Although this is not a firearms-related post, it is relevant both within the firearms industry and because it is a point of respect – and pride. June 28, 2016 is the 11th anniversary of Operation Red Wings. The nation at large became far more aware of it thanks to the movie Lone Survivor, which was released in 2013, but the events of that day have been felt by many for far longer. And for some, those events have altered their lives drastically and permanently.
“On June 28, 2005, four SEALs – Lt. Michael “Murph” Murphy, Gunner’s Mate 2nd Class Danny Dietz, Sonar Technician 2nd Class Matthew “Axe” Axelson, and Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Marcus Luttrell – were carrying out an op to place eyes on known terrorist Ahmad Shah. After positioning themselves amongst the shale of a mountainside in the Hindu Kush east of Asadabad, they were compromised by a trio of supposed goatherders. Deciding it would violate the ROE to kill the three Afghans, the SEALs let them go and immediately moved out. Just a few short hours later, the men were fighting for their lives, and when the proverbial dust settled, only Marcus Luttrell had physically survived.” (excerpt from “The Brotherhood: Remembering the 9th Anniversary of Operation Red Wings”)
Nineteen men were killed during the course of the failed op. The three SEALs were killed in the firefight against insurgent forces and sixteen more men who made up the QRF and were making what would become the first rescue attempt were killed when their helicopter was shot down by an RPG. Of those sixteen, eleven were SEALs while the remaining eight were Night Stalkers. SEAL Marcus Luttrell survived as a result of his military brothers sacrifices in combat and due to his being stumbled upon by an Afghani whose village believed in not only extending but enforcing Lokhay Warkawal. That Pashtun code of honor included being willing to give their own lives to protect his.
11 years may have passed but the pain of those losses remains fresh for the families of the men who died. Some families have worked tirelessly to build a long-term memorial to one or more of the men. Marcus Luttrell works with a number of charitable organizations but it is his Lone Survivor Foundation that stands out among the others. The Lone Survivor Foundation is a 501(c)3 that works to help wounded servicemembers and their families heal both physically and mentally. Marcus felt the environment in which he recovered from his own devastating injuries would benefit others, and he uses his foundation to make it happen. Others such as the Axelson family – Matt Axelson was one of the three SEALs killed during the firefight on the ground – strive to help other military families and organizations in various ways while building a business as a constantly-growing tribute to their loved one. Axelson Tactical manufacturers high-quality firearms and although they’re a new company, they’re certainly a promising one. They do it all in Matt’s memory.
The sacrifices made on that shale-strewn mountainside in 2005 are important to remember for many reasons. First and foremost is the simple fact that sacrifices such as those made by the men of Operation Red Wings are what make America, America. We enjoy more freedoms than any other nation thanks to the blood, sweat, and tears of our military. We enjoy Second Amendment rights because men like Danny Dietz, Matt Axelson, Mike Murphy, and Marcus Luttrell signed a blank check for this country. We also enjoy freedom of speech – something I am sure some of you will utilize in the comments section – due to the efforts of these men. Their memories should be respected and remembered for reasons far too numerous to list here.
If you’re interested in learning more about Operation Red Wings I highly suggest going right to the source by reading “Lone Survivor.” The book was written in a collaborative effort between Marcus Luttrell and writer Patrick Robinson; Luttrell told his story to Robinson who turned it into written words. The movie is nicely done but it is, after all, Hollywood – so it isn’t entirely accurate. Read the book. It’s well worth it.
A few websites to consider visiting: Lone Survivor Foundation at http://lonesurvivorfoundation.org/, Axelson Tactical at https://axelsontactical.com/, and Reaper Outdoors at http://reaperoutdoors.com/.
Axelson Tactical is manufacturing a Danny Dietz tribute rifle (the Matt Axelson tribute rifle was the gun that got the company started). You can read about it in either of these posts from SHOT – “Danny Dietz Tribute Rifle by Axelson Tactical” or “SHOT Show 2016: Danny Dietz Tribute Rifle.” Visit the website for a closer look: http://axelsontactical.com/products/tribute-store/axelson-tactical-dietz-special-purpose-rifle.html