SEAL heroes to get Navy Cross

By Gidget Fuentes
Staff writer
http://www.navytimes.com/story.php?f=1-292925-2090487.php
Sonar Technician 2nd Class (SEAL) Matthew G. Axelson (left) and Gunner’s Mate 2nd Class (SEAL) Danny P. Dietz will each be posthumously awarded the Navy Cross during a Sept. 13 ceremony in Washington, D.C.AP Photo

SAN DIEGO — Two Navy SEALs killed in Afghanistan last year during a mountainous rescue each will receive the Navy Cross medal during a Washington, D.C., ceremony Sept. 13, Navy officials said.

Navy Secretary Donald C. Winter will present the medals to the families of Sonar Technician 2nd Class (SEAL) Matthew G. Axelson and Gunner’s Mate 2nd Class (SEAL) Danny P. Dietz, who died June 28, 2005, near Asadabad.

The medals, the nation’s second-highest for combat bravery, will be awarded during a late-afternoon ceremony at the U.S. Navy Memorial.

The two SEAL commandos were part of a four-man reconnaissance and surveillance team hunting a key Taliban leader when they came under fire from a larger enemy force of Taliban fighters, according to the Naval Special Warfare Command in Coronado, Calif.

An extraction force aboard an MH-47 Chinook helicopter tried to rescue the team but was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade and crashed, killing the eight SEALs and eight Army Special Forces members aboard.

“Although mortally wounded, Axelson and Dietz held their position and fought for the safety of their teammates despite a hail of gunfire,” the command stated in a press release. “Their actions cost them their lives, but gave one of the SEALs an opportunity to escape. He was able to evade the enemy and was recovered by American forces a few days later.”

“The four SEALs fought valiantly and bravely” for more than half an hour before radioing for help, Rear Adm. Joseph Maguire, the top SEAL officer, said during a June 28 ceremony outside his Coronado headquarters honoring the men killed that day. “They were running out of ammunition. They lost their communications and they were under withering enemy fire.”

The sole SEAL survivor of that small team was later rescued in Afghanistan’s rugged Hindu Kush mountains

That day marked the largest one-day death toll in the SEAL community’s history.

 

 

Navy Gunner’s Mate 2nd Class (SEAL) Danny P. Dietz

25, of Littleton, Colo.; assigned to SEAL Delivery Vehicle Team 2, Virginia Beach, Va.; killed June 28 while conducting counter-terrorism operations in Kunar province, Afghanistan. Coalition forces located his remains while conducting a combat search-and-rescue operation July 4 in Kunar province.

• • • • •



Navy SEAL from Colorado dies in Afghanistan

Associated Press

LITTLETON, Colo. — One of two commandos found dead in Afghanistan after disappearing last month grew up in Littleton and probably would not have wanted to die in any other way than trying to protect his country, his wife said.

The body of Petty Officer 2nd Class Danny P. Dietz, a SEAL who joined the Navy three months after graduating from Heritage High School in 1999, was recovered Monday, the military said Wednesday.

The body of Lt. Michael P. Murphy, 29, of Patchogue, N.Y., also was recovered Monday in Kunar province, where the men were conducting counterterrorism operations, the Navy said.

Dietz, 25, was assigned to SEAL Delivery Vehicle Team Two, based at Virginia Beach, Va. Murphy was assigned to SEAL Delivery Vehicle Team One, based at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

They were part of a four-member team that disappeared on June 28. A transport helicopter sent to rescue the four was shot down the day the team disappeared, killing all 16 U.S. servicemen aboard. It was the deadliest attack against the U.S. in Afghanistan and the largest loss of life ever for the elite force.

One member of the team was rescued but the fourth was still missing Thursday.

Dietz’s wife, Maria L. Dietz, said in a statement that he “was not just my husband, but he was my other half, my friend, my role model and my hero.”

Recalling when her husband deployed in April, she wrote, “The same day he left for Afghanistan, as tears rolled down my cheeks, he told me with sparkles in his eyes, ‘All the training I have (undergone) for years is going to pay off with this trip, and I am going to do something special for this country and for my team.”’

Heritage teachers remembered Dietz visiting in full uniform after becoming a SEAL, said Diane Leiker, a school spokeswoman. He played football his senior year and spent time lifting weights and swimming because he realized strength and swimming would be important in realizing his goal of joining the Navy and becoming a SEAL, she said.

Outside Dietz’s parents’ home in Littleton - where a yellow ribbon was wrapped around a tree — neighbors signed a card of condolence.

“God bless you and help you in this difficult time,” one person wrote on the white card. “We are sorry. Words can’t express,” read another.

Died:
June 28, 2005

Navy Sonar Technician (Surface) 2nd Class (SEAL) Matthew G. Axelson



29, of Cupertino, Calif.; assigned to SEAL Delivery Vehicle Team 1, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii; killed while conducting counter-terrorism operations in the Kunar province, Afghanistan. Coalition forces located his remains while conducting a combat search-and-rescue operation July 10 in the Kunar province. His whereabouts had been unknown since June 28.

The Korangal Valley was the scene of the deadliest combat loss for American forces in Afghanistan. On June 28, 2005, militants ambushed a four-man team of Navy SEALs, three of whom were killed. The fourth was rescued days later. A U.S. helicopter sent to find the SEALs crashed in the valley after being hit by a rocket-propelled grenade, killing 16 American troops

 

 

                      SEAL heroes to get Navy Cross

By Gidget Fuentes
Staff writer

 

Sonar Technician 2nd Class (SEAL) Matthew G. Axelson (left) and Gunner’s Mate 2nd Class (SEAL) Danny P. Dietz will each be posthumously awarded the Navy Cross during a Sept. 13 ceremony in Washington, D.C.AP Photo

SAN DIEGO — Two Navy SEALs killed in Afghanistan last year during a mountainous rescue each will receive the Navy Cross medal during a Washington, D.C., ceremony Sept. 13, Navy officials said.

Navy Secretary Donald C. Winter will present the medals to the families of Sonar Technician 2nd Class (SEAL) Matthew G. Axelson and Gunner’s Mate 2nd Class (SEAL) Danny P. Dietz, who died June 28, 2005, near Asadabad.

The medals, the nation’s second-highest for combat bravery, will be awarded during a late-afternoon ceremony at the U.S. Navy Memorial.

The two SEAL commandos were part of a four-man reconnaissance and surveillance team hunting a key Taliban leader when they came under fire from a larger enemy force of Taliban fighters, according to the Naval Special Warfare Command in Coronado, Calif.

An extraction force aboard an MH-47 Chinook helicopter tried to rescue the team but was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade and crashed, killing the eight SEALs and eight Army Special Forces members aboard.

“Although mortally wounded, Axelson and Dietz held their position and fought for the safety of their teammates despite a hail of gunfire,” the command stated in a press release. “Their actions cost them their lives, but gave one of the SEALs an opportunity to escape. He was able to evade the enemy and was recovered by American forces a few days later.”

“The four SEALs fought valiantly and bravely” for more than half an hour before radioing for help, Rear Adm. Joseph Maguire, the top SEAL officer, said during a June 28 ceremony outside his Coronado headquarters honoring the men killed that day. “They were running out of ammunition. They lost their communications and they were under withering enemy fire.”

The sole SEAL survivor of that small team was later rescued in Afghanistan’s rugged Hindu Kush mountains

That day marked the largest one-day death toll in the SEAL community’s history.

 

articles taken from the Internet  10 Sept 2006

                          YC family honors Navy casualty

By Kymm Mann/Appeal-Democrat

Yuba City residents Ardie and Arlene Oji and their daughter, Cindy Oji-Axelson, will accept a major honor Wednesday for Oji-Axelson's late husband, Matthew, who was killed in combat June 28, 2005, while fighting a Taliban group in Afghanistan.

The Navy Cross, second in precedence only to the Medal of Honor, will be awarded posthumously to both Axelson, a sonar technician 2nd Class (SEAL), and Danny P. Dietz, Gunner's Mate 2nd class (SEAL), in Washington, D.C.

“Cindy will accept it on his behalf, and Matthew's family will be there also,” Ardie Oji said Monday.

Oji said his daughter, who was married to Axelson for about a year and a half, has her good days and bad days but is planning to accept the Navy Cross with pride.

Axelson's family - parents Donna and Cordell “Corky” Axelson from Cupertino and brother Jeff Axelson of San Diego - also will be there for the ceremony at the U.S. Navy Memorial. The Navy is taking care of arrangements for Cindy, Oji said, but the rest of the family members, including Cindy's sister Wendy and her husband Dave Kaplan, are paying their own way to honor the men.

“Dave and Matt were friends before Cindy even met him; they all went to college together,” Oji explained. “Dave has known Matt the longest in our family.”

Oji said Cindy and Axelson met at California State University, Chico, and had planned to start a family when he was scheduled to return in December 2005.

The award, which is presented to naval forces in honor of extreme gallantry and life-risking action in the face of combat with an armed enemy force, will be presented by Secretary of the Navy Donald C. Winter.

Oji had a few details of the events leading to Axelson's and Dietz's deaths, and the Naval Special Warfare Command issued a press release with specifics:

Axelson and Dietz were two of a four-man team who were in mountainous terrain near Asadabad, Afghanistan, in search of a key Taliban leader. Anti-coalition sympathizers spotted them and reported them to Taliban fighters, which led to a fierce gun battle.

The four SEALs apparently met a much larger enemy force with “superior tactical position,” the report stated.

Reinforcements in the form of an MH-47 Chinook helicopter - which Oji related to the size of a Greyhound bus - arrived with eight SEALs and eight Army NightStalkers to pull the four men out of the battle.

A rocket-propelled grenade struck the helicopter as it neared the battle zone and it crashed, killing all 16 on board. Oji said the Taliban got a “lucky hit” because the Chinook is such a large, strong machine.

“There were (18) SEALs total killed, which was the largest loss of life the SEALs have seen ever in their history,” Oji said.

The Naval Commander report stated that despite the helicopter crash, the four SEALs continued to fight and that Axelson and Dietz, specifically, held their positions and fought, despite being mortally wounded.

“Their actions cost them their lives,” the report read, “but gave one of the other SEALs an opportunity to escape. He was able to evade the enemy and was recovered by American forces a few days later.”

Oji described Axelson as a very quiet, shy person, “completely opposite of the movie images of (combat). He was one of those people who didn't like to draw attention to himself.”

Axelson was “the best of the best,” Oji said, one of a small percentage who makes it into the Navy SEALs, and one of an even smaller percentage who progresses to be a sniper.

“It's one of the most grueling things anybody will ever go through,” Oji said. “But Matt was the last person you'd expect to be a SEAL, and a lot of his teammates were the same way. You couldn't tell these guys were part of an elite special forces group.”

Oji said the family plans to stay about a week after the ceremony to tour the U.S. capital, where they have never been. They also plan to visit relatives in New York, but the whole reason for the trip is to honor their son-in-law for his ultimate sacrifice.

“He was just a very special, exceptional young man, as all of them were,” he said.

Appeal-Democrat reporter Kymm Mann can be reached at 749-4707 or kmann@appeal-democrat.com.


Battle in the Mountains, But Using More than Force

U.S. Forces See Local Solution for Ridding Troubled Area of Afghan Insurgents

 

By ELY BROWN

Sept. 11, 2006 --  Two 155m Howitzer artillery guns stand guard at Camp Blessing, their muzzles aimed at the high mountain peaks that surround the small forward operating base deep in the Pech River Valley.

"The name of gun one is 'Osama Bin Lob In'" says Capt. Joe Hansen, commander of Blessing. "You always name your guns just like you name your ships. It brings good luck and makes them more accurate."

The guns need to be accurate. Part of Operation Big North Wind, they fire day and night, supporting U.S. troops who are fighting in the mountains and valleys along the Pech River. Located in Kunar Province in eastern Afghanistan, the area is just 20 miles from the Pakistan border, offering easy access for enemy fighters coming from outside the country.

"These mountains, based on our equipment and the lodes we carry, sometimes these mountains give us some problems," says Hansen. "Some of the fighters that we are facing are very astute in going through these mountains and we've got a challenge going after them. And they know they've got some home terrain here."

A Resistance Supported by the Locals

For years the area has operated as a safe haven and training ground for al Qaeda and Taliban fighters. Moving in small bands of up to 15 or 20 people, the insurgents rely on the support and shelter from the local population.

Today the guns are aimed at the near-by Korangal Valley, an area where the people continue to reject the authority of the Afghan government and support the insurgency. In June of 2005, 16 American service men where killed in the Korengal when their helicopter was shot down. The helicopter was operating in the area in support of the attempt to rescue four Navy SEALs who had been ambushed. Only one of the SEALs survived.

"We fight the Korengal fighters pretty much on a daily basis," says Hansen.

Not Just Military Solutions

The area is governed by District Governor Mohammed Rachman. Just 29 years old, he is called "Little Karzai" by his supporters as he tries to pull together the various factions and tribes that live in the area under his responsibility. For Rachman, ending the fighting in his area does not depend on a military solution alone. Negotiation and politics can play a role as well.

"I selected the elders from each village. Those people who are educated, who have tribal powers. So we use these elders against the bad guys," says Rachman. "We signed an agreement with the people saying that they will not allow bad guys to use their villages or territory."

But some areas, such as the Korangal, remain outside his influence. To bring the area under government control, he has implemented a new tactic — sanctions. Barring the movement of items such as tea, sugar, or cooking oil into the area, Rachman is hoping to show the people that supporting al Qaeda and other anti-Afghan government insurgents may not be worth the cost.

"The Korengal people are subsistence farmers. They grow their own food, but they are going to need sugar, oil, cooking oil," says Hansen. "They are going to need all those things that make their lives just a little bit better. We are providing them with the hard decision. Either you work with the government of Afghanistan or you have the effects of not working with them. It's in their court."

Recently Rachman met again with the elders of the Korengal Valley trying to convince them that supporting the fighters operating in their area was not to their benefit. Until he does so, "Osama Bin Lob In" and the Howitzers of Camp Blessing will continue to fire as U.S. and Afghan forces fight the insurgents in the mountains of the Pech River Valley. According to Hansen, "They're going to be here for a while, I think."

http://www.abcnews.go.com/Nightline/story?id=2422004&page=1


Littleton's Dietz posthumously awarded Navy Cross Danny Dietz, a Navy SEAL from Littleton who was killed in combat June 28, was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross on Sept. 13. Gunner's Mate Second Class Danny P. Dietz, 25, from Littleton, was killed by enemy forces during a reconnaissance mission June 28, 2005. Secretary of the Navy Donald Winter posthumously awarded the Navy Cross to Petty Officer Dietz during a ceremony at the U.S. Navy Memorial, Washington, D.C., on Sept. 13.

Dietz was part of a four-man team tasked with finding a key Taliban leader in the mountainous terrain near Asadabad, Afghanistan, when they came under fire from a much larger enemy force with superior tactical position. Mortally wounded, Dietz held his position, drawing fire so one of his teammates could escape.

The Navy Cross is second in precedence only to the Medal of Honor, and is presented to Naval Forces in honor of extreme gallantry and life-risking action in the face of combat with an armed enemy force.

http://denver.yourhub.com/Littleton/Stories/General News/Story~124865.aspx


SEAL to receive posthumous honor
Danny P. Dietz will receive the nation's second-highest military honor. The rescue helicopter had crashed. The Navy SEALS were wounded by Taliban gunmen, vastly overpowered and outmanned in the remote region of Afghanistan.

Danny P. Dietz kept fighting.

More than a year after the 25-year-old Navy SEAL from Littleton was killed, he has been awarded the nation's second-highest military honor, the Navy Cross.

The award - one of only 20 given for valor since fighting began in Afghanistan and Iraq, and second only to the Medal of Honor - will be presented to Dietz's widow and parents during a ceremony at the U.S. Navy Memorial in Washington, D.C. on Sept. 13. The medal will also be presented posthumously to the family of Dietz's teammate, Matthew Axelson, of Cupertino, Calif.

The pair were part of an elite team of four SEALs on a reconnaissance mission "tasked with finding a key Taliban leader in mountainous terrain near Asadabad, Afghanistan," according to a Navy news release.

On June 28, 2005, "They were spotted by anti-coalition sympathizers, who immediately reported their position to Taliban fighters. A fierce gunbattle ensued between the four SEALs and a much larger enemy force with superior tactical position," the Navy release said.

The SEALs radioed for help, and a responding Chinook helicopter was shot down by a rocket-propelled grenade, killing eight more SEALs and eight Army NightStalkers. It was the worst single combat loss for the SEALs since the Vietnam War.

According to the Navy, "Despite this terrible loss, the SEALS on the ground continued to fight. Although mortally wounded, Axelson and Dietz held their position and fought for the safety of their teammates despite a hail of gunfire. Their actions cost them their lives, but gave one of the other SEALs an opportunity to escape."

That SEAL, who has not been publicly identified, was sheltered by a friendly Afghan, then turned over to the U.S. military.

The Dietz family was informed of their son's death on July 4. They will receive his medal two days after the five-year anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks that sparked the war in Afghanistan.

"He was tremendously brave, and he stuck around for his buddies," said Danny's father, Dan Dietz, of Littleton. "He was fighting all the time through this. I'm very proud that I'm his father. And I miss him tremendously."

At the ceremony in Washington - where his parents will stand alongside his widow, Maria - Dan Dietz said "we're just going to celebrate Danny."

And when he holds the medal, he said, "It will remind me of his dedication, his strength, and his loyalty. And his just . . . just his sheer guts."

sheelerj@RockyMountainNews.com or 303-954-2561.

http://www.rockymountainnews.com/drmn/local/article/0,1299,DRMN_15_4963718,00.html