Magazine article Sea Classics

Two Seals Receive Posthumous Navy Cross Awards

Magazine article Sea Classics

Two Seals Receive Posthumous Navy Cross Awards

Article excerpt

Special operations forces personnel, so accustomed to operating in the shadows, stepped sadly into the light 13 September as the Navy presented the widows of two SEALs (Sea, Air, Land) killed in Afghanistan with the nation's second-highest military award for valor.

Navy Secretary Donald C. Winter presented the Navy Cross to the widow of Petty Officer 2C Matthew G. Axelson, and to the widow of Petty Officer 2C Danny P. Dietz.

The ceremony was fittingly held here at the US Navy Memorial. "These were our men," said R/Adm. Joseph Maguire, commander of the Naval Special Warfare Command, at the start of the ceremony.

Axelson and Dietz were part of a four-man team inserted behind enemy lines 27 June 2005, east of Asadabad, Afghanistan, to find and kill or capture a key local militia leader.

Anti-coalition forces spotted them the following day and promptly alerted the militia forces. The SEALs fought valiantly against "the numerically superior and positionally advantaged enemy force," according to the citation that accompanied the awards. Three of the four SEALs were wounded and forced into a ravine, where they radioed for help. An MH-47 Chinook helicopter with eight more SEALs and eight Army troops aboard went to the rescue, but was hit with a rocket-propelled grenade and crashed, killing all aboard.

Dietz and Axelson, though wounded, provided cover for their partner to escape. The teammate, whose name is being withheld to protect his identity, evaded the enemy for days before being rescued. He, too, received the Navy Cross at an earlier ceremony.

More than 300 family members, teammates and friends attended today's evening ceremony. A large contingent of sailors from SEAL Team 2 in Norfolk also journeyed to Washington to pay their respects.

SEAL teammates spoke about their friends during the ceremony. These men are heroes, not because of the way they died, but how they lived as well," said Lt. …

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