agility but also total mental stability. We may never know the identities of those who lost their lives on a Saturday morning in Wardak Province in Afghanistan but we should all remember their ultimate sacrifice and pray for the loved ones they left behind.
Marine Gen. James N. Mattis, commander of U.S. Central Command, said: “We grieve for our lost comrades and especially for their families, yet we also remember that the lads were doing what they wanted to be doing and they knew what they were about. This loss will only make the rest of us more determined, something that may be difficult for those who aren’t in the military to understand.” According to news accounts, a Special Operations officer who asked not to be identified said “The SEALs and their special operations counterparts conduct these missions night after night knowing that every mission could be their last and despite this tragic loss for the units and our nation, tonight their brothers will board helicopters and go out and do the work our country has asked of them. And they will continue to do so without hesitation or mental reservation as they go after the enemies that would do us harm.”
We live as Americans in a free country where each individual’s ideas matter; where each life is precious; where all kinds of issues can be debated freely; where freedom of speech is protected under a Constitution based on individual rights and freedoms that dates back to 1787.
To the 22 members of the SEAL Team 6 who lost their lives in a foreign land, away from their loved ones I say “Thank you for your service to our country and thank you for making the ultimate sacrifice for us. May God Bless you all and may you all rest in peace. We will never be able to repay you for what you have done for us, but we will always remember and respect you as our heroes.”
God Bless America…
Currently a member of Marco Island’s Code Enforcement Board, Tarik Ayasun has given many years of community service to various organizations.