The Cause

Never Forget, Forever Honor
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ABOUT

Legacy Expeditions values those who serve and protect our great nation. To honor their sacrifices, we dedicate each expedition to the fallen Marines, soldiers, sailors, and airmen who gave their lives during the Global War on Terror.
MISSION
These exceptional Americans have demonstrated selfless acts of courage, bravery, and valor in defense of our liberties and freedoms.

While we could never repay this debt, Legacy Expeditions partners with the Special Operations Warrior Foundation and Folds of Honor, non-profits that provide financial support to help the children of fallen Special Operations soldiers and first responders get an education. That’s only part of what these incredible organizations do to thank our nation’s heroes – a mission we’re honored to support.

Triple7: 2023

A record-breaking adventure following a group of former Special operations soldiers on a 7-day epic journey across 7 continents to raise 1,400 life-changing scholarships in support of the families of fallen and disabled service members and first responders.

 

Each expedition member honored a fallen service member in each continent, and they all honored the ‘Kabul 13’ in an 8th jump in Tampa, FL.

Michael Monsoor (Navy SEAL)

(1981-2006)
Michael Anthony Monsoor was a United States Navy SEAL who was killed during the Invasion of Iraq and posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor. He enlisted in the United States Navy in 2001 and graduated from Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL Training BUD/S class 250 in 2004.

David McDowell (75th RGR)

(1977 - 2008)

SFC David L. McDowell from California served with the 2nd Ranger Battalion – An Army Ranger Sergeant First Class, he was killed on April 29 in a firefight with Taliban forces in Bastion in southern Afghanistan’s Helmand province, southwest of Kabul. McDowell, 30, was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment at Ft. Lewis, Wash. He was serving his seventh deployment in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Ben Bitner (Army Special Forces)

(1973-2011)
Master Sgt. Benjamin F. Bitner was born July 4, 1973, in Hagerstown, Md., and was a 1991 graduate of Greencastle Antrim High School in Greencastle, Pa. Bitner died from wounds sustained from an improvised explosive device (IED). Bitner enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1991 and attended Special Forces Assessment and Selection in 1999. Later that year he graduated from the Special Forces Qualification Course as an engineer sergeant. He joined C Company, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne), headquartered at Fort Bragg, N.C., in 2003. He deployed in support of various operations across the globe, including but not limited to Operation Flintlock, Africa, 2001; Operation Nectar Bend, Africa, 2004; Task Force Falcon in support of operations in Kosovo, 2001 – 2002; Operation Desert Spring, Kuwait, 2002; Operation Iraqi Freedom and four deployments to Afghanistan (Operation Enduring Freedom) with Company C.

Dave Hall (Navy SEAL)

(1972-2020)
David “Dave” Lee Hall, was one of the youngest men to become a Navy SEAL. Dave graduated from BUD/S Training Class 189. He completed four platoons at SEAL Team FIVE and was known for his wit, performance, high standards, and love for protecting his country. Dave spent five years at a Special Mission Unit and deployed multiple times to Middle East combat zones. Dave continued to work in the Defense Industry where he was able to use his unique skills, consulting for counter-insurgency operations. Dave passed away on October 12, 2020.

Marc Lee (Navy SEAL)

(1978-2006)
Marc Alan Lee was a United States Navy SEAL. He was the first SEAL to lose his life in Operation Iraqi Freedom when he was killed in a fierce firefight while on patrol against insurgents in Ramadi. Lee was posthumously awarded the Silver Star, the Bronze Star Medal with Valor and the Purple Heart

SOCM Lou Langlais (Navy SEAL)

( 1966-2011)
On August 6, 2011, Master Chief Petty Officer (SEAL) Louis Langlais was one of 30 American service members killed in action during a mission in the Wardak Province of Afghanistan. A group of U.S. Army Special Forces was on a mission to obtain a high-value target in the mountains of Afghanistan when they came under fire from opposition forces. A team of U.S. Army and Afghanistan military members, along with 22 members of the Naval Special Warfare community, quickly responded to help suppress the opposition forces and assist with evacuating the high-value target. While returning to base, the CH-47 Chinook Helicopter carrying the team was struck by a rocket-propelled grenade, killing all members onboard. He was assigned to an East Coast-based SEAL team.

Sgt. Matthew Abbate (USMC)

(1984-2010)
Matthew Thomas Abbate was born in September 1984 and raised in Fresno, California. He graduated from Sierra Charter High and enlisted in the Marine Corps in 2006.

He was a member of the “Darkhorse,” 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force based at Camp Pendleton, California. Abbate served three tours of duty in Iraq, Japan, and Afghanistan, where he was killed in action on Dec. 2, 2010.

David Espinoza (USMC)

(2001 - 2021)
Lance Corporal David Lee Espinoza gave his life for the protection and betterment of his country, his servicemen and women, as well as those he was sworn to protect and defend on August 26, 2021, in Kabul, Afghanistan.

As a toddler, he always wanted to play with his plastic soldiers, envisioning different scenarios.  No matter how many years have passed since then, he always told everyone that knew him that he was going to become a US Marine.  A dream he pursued into reality when he joined the ranks of the United States Marine Corps in August of 2019, two years ago.  David was born in Laredo, Texas, and raised in Rio Bravo, Texas, his hometown.  Never the outspoken type, he was shy at first, but when you got to know him, you got to know the beautiful, caring, honest, and loyal person he truly was.  He was educated in the United Independent School District, having attended Lyndon B. Johnson High School, graduating in the summer of 2019.  Immediately after graduating, he went off to MCRD in San Diego, California for basic training.  Lance Corporal Espinoza then went to the school of Infantry at Camp  Pendleton and most recently, received his orders to Afghanistan for the withdrawal of the US forces after a 20-year-long conflict. David never once complained about his assignment, rather, took it to heart to give back to those whom he was sent to protect. He, alongside 12 other servicemen and women, was killed in action, doing what they were trained to do: protect and defend.  Although that fateful day will forever be remembered and forged in our hearts and minds, comfort is taken in the amount of love, support, and encouragement the community, and the nation has given to us, his beloved family.

Nicole Gee (USMC)

(1998-2021)

Nicole Leeann Gee was born May 1, 1998 in Vail, Colorado. She passed away at 23 years old, in Kabul, Afghanistan on August 26th, 2021. She met her husband, Jarod Gee while in high school, and they were married in a private ceremony in August 2016. They were stationed together at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, where they lived with their two dogs and close friends. Nicole entered active duty in the Marine Corps in August 2017. She went through recruit training at Parris Island, South Carolina, School of Infantry East in Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, Aviation Accession and Primary Military Occupational Specialty School in Pensacola, Florida, and Marine Corps Communications and Electronics School in 29 Palms, California. She worked as a ground electronics transmission systems maintainer, and was assigned to Combat Logistics Battalion 24.

Nicole’s military awards and accomplishments include the Purple Heart Medal, Combat

Action Ribbon, Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Medal, Afghan Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Sea Service Deployment Ribbon, NATO Medal, Expert Rifle Qualification Third Award, becoming a Black Belt Martial Arts Instructor, setting weightlifting records at Al-Jaber Air Base, and of course, perfect scores in Combat Fitness Tests. She deployed with the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit in February 2021. Her last stop was a humanitarian mission in Afghanistan, where she assisted in evacuating more than 100,000 refugees.

Nicole was a beloved wife, sister, daughter, aunt, niece, cousin, granddaughter, friend, and a hero to the countless people whom she helped. She will always be remembered for her bravery, kindness, love, dedication, and selfless sacrifice in service to her country.

Darin Taylor Hoover (USMC)

(1990-2021)
SSGT Darin Taylor Hoover of the United States Marine Corps, 31, of Utah, was killed in action in Kabul, Afghanistan on August 26, 2021. Taylor joined the Marine Corps on September 13, 2010, and graduated from MCRD San Diego Boot Camp on December 10, 2010.

Ryan Knauss (USA)

(1998-2021)
Staff Sergeant Ryan Knauss age 23 of Fort Bragg, N.C. formerly of Corryton, Tn was the last American Servicemember to die in the 20 year war in Afghanistan on Thursday, August 26, 2021. He grew up in Corryton, Tn and was a 2016 graduate of Gibbs High School. From high school, Ryan joined the U. S. Army, and served as a Scout in the 82nd Airborne Division, and also served as a psychological operations NCO in the 9th Psychological Operations Battalion.

Hunter Lopez (USMC)

(1999-2021)
Marine Cpl. Hunter Lopez, 22, was among the 13 service members killed in an attack on the Kabul airport Thursday, Aug. 26, as the United States pulls out of Afghanistan after almost 20 years in the country. Hunter leaves behind his parents, Captain Herman Lopez, and Deputy Alicia Lopez of the Riverside County Sheriff’s Office.  Hunter was a Sheriff’s Explorer Scout with the Palm Desert Station from September 2014 to August 2017.  He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 1st Marines, and planned to join the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department after his deployment ended.

Rylee McCollum (USMC)

(2001-2021)

Lance Cpl. Rylee J. McCollum was born 26-FEB 2001 in Riverton. His father was James McCollum and his maternal mother was Kathy Plummer. His early years were spent in Dubois. At the age of 6, Rylee moved to Jackson Wyoming with his father, Jim, and his sisters, Cheyenne, Stephenie, and Roice. He attended Jackson Hole High School, where he competed as a wrestler, and was a 2019 graduate of Summit Innovations School in Jackson.

On Rylee’s 18th birthday he made the choice, to offer his service to the country. Family members say becoming a Marine was a life-long goal for him. He joined the Marines. He graduated from Marine Corps Boot Camp at Camp Pendleton, on 6-DEC 2019. While he was at boot camp he met “Gigi” the woman who would become his wife. His sister said, “He dreamed of one day becoming an American history teacher and a wrestling coach, passing down the same passions he picked up as a kid in Jackson.”

Shortly after his Marine Corps graduation Rylee and Gigi married on Valentine’s Day 2021 and were expecting a baby on 22-SEP 2021. Rylee was excited to become a father. His family expected that he would be home just in time to meet his new baby. The newlyweds wanted the baby’s gender to be a surprise.

Lance Corporal Rylee McCollum deployed to Jordan in April of 2021, with the 2nd Battalion, 1st Marines. His battalion’s deployment to the Middle East as part of the Special Purpose–Marine Air-Ground Task Force–Crisis Response–Central Command was his first deployment.

He deployed to Afghanistan and died after a suicide bomber detonated explosives outside Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport Kabul, Afghanistan. 26-AUG 2021. He was 20.

Dylan R. Merola (USMC)

(2001-2021)

20-year-old Marine Lance Corporal Dylan R. Merola was a beloved son, brother, grandson, great-grandson, nephew, great friend, and a brave soldier who paid the ultimate sacrifice at the Abbey Gate at Hamid Karzai International Airport during the Afghanistan evacuation. Merola was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force out of Camp Pendleton, California. The mission in Kabul was Merola’s inaugural overseas tour, upon return from which he had expected to buy his first car and apply to college studying engineering, according to his grandmother. Merola’s decision to go into the military was motivated by his two great-grandfathers who were Korean War veterans. Merola was a graduate of Los Osos High School in Rancho Cucamonga, California. Lance Corporal Merola was honored at his alma mater’s first football game of the season by attendees wearing red, white, and blue.

Kareem Nikoui (USMC)

(2001-2021)

Kareem Nikoui was a young United States Marine Corps officer stationed in Kabul from California. He was killed in the Kabul bombing on August 26, 2021. Kareem was one of the 13 United States Marines and military personnel killed in the brutal attack. He was only 20 years old at the time of his death. Kareem was a standout student at Norco High School who graduated in 2019. He joined JROTC after finishing his high school studies. He then began his professional career in the United States Marine Corps.

Daegan William-Tyeler Page (USMC)

(1998-2021)

Daegan William-Tyeler Page was born on February 6, 1998 in Omaha, Nebraska. He lived the first five years of his life in Red Oak, Iowa where he enjoyed many outdoor activities with his friends and family. At age 5, Daegan’s family moved to Omaha and he attended Millard Schools from kindergarten all the way to his graduation from Millard South High School in 2016. In September 2017, Daegan signed a delayed entry program contract with the Marine Corps. In January 2018, he left Omaha for Boot Camp at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego.

Throughout his 23 years, Daegan lived life to the fullest. Daegan will always be remembered for his fun-loving spirit, tough outer shell, and giant heart. Daegan loved the brotherhood of the Marines and was proud to serve as a member of the 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California. He deployed multiple times during his service and spent time in Japan, South Korea, Australia, Jordan, and Afghanistan. To Daegan’s younger siblings he was not only a Marine, but their real-life hero.

Johanny Rosario (USMC)

(1996-2021)

Marine Corps Sergeant Johanny Rosario Pichardo 25, a member of the 5th Marine Expeditionary Brigade, Naval Support Activity, Bahrain, and that brigade’s Female Engagement Team was screening women and children at the Abbey Gate of the Hamid Karzai International Airport, Kabul, Afghanistan died on Thursday, August 26, 2021, along with her 9 Marine Brothers, 1 Marine Sister, 1 US Navy Corpsman and 1 US Army soldier from a terrorist attack. In addition, nearly 200 Afghan men, women, and children died that day. Her family honors the US service men and women who were injured in the attack and pray for their quick recovery.

Humberto Sanchez (USMC)

(1998-2021)

Corporal Humberto Sanchez was born on December 2, 1998 in Logansport, Indiana to Coral Briseño and Humberto Sanchez.  He was the first of his family to be born in the United States, and the first to serve in the U.S. Military.  Corporal Sanchez was an excellent athlete.  He enjoyed playing football, running track, wrestling, and his favorite sport was soccer.  His mother describes him as a cactus; hard and scary on the outside, but really soft on the inside.  Corporal Sanchez was also a devoted student.  Through middle school and high school, he excelled in several honors and advanced placement classes.  In 2017, Corporal Sanchez graduated from Logansport High School and enlisted in the United States Marine Corps.  After graduating from Marine Basic Training and the Marine School of Infantry, Corporal Sanchez was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment in Camp Pendleton, California.  

In February 2021 Corporal Sanchez began his third deployment.  His battalion was assigned to the serve as the Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force (SPMAGTF) for Central Command.  Near the end of the deployment, the SPMAGTF was tasked with flying to Kabul, Afghanistan to assist in the evacuation of the U.S. Embassy, U.S. citizens, special immigrant visa applicants, and Afghans that had worked with U.S. personnel in the fight against terrorism.  On August 26, 2021, while conducting non-combatant evacuation operations from the Kabul International Airport, the SPMAGTF received intelligence of an impending bomb threat.  Corporal Sanchez was killed in action as he was moving civilians to safety.  

Corporal Sanchez’s awards include the Congressional Gold Medal, Purple Heart, Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, Combat Action Ribbon, Sea Service Deployment Ribbon, National Defense Service Medal, and the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal.

Jared Schmitz (USMC)

(2001-2021)

Schmitz, Lance Corporal Jared Marcus of the U.S. Marine Corps tragically died August 26, 2021 while deployed to Afghanistan. Jared, along with 12 other US service members — four of whom were in his squad — was killed in action while assisting with the heroic evacuation efforts that safely transported over 100,000 civilians out of the country from August 15 to August 30. He was 20 years old. Jared was born February 25, 2001 to Sue Livingston-Schmitz and Mark Joseph Schmitz who lived in St. Charles, MO during that time. After graduating 8th grade in 2015, Jared made the decision to move in with his father Mark and his family in O’Fallon, MO and attend Fort Zumwalt South High School. It was there he would formally commit to becoming a Marine, signing enlistment papers during his senior year. He graduated in 2019 and soon after began the 13-week Marine Corps Recruit Training at MCRD in San Diego, CA, officially completing training and becoming a Marine in October of that same year. Being a Marine was ultimately Jared’s proudest accomplishment, but he made space in his life for his many friends and interests. He loved goofing with friends and cheering on the Blues (LGB!). Oh, and video games of course.

Max Soviak (USN)

(1999-2021)

Maxton graduated from Edison High School in 2017 with a determined mind to join the Navy. He went to boot camp at Great Lakes Chicago and from there he went to Texas for A school. Once he graduated A school he was stationed in Guam. While in Guam he worked as a medic in vaccinations and surgery. Guam provided him with many opportunities to meet some amazing people and grow as a person. During his time there he enjoyed cliff diving, scuba diving, cross fit, wrestling, jujitsu, and was able to help start a biddy wrestling program.

He dreamed of going greenside with the Marines and was looking forward to making that dream come true. He attended Corpsman school in California at Camp Pendleton. Upon graduation he was assigned to 2/1 Ghost company. He felt a sense of pride and excitement as things were falling into place. While on a routine deployment to Jordan the battalion was called to assist with the humanitarian effort to evacuate those trying to escape the Taliban in Kabul.

On August 26th, 2021, while at Abbey gate he along with 12 other service members as well as over 170 Afghans were killed by a suicide bomber. Maxton died doing what he felt passionate about. Serving his country regardless of who they were and where they were born, saving one person at a time.

Maxton was awarded the Purple Heart, Combat Action Ribbon, Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Sea Service Deployment Ribbon, Navy/Marine Corps Overseas Service Ribbon, NATO Medal, Pistol Marksmanship Ribbon, and Fleet Marine Forces Specialist Warfare Designation.

Viking Sky Expedition: Iceland 2022

An adrenaline-filled skydiving adventure through the land of fire and ice named ‘Viking Sky: Iceland.’ Mike Sarraille and Andy Stumpf embarked on this journey in memory of fallen special operations forces and military service members.

Sean Flynn (SOC SEAL)

(1970-2009)
(1970-2009):
On February 1, 2009, SOC (SEAL) Sean Flynn peacefully passed away from cancer. He was a highly decorated Special Operations Chief who earned three Bronze Stars with Valor and numerous other awards. Chief Flynn loved skydiving and was a certified advanced free fall instructor, tandem master, and an avid free flyer. He was attached to an East Coast-based SEAL team.

David Hall (Navy SEAL)

(1972-2020)

(1972-2020):
David “Dave” Lee Hall, was one of the youngest men to become a Navy SEAL. Dave graduated from BUD/S Training Class 189. He completed four platoons at SEAL Team FIVE and was known for his wit, performance, high standards, and love for protecting his country. Dave spent five years at a Special Mission Unit and deployed multiple times to Middle East combat zones. Dave continued to work in the Defense Industry where he was able to use his unique skills, consulting for counter-insurgency operations. Dave passed away on October 12, 2020.

Tech. Sgt. Sean Harvell (Air Force CCT)

(1983-2016)
(1983-2016):
Combat controller, Tech Sgt. Sean Harvell was one of the legends of the Air Force special operations community, who received two Silver Stars for actions in Afghanistan, on the second person—and the first Airman, to receive two such awards during the Global War on Terror. Sean passed away on April 26, 2016, when he drowned near his home in Long Beach, CA. He was preceded in death by his brother, Andy Harvell, also a combat controller, who was killed on Extortion 17.

Charles Keating IV (Navy SEAL)

(1985-2016)
(1985-2016):
Charles Humphrey Keating IV was a United States Navy sailor and Navy SEAL operator. Charlie received the Navy Cross for his actions in battle on March 4, 2016, in Iraq. The Navy Cross is the United States Navy and United States Marine Corps’ second-highest military decoration awarded for members of the Navy who distinguish themselves for extraordinary heroism in combat with an armed enemy force. He was the third American service member to be killed while fighting ISIL in Iraq, in 2016.

Jonas Kelsall (Navy SEAL)

(1979-2011)
In August 2011, Lieutenant Commander (SEAL) Jonas Kelsall was killed in action during a mission in the Wardak Province of Afghanistan. A team of U.S. Army and Afghanistan military members, along with 22 members of the Naval Special Warfare community, quickly responded to help suppress the opposition forces and assist with the evacuation of the high-value target. While returning to base, the CH-47 Chinook Helicopter carrying the team, known as Extortion 17, was struck by a rocket-propelled grenade, killing all members onboard. He was assigned to an East Coast-based SEAL team and was the recipient of two Bronze Stars with Combat “V” device for Valor, among other citations and recognitions.

Senior Chief Petty Officer Shannon Kent (USN)

(1983-2019)
(1983-2019):
Shannon Mary Kent was a United States Navy Senior Chief Petty Officer and Cryptologic Technician, who played a pivotal role in increasing the effectiveness and performance of the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) task force leading to initiatives for broader implementation of females in Special Operations Forces (SOF). Shannon was killed on January 16, 2019, in Manbij, Syria, by a suicide attack. Shannon was a decorated servicewoman and received the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, and a Combat Action Ribbon posthumously.

Jason Lewis (Navy SEAL)

(1977-2007)
(1977-2007):
Jason Lewis enlisted in the U.S. Navy on February 29, 1996, and went on active duty to begin basic training on July 22, 1996. His first assignment was with SEAL Team Five in Coronado, CA. As an Assault Team Leader for a highly sensitive Joint Task Force Operation in direct support of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM, he was mortally wounded in a heroic attempt to provide additional security for his team on July 6, 2007. For this action, he was awarded the Bronze Star with Valor.

Brendan Looney (Navy SEAL)

(1981-2010)
(1981-2010):
Navy Lt. (SEAL) Brendan J. Looney was a Naval Academy lacrosse player and commissioned as an intelligence officer. Two years after receiving his commission as an intelligence officer, he graduated from BUD/S training Class 265 and was selected as ‘Honorman’, where his name is engraved in Naval Special Warfare history as the best that Class 265 had to offer. He was a member of SEAL Team Three and deployed as the Alpha Platoon Assistant Officer in Charge to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. He was killed on his 59th mission while conducting combat operations in the Zabul province of Afghanistan on Sept. 21, 2010.

Captain Matthew Manoukian (MARSOC)

(1983-2012)
(1983-2012):
Captain Matthew Manoukian joined the Marine Corps in January 2006 after earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from the University of Arizona. He deployed in support of both Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. In the early morning hours of Aug. 10, 2012, at the Village Stability Platform in Puzeh, following a meeting with local Afghan officials, a rogue local Afghan dressed in a police uniform opened fire on the team’s leadership killing Capt. Manoukian.

Sergeant First Class Dae Han Park (Army Special Forces)

(1975-2011)
(1975-2011):
Sgt. 1st Class Dae Han Park, was assigned to Charlie Company, 3rd Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne), Joint Base Lewis-McChord, WA, and was deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom-Afghanistan. Park was killed after his vehicle was struck by an improvised explosive device on March 12, 2011, in the vicinity of Kajran, Daykundi, Afghanistan. Park’s awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, two Army Commendation Medals, among others, as well as posthumously awarded the Purple Heart.

Remington Peters (Navy SEAL)

(1975-2018)
(1975-2018):
Special Warfare Operator (SEAL) Petty Officer 1st Class Remington Peters died on May 28th in a parachute demonstration accident at Liberty State Park in New Jersey in support of Fleet Week New York 2017. Peters enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 2008 and graduated from BUD/S with Class 276 in April 2010. He was known as a fierce warrior and guardian with a larger-than-life personality that included loyalty to family and friends, his faith, and intense pride for America. His awards include the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, and Combat Action Ribbon, among many others.

Gunnery Sergeant Diego Pongo (MARSOC)

(1985-2020)
Gunnery Sergeant Pongo was assigned to the Marine Raider Regiment in January of 2017, where he performed duties as the Regional Operations Chief. GySgt. Pongo was killed in action on March 8, 2020, while accompanying Iraqi Security Forces in North Central Iraq. Gunnery Sergeant Pongo’s personal awards include the Bronze Star Medal with combat “V”, Purple Heart, and Navy-Marine Corps Commendation Medal with Gold Star in lieu of 2nd award, among other awards.

Captain Kate Hendricks Thomas (USMC)

(1980-2022)
(1980-2022):
A former Marine Corps officer, died on April 5, 2022, at the age of 42. In 2018, she was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer believed to be connected to burn pit exposure in Iraq. In the years since Thomas tirelessly advocated for herself and other veterans trying to obtain health care and benefits for exposure-related illnesses.

Sergeant First Class Christopher Shaw (Army Special Forces)

(1972-2009)
(1972-2009):
Sgt. 1st Class Christopher D. Shaw was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne), Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. and was deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom-Philippines. Shaw died after his vehicle struck an improvised explosive device on Sept. 29, 2009, on Jolo Island, Philippines. He was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star Medal, the Purple Heart, the Meritorious Service Medal, and the Combat Infantryman Badge. Also killed was Staff Sgt. Jack M. Martin III.

First Lieutenant Ashley White (USA)

(1987-2011)
1st Lt. Ashley White was killed during combat operations in Kandahar Province, Afghanistan in 2011, when the assault force she was supporting triggered an improvised explosive device. Ashley was assigned to the 230th Brigade Support Battalion, 30th Heavy Brigade Combat Team, North Carolina National Guard, Goldsboro, NC and served as a member of a Cultural Support Team attached to a Joint Special Operations Task Force in Afghanistan.

Chad Wilkinson (Navy Seal)

(1975-2018)
Following in the footsteps of his father and uncle who were Navy SEALs, Chad graduated from BUD/s Class 204 in 1996 and went to SEAL Team 8 after completing his medic training at Fort Bragg. After three short years of retirement, Chad was back in uniform and fast-tracked to SEAL Team 6. After giving over 21 years of his life to this nation, Navy SEAL Senior Chief Chad Wilkinson, a decorated Tier One operator, passed away on October 29, 2018. His wife Sara and GORUCK are on a mission to stop veteran suicide and take a deeper look at Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).

Mt. Everest Expedition: 2021

Over the course of 15 days, the Mt. Everest Skydiving Expedition team conducted five jumps in the highest drop zones in the world in the Mt. Everest region, honoring the fallen warriors of Extortion 17. The 30 American deaths represent the most significant loss of U.S. military lives in a single incident in the decade-long war in Afghanistan that began in 2001.

Jonas B.Kelsall (NAVY SEAL)

In August 2011, Lieutenant Commander (SEAL) Jonas Kelsall was killed in action during a mission in the Wardak Province of Afghanistan. A team of U.S. Army and Afghanistan military members and 22 members of the Naval Special Warfare community quickly responded to help suppress the opposition forces and assist with evacuating the high-value target. While returning to base, the CH-47 Chinook Helicopter carrying the team, known as Extortion 17, was struck by a rocket-propelled grenade, killing all members onboard. He was assigned to an East Coast-based SEAL team and was the recipient of two Bronze Stars with Combat “V” device for Valor, among other citations and recognitions. He leaves behind his wife.

Louis J.Anglais (NAVY SEAL)

In August 2012, Special Warfare Operator Master Chief Petty Officer (SEAL) Louis J. Langlais was among 30 United States service members who passed away in the CH-47 Chinook helicopter crash in Wardak province, Afghanistan. The SEAL gave his life in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. The Travis Manion Foundation honored MCSO (SEAL) Louis Langlais with 30 other Fallen Heroes through our Character Does Matter program at the Westover School in Middlebury, Conn, on Jan. 18, 2013. He leaves behind his wife and two children.
“Lou Langlais was a Navy SEAL, a precision parachute jumper, and a rock climber who scaled cliffs, sometimes without a rope. With a striking ability to suppress fear, he was known for leading his comrades into dangerous situations with a sense of calm, confidence, and even fun.”– LA Times

Thomas A. Ratzlaff (NAVY SEAL)

In August 2011, Special Warfare Operator Senior Chief (SEAL/SW) Thomas Arthur Ratzlaff was killed when a coalition CH-47 Chinook helicopter crashed in Afghanistan. Senior Chief Ratzlaff was a Naval Special Warfare Operator assigned to an East Coast-based Special Warfare Unit. He was on his 12th deployment in support of the War on Terror, with nine previous deployments to Afghanistan and one to Iraq. His awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal for Valor (4 awards), the Joint Service Commendation Medal, the Navy / Marine Corps Commendation Medal, and the Navy / Marine Corps Achievement Medal (2 awards). He has also been awarded the Combat Action Ribbon, Good Conduct Medal (4 awards), National Defense Service Medal, Presidential Unit Citation, Meritorious Unit Commendation, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Kosovo Campaign Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Sea Service Deployment Ribbon (7 awards), NATO Medal, and both the Rifle and Pistol Marksmanship badges as well as the Enlisted Surface Warfare Specialist device. He was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star Medal for Valor (5th award), Defense Meritorious Service Medal, and the Purple Heart. Senior Chief Ratzlaff was awarded the Star of Military Valor, Canada’s second highest military award for valor. Thomas was the only non-Canadian ever to receive this award.

Kraig M. Vickers (USN)

In August 2011, Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician Senior Chief Petty Officer (Expeditionary Warfare Specialist/Freefall Parachutist) Kraig M. Vickers of Kokomo, was assigned to an East Coast-based Naval Special Warfare unit, passed away in Wardak province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when his CH-47 Chinook helicopter crashed. Kraig was selected as an NSWDG EOD Operator and assigned to TACDEVRON THREE, where he completed numerous deployments worldwide to support the Global War on Terrorism. Senior Chief Vickers was a highly decorated combat veteran with numerous awards, including the Silver Star, four Bronze Star Medals with “V” Device, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Joint Service Commendation Medal with “V” Device, two Purple Heart Medals, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, three Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals, two Combat Action Ribbons, Presidential Unit Citation, National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Iraqi Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, and numerous other personal and unit decorations. He leaves behind his wife and their three children.

Brian R. Bill (NAVY SEAL)

In August 2011, SOC (SEAL) Brian R. Bill, 31, of Stamford, CT, was among 30 United States service members who passed away in the CH-47 Chinook helicopter crash in Wardak province, Afghanistan. The Special Warfare Operator was assigned to a SEAL team supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. He was awarded three Bronze Stars with Valor, a Joint Service Commendation Medal with Valor, a Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, a Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, and two Combat Action Ribbons, and three Good Conduct Medals. The Travis Manion Foundation honored SOC (SEAL) Bill and his two best friends.
“Brian Bill, my cousin, was one of those heroes. Brian was noble, compassionate, gentle, humble, and dedicated to his family and teammates. But what I saw personally was his joy and love for others.” –Brian’s cousin, Julia Davis, Westover School senior

John W. Faas (NAVY SEAL)

SOC (SEAL) John W. Faas was one of 30 United States service members killed in the Aug. 6, 2011, CH-47 Chinook helicopter crash in Wardak province, Afghanistan. He was survived by family and friends; his legacy is remembered through the John Faas Foundation.
“As a principal, you hope you impact kids’ lives, but once in a while, you have a kid that goes through that kind of impact on your life, and I think of John as one of those kids.” – Dean Erickson, via CBS Minnesota

Kevin A. Houston (NAVY SEAL)

In August 2011, SOC (SEAL) Kevin A. Houston passed away in a CH-47 Chinook helicopter crash, killing 29 other United States service members. He lived in Virginia with his wife and three children. Houston was also survived by his mother, Jan Brown, and his brother, Craig.
“He was doing what he always wanted to do, defending the country as a SEAL. He achieved his dream.” – Christopher Kelly, via Cape News

Matthew D. Mason (NAVY SEAL)

A severe arm injury during fighting in Fallujah in 2004 didn’t keep Matthew Mason off the Iraq War battlefield. Nor did it dull the competitive fire of the avid runner and former high school athlete from outside Kansas City. Mason competed in a triathlon within five months of losing part of his left arm, absorbing shrapnel, and suffering a collapsed lung. He soon returned to his SEAL unit.
“He could have gotten out of combat,” said family friend Elizabeth Frogge. “He just insisted on going back.” Mason, the father of two toddler sons, grew up in Holt, Mo., and played football and baseball at Kearney High School. Frogge said. “He loved doing what he did,” she said. “He was the type of guy who thought he was invincible.”

Stephen M. Mills (NAVY SEAL)

Special Warfare Operator Chief Petty Officer (SEAL) Stephen M. Mills of Fort Worth, Texas, was one of 30 soldiers killed on Aug. 6, 2011, in a CH-47 Chinook helicopter crash in Wardak province, Afghanistan. Before joining the SEALS, Mills served on the now-decommissioned Spruance-class destroyer Kinkaid for three years. He completed BUD/S training in 2001 and moved from a west coast SEAL team to an east coast SEAL team in March 2005. Mills is the recipient of several decorations, including two Bronze Star Medals with ‘V’ device for valor, a Joint Service Commendation Medal with ‘V’ device for valor, four Navy/Marine Corps Achievement Medals (one with ‘V’ device for valor), a Combat Action Ribbon, a Presidential Unit Citation, and many more.
His cousin, Tina Mills Cunningham, remembered him by saying, “He was always giving to other people, and he loved his country.”

Nicholas H. Null (USN)

Nick Null enlisted in the U.S. Navy on September 20, 2000, and completed basic training at NTC Great Lakes, Illinois, in November 2000. Null next attended Gunner’s Mate A School at Great Lakes from December 2000 to May 2001 and then served with Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit 6 at Panama City, Florida, from May 2001 to September 2003. During this time, he participated in combat operations in Iraq during the opening phase of Operation Iraqi Freedom in March 2003. Petty Officer Null next attended Explosive Ordnance Disposal training from September 2003 to September 2004, followed by service with Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit 2 at Virginia Beach, Virginia, from September 2004 to January 2009. During this time, he again deployed to Iraq from January to May 2006, January to July 2007, and August to December 2008. He also deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan from February to July 2005 and January to June 2006, concurrently with one of his deployments to Iraq. His final assignment was with the Naval Special Warfare Development Group at Dam Neck, Virginia, from January 2009 until he was killed in the crash of the CH-47 Chinook helicopter “Extortion 17” in Afghanistan on August 6, 2011. Nick Null was buried at Sunset Memory Gardens in Parkersburg, West Virginia.

Robert J. Reeves (NAVY SEAL)

Robert Reeves grew up in Shreveport, Louisiana; In 2011, Reeves deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. On Aug. 5, the battalion conducted a direct-action raid in the village of Jaw-e-Mekh Zareen in Wardak. Their target was a Taliban insurgent Qari Tahir. The battalion secured the compound but was unable to take out Tahir. On Aug. 6. Reeves was on a CH-47D Chinook helicopter with other team members returning to base, call sign “Extortion 17.” A rocket-propelled grenade round hit the aft-rotor assembly and sent the helicopter to the ground. All aboard died. Reeves has multiple awards and decorations.

Heath M. Robinson (NAVY SEAL)

In 1993, after the downing of a Black Hawk helicopter in Mogadishu, Somalia Heath,  Senior Chief Special Operator Heath Michael Robinson was inspired to become a Navy SEAL. Immediately following high school in January 1996, he enlisted in the United States Navy. After a two-year tour in Okinawa, Japan, he returned to Coronado and entered BUD/S Class 226. After six months of the most grueling and demanding training in the military. He was assigned to SEAL Team Three, and after completing one tour, he transferred to SEAL Team Seven. Senior Chief Robinson began a rigorous selection and training course with the Naval Special Warfare Development Group (NSWDG). 

Heath Robinson was a highly decorated combat veteran with 45+  awards. Heath was a member of Extortion 17. Senior Chief Heath Robinson is survived by his wife and daughter (his princess), his loving parents and brothers, teammates, family, and friends.

Darrik C. Benson (NAVY SEAL)

On August 6, 2011, Chief Petty Officer (SEAL) Darrik Benson was one of 30 American service members killed in action during a mission in the Wardak Province of Afghanistan. Darrik enlisted in the Navy, attended Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training, and later checked into Naval Special Warfare Advanced Training Command at Coronado. He joined a West Coast-based SEAL Team in June 2003 and then moved to an East Coast-based SEAL team in September 2009. He has 10+ awards and decorations.

Christopher G. Campbell (NAVY SEAL)

Died on August 6, 2011, Serving During Operation Enduring Freedom. Chris Campbell told his family that if he was killed in the line of duty, he wanted the local newspaper to write about his life and death, with a request for donations in his memory to the Wounded Warrior Project. The project helps wounded service members recover from their war injuries.

Campbell served with a West Coast-based SEAL team until 2004, when he reported to the Naval Special Warfare Advanced Training Detachment at Key West, Fla. He joined the East Coast-based SEAL team in February 2006 and received multiple awards and decorations during his military career.

Jared W. Day (NAVY SEAL)

On Aug. 6, 2011, Information Systems Technician Petty Officer 1st Class Jared W. Day was one of the thirty-one service members who died in a CH-47 Chinook helicopter crash in Wardak province, Afghanistan.  The Taylorsville native was 28; he enlisted in the Navy in 2002.  Over his decade in the service, Day earned several awards, including a Joint Service Commendation Medal with Valor.

The Travis Manion Foundation honored Information Systems Technician PO1 Jared W. Day with 30 other Fallen Heroes through our Character Does Matter program at the Westover School in Middlebury.

John Douangdara (NAVY SEAL)

MA1 John ‘Jet Li’ Douangdara, 26, of South Sioux City, Neb., was one of thirty-one United States service members who died in the Aug. 6, 2011, CH-47 Chinook helicopter crash in Wardak province, Afghanistan. Douangdara, a 2003 South Sioux City High School graduate, was a dog handler for the Navy SEALS and went on five tours overseas. His family and friends survived him.

“I don’t think my brother would call himself a hero. He was doing his job, doing what he believed in. But in our hearts, he’ll always be our hero.”

-Chan Follen, via Sioux City Journal

The Travis Manion Foundation honored MA1 John Douangdara with 30 other Fallen Heroes through our Character Does Matter program at the Westover School in Middlebury

Michael J. Strange (NAVY SEAL)

In August 2011, he would find himself supporting his comrades-in-arms in Afghanistan. During this time, Michael’s fellow service members would note that he was a hard worker, physically fit, and a real credit to the United States Navy. On August 6th, Petty Officer Strange’s team was called upon to participate in a mission to interdict an insurgent attack on U.S. forces. As the team’s helicopter neared the designated landing zone, it took a direct hit from an insurgent-fired rocket-propelled grenade. Michael, along with 29 members of his team and 8 Afghans, was killed, making it the deadliest single loss for U.S. forces in the decade-long war in Afghanistan. Michael would leave behind a loving family and fiancée.

Jon T. Tumilson (NAVY SEAL)

On August 6, 2011, Chief Petty Officer (SEAL) Jon Tumilson was one of 30 American service members who were killed in action during a mission in the Wardak Province of Afghanistan. A group of U.S. Army Special Forces was on a mission to obtain a high-value target in the mountains of Afghanistan when they came under fire from opposition forces. A team of U.S. Army and Afghanistan military members and 22 members of the Naval Special Warfare community quickly responded to help suppress the opposition forces and assist with evacuating the high-value target. While returning to base, the CH-47 Chinook Helicopter carrying the team was struck by a rocket-propelled grenade, killing all members onboard. He was assigned to an East Coast-based SEAL team.

Aaron C. Vaughn (NAVY SEAL)

On August 6, 2011, Chief Petty Officer (SEAL) Aaron Vaughn was one of 30 American service members who were killed in action during a mission in the Wardak Province of Afghanistan. A group of U.S. Army Special Forces was on a mission to obtain a high-value target in the mountains of Afghanistan when they came under fire from opposition forces. A team of U.S. Army and Afghanistan military members and 22 members of the Naval Special Warfare community quickly responded to help suppress the opposition forces and assist with evacuating the high-value target. While returning to base, the CH-47 Chinook Helicopter carrying the team was struck by a rocket-propelled grenade, killing all members onboard. He was assigned to an East Coast-based SEAL team.

Jason R. Workman (NAVY SEAL)

Chief Special Warfare Operator (SEAL) Jason R. Workman of Blanding, Utah, had his sights set on becoming a SEAL as a young teenager. Jason was assigned to an East Coast-based SEAL team; he died Aug. 6 in Wardak province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when the CH-47 Chinook helicopter in which he was riding was shot down. Jason was a man who loved life and was a friend to everyone he met. People remember him for the big smile he always greeted you with and the fact that he always stood up for the underdog and came to the aid of anyone who needed his help.

Jesse D. Pittman (NAVY SEAL)

Jesse Pittman was born in Arcata, California, on April 20, 1984. After working as a firefighter for the California Department of Forestry, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy on and went on active duty to begin basic training on August 17, 2005. His first assignment was with SEAL Team FIVE at NAB Coronado, from April 2007 until he was killed in action when the CH-47 Chinook helicopter he was aboard was shot down in Afghanistan on August 6, 2011. During this time, Petty Officer Pittman deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom multiple times. He also deployed to Yemen to support Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2010 and 2011.

Nicholas P. Spehar (NAVY SEAL)

Nicolas was assigned to a West Coast-based Naval Special Warfare unit. He died Aug. 6 in Wardak province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when the CH-47 Chinook helicopter in which he was riding was shot down.

Spehar completed basic training at NTC Great Lakes, Illinois, then attended Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training at NAB Coronado, California. He next participated in Naval Special Warfare Advanced (SEAL Qualification) Training at NAB Coronado and at Kodiak, Alaska, followed by service with SEAL Team FIVE at NAB Coronado from September 2008 until he was killed in action when the CH-47 Chinook helicopter he was aboard was shot down in Afghanistan on August 6, 2011. During this time, Petty Officer Spehar deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom multiple times.

David R. Carter (US ARMY)

Carter was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 135th Aviation Regiment (General Support Aviation Battalion), Colorado National Guard, Aurora, Colo.; died Aug. 6 at COP Sayed Abad, Wardak province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when the CH-47 Chinook helicopter in which he was riding was shot down.

Carter was a full-time Guardsman and an instructor pilot. He was a skilled aviator with more than 700 hours of combat flying time, Army Col. Chris Petty said. Carter was one of two pilots flying the Chinook CH-47D on Saturday when it was shot down by a rocket-propelled grenade fired by an insurgent. Petty said he was passionate about training young aviators and left behind “much more than dozens” of new pilots he taught.

Spencer C. Duncan (ARMY)

When Spencer joined the United States Army Reserves, he landed a coveted spot in the 7/158th Aviation Regiment as a Chinook helicopter repairer. The Spencer C. Duncan Make It Count Project was born out of a life well-lived. Army Specialist Spencer C. Duncan was living his dream of making a difference in this world when he was killed in action on August 6, 2011. Since then, we have heard numerous stories of people who have taken the Make It Count message and asked themselves what they can do to make each day count.

Spencer was always fascinated with flying, but the Chinook captured his attention. He loved those workhorses and diligently applied himself to learn everything he could about how Chinooks operate. He studied and put himself into the big middle of any part of those helicopters every chance he had. And at every opportunity, he flew.

John W. Brown (USAF)

On August 6, 2011, Technical Sergeant John W. Brown was killed when their coalition CH-47 Chinook helicopter crashed in Maiden Wardak Province in eastern Afghanistan. Among twenty-five Special Operations Command operators, they died in the crash, taking the lives of five Army Reserve Soldiers, seven Afghan commandos, and one civilian interpreter. Brown has multiple awards and decorations.

Andrew W. Harvell (USAF)

Staff Sergeant Andrew W. Harvell, a combat controller assigned to the 24th Special Tactics Squadron, 724th Special Tactics Group, was killed when their coalition CH-47 Chinook helicopter crashed in Maiden Wardak Province in eastern Afghanistan. Among twenty-five Special Operations Command operators, they died in the crash, taking the lives of five Army Reserve Soldiers, seven Afghan commandos, and one civilian interpreter. Harvell was awarded multiple awards and decorations.

Daniel L. Zerbe (USAF)

Daniel Zerbe enlisted in the U.S. Air Force on August 21, 2001, and completed basic training at Lackland AFB, Texas, in October 2001. After completing the U.S. Air Force Pararescue training pipeline, Sgt Zerbe served as a Pararescueman with the 38th Rescue Squadron at Moody AFB, Georgia, from March 2003 to May 2006. He then served as a Pararescueman and Special Tactics Team Member with the 24th Special Tactics Squadron at Pope AFB, North Carolina, from May 2006 until he was killed in action when the CH-47 Chinook helicopter he was aboard was shot down in Afghanistan on August 6, 2011. During this time, TSgt Zerbe deployed multiple times to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

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