SAN DIEGO -- Naval Special Warfare Command (NAVSPECWARCOM) commemorated the men of Extortion 17 by unveiling a new memorial located at the command on the first anniversary of the helo crash Aug. 6.
More than 150 servicemembers, civilian employees and distinguished guests gathered in front of the command to pay their respects to the fallen heroes who perished while conducting critical special operations combat in Afghanistan.
Opening remarks were delivered by Capt. (SEAL) Jason Ehret, serving as master of ceremonies, who spoke of the men lost in the tragedy.
"Today marks the anniversary of Extortion 17, an operation in Afgahanistan that claimed the lives of 17 Navy SEALs, five NSW Sailors, eight U.S. Army aircrew and U.S. Air Force para-rescue and combat controllers as well as eight members from an Afghan security element.We are gathered here to mark this time in rememberence to reflect on their courage and their sacrifice," he said.
Rear Adm. Sean Pybus, commander, NAVSPECWARCOM, approached the podium shortly after to deliver remarks about the courageous men.
"Today we are dedicating a memorial to the mission, the men, and "Bart" the dog of Extortion 17," said Pybus. "We are a military organization. We exist only because our nation comes under threat from others. At the end of any day or night only our warriors stand between us and those who would harm us. The 30 American Soldiers and dog (Bart) memorialized here today join the long and hallowed roll of warriors killed in action fighting on our behalf."
Pybus also spoke of the level of experience that was lost that day, as well as the bravery and fighting spirit of the men.
"Extortion 17 was years of combat experience; men and teams that new only success - who conducted the most difficult missions, who loved defending our freedom. These particular men would fly again into a fight if called upon," he said.
At the conclusion of Pybus' remarks, he and NSW Force Master Chief (SEAL) Stephen Link lifted a cloth covering the memorial which consists of a three-ton boulder with a bronze plaque inset containing the names of the fallen.
The bugler soon began to play "Taps" and salutes were rendered to honor the brave men to conclude the ceremony.
At the ceremony's conclusion, the NAVSPECWARCOM staff took turns visiting the memorial and reading the names of the fallen hereos.