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The Unsung Navy Seal Heroes You Never Heard About

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The Unsung Navy Seal Heroes You Never Heard About

The ‘Great War’, a phrase coined before World War I had even begun, created and bred many great men of war.

But those days have long been wiped out, as the fight against terrorism requires new conventions and practices – namely anonymous ones, and those “great men of war” are now replaced by unsung heroes.

The United States Navy’s Sea, Air and Land Teams, are commonly known as SEALS, and are the U.S Navy’s principle special operations force.

During the War on Terror, SEALs have been utilized almost exclusively for land-based operations, including Hostage Rescue, unconventional warfare, Direct Action, Counter Terrorism, foreign internal defence operations and Counter Terrorism.

So discreet do Navy SEALS have to remain, that they actually call themselves “Team Silent”, for their anonymity and keeping silent about their missions is imperative.

Because of this incessant emphasis on maintaining obscurity from the public eye, many of the heroes of the War on Terror, unlike their predecessors, remain unsung.

Silent Heroes for the Sake of Security

For example, the Navy SEAL that killed Osama bin Laden back in May of this year has remained a silent hero.  His identity has remained secret for security reasons, and has only received private recognition from his fellow elitist members of ‘Team 6’.

Unfortunately, more often than not, the unsung heroes of the Afghanistan War are only identified and attributed for their bravery when they have been killed, and even then, the circumstances surrounding their death remain unclear, again for security reasons.

The latest example of heroic troops, remaining unidentified and anonymous until after their death, is what has been referred to as being the ‘deadliest day for U.S forces in the nearly 10-year war in Afghanistan’.

On August 20, 2011, 30 Americans were killed, including Navy SEAL Commandos, after insurgents shot down a Chinook transport helicopter.

The latest deaths bring the number of coalition troops killed in Afghanistan this year to 365, with 40 being killed during the month of August.

Mourning Lost Heroes

Much of the community of South Sioux City was in mourning after Navy SEAL John Douangdara was amongst those killed when the helicopter he was riding in was brought down.

Douangdora was the lead dog handler for the Elite Team 6 of the Navy SEALs.

To help the community better understand what the fallen Navy SEAL did and who he was, a memorial was held in Sioux City on August 27th, as well as a remembrance fund set up at the Siouxland Federal Credit Union and F&M Bank. The city council committee has even recommended naming a new dog park after him.

When speaking about how heroic John Douangdora was, his sister Chan said:

“He was a caring brother, he was a concerned uncle. He sacrificed his life because he embraced the country that gave my parents the opportunity to raise us here and gave us the opportunity to better ourselves. I don’t think a lot of people understand it. We are still trying to understand what their line of work does.”

This tragic story highlights the how Navy SEALs are all too often the unsung heroes of the war in Afghanistan.

The Finest Soldiers in the World

In 2003 at an awards ceremony, the then-Major Mark E.Mitchell, US Army, said the words “you’re the only people I ever hoped would consider me a hero,” to his wife and daughters.

Mitchell was the recipient of the first Distinguished Service Cross (DSC) in the on-going global war against terrorism for his gallantry shown in leading a team of 16 American and British soldiers into combat operations against Taliban and al-Qaeda-trained fighters.

When he was awarded with the award, Mitchell said:

“I don’t consider myself a hero. I am not personally convinced that my actions warranted more than a pat on the back. Wearing the Special Forces foreign-service combat patch on my shoulder and serving with the finest soldiers in the world is enough. I was just doing my job and our mission was accomplished.”

Mitchell’s heart-felt words can be associated with all of the troops risking their lives daily in Afghanistan.

Although unfortunately, as in the case of John Douangdora, the lead dog handler for the Elite Team 6 of the Navy SEALs, and the 29 other American troops killed along with him, their gallant achievements whilst ‘just doing their job’, remain unrewarded, and it is only in the wake of their deaths that they are properly acknowledged .

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