On June 28, 2005, a SEAL Team 10, commanded by Lt. Michael P. Murphy was tasked to locate a high value Taliban leader in the Hindu Kush mountains of Afghanistan. The team was comprised of
Lt. Michael P. Murphy, commanding.
Petty Officer 2nd Class Danny P. Dietz
Petty Officer 2nd Class Matthew G. Axelson
Petty Officer First Class Marcus Luttrell
The team’s position was compromised when three goat herds stumbled on to the position. With about a hundred goats milling around, the SEAL team took stock of their situation. Fearing that the goat herders would report their position, they discussed executing them. One being a 14 year old boy. Their communication to higher headquarters was cut off and they were on their own. Although the civilians presented a clear and present danger to the team, it was decided that the goat herds would be released and the team would hope for the best.
Within hours after releasing their captives, the team was attacked by about 100 Taliban fighters. A two hour gun battle in sued. The entire team was wounded. With normal communications still cut off, Lt. Murphy resorted to his cell phone. Leaving his cover, Murphy exposed himself to direct enemy fire in order to make the call. He requested air support and immediate extraction of his team. “My guys are dying out here, we need help!” Murphy was then struck in the back by enemy fire. He picked the phone back up to give their position to Headquarters. Murphy then flanked the enemy and advanced on their position firing all the way.
A CH-46 helicopter with 16 Special Forces aboard and escorted by Apache attack helicopters. The CH-46 outpaced their escort and the pilot decided to land in the hot LZ unescorted. The helicopter was struck by an RPG. It crashed killing all aboard.
The team fought on. Dietz died first. Then Murphy. Luttrell cradled the mortally wounded Axelson in his arms. Axelson implored Luttrell to evade and escape. A grenade explosion blew the two apart, killing Axelson and wounding Lutrell again.
Luttrell successfully evaded the remaining Taliban and then with help of local Afghanis returned to his base.
Dietz, Axelson and Luttrell were awarded the Navy Cross for this action. Lt. Michael P. Murphy was awarded the Medal of Honor.