Remembering the SEALs

Navy SEALs have been in the news a lot recently for their successful role in the assault on the Osama Bin Laden complex in Abbottabad, Pakistan earlier this month. The Navy SEALs (Sea, Air and Land Teams) have their origins in World War II as the first group specializing in amphibious raids and tactics. Since then, they've become the Navy’s principal special operations force, conducting clandestine missions behind enemy lines, collecting intelligence through reconnaissance missions and engaging in a variety of combat actions.

Since 2001 the Navy SEALs have been heavily utilized in the War on Terror. As we celebrate the success of Team 6 in carrying out Operation Neptune Spear, it's  fitting that we remember some of their fellow SEALs who lost their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan. Today we share some of the condolences and remembrances left in their Guest Books by friends and family.

Jacques FontanJacques J. Fontan

Chief Petty Officer Jacques J. Fontan, 36, of New Orleans, Louisiana, was killed on June 28, 2005 while conducting combat operations when the MH-47 helicopter he was aboard crashed in Kumar Province.

Maureen and I wanted to extend our deepest sympathies to the Fontan family on their loss. Chief Fontan's Team leader, Lt. McGreevy and Chief Fontan of SEAL Team 10, among others, were killed in the helicopter crash brought down by enemy fire while trying to come to the rescue of our son, Lt. Michael P. Murphy and his small SEAL team in the mountains of Kunar province, Afghanistan. We share your grief over the loss of a loved one and are forever grateful that Michael was surrounded by such great and loyal friends who were willing to lay down their lives for each other, GOD and country. These men true blue "Navy SEALs" will never be forgotten in our hearts, minds or prayers. We salute the sacrifice of Chief Jacques Fontan and his Teammates in SEAL Team 10 in their attempt to come to the aid of our Mike and his men. You are all true American heroes.

As Abraham Lincoln once wrote " in the solemn pride that must be yours, to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom." These are men who will live on in the memories of those who follow in the fight for freedom and justice. Know that you are in our hearts and prayers.

Daniel & Maureen Murphy
Patchogue, New York

Michael KochMichael Koch

Chief Petty Officer Michael E. Koch, 29, of State College, Pennsylvania, died on February 4, 2008 from wounds suffered from small arms fire during combat operations in Iraq.

I miss you, bud. I hate that we haven't seen each other in over 2 years because of our work schedules. Now that you are at Arlington, you are closer to me than you have been in a long time.

I always knew you would make it in the teams mentally, but I never thought your body would hold up. I am glad I was wrong. I miss you so much. I looked up to you so much and I was so proud when you said that I would have made it through BUD/S if I tried. You are the definition of the "quiet professional". Everytime I come to a point in my life when it gets tough, I think "what would Mikey do in this situation?". I don't know much of what happened to you in the end but I know you were doing what you love and doing it very well, and you were with your friends, teammates. Some of the best times in my life came when we served together. Nothing bothered you. The hardest time came when I had to leave my friend in a goddamn box in that field. There is so much more I have to say but it is too much to even think of right now. I love you, bud. I hope to see you one day soon.

Justin Plumer
La Plata, Maryland

Erik KristensenErik S. Kristensen

Lt. Cmdr Erik S. Kristensen, 33, of San Diego, California, was killed on June 28, 2005 while conducting combat operations when the MH-47 helicopter he was aboard crashed in Kumar Province.

To Froggie (Erik's Dad) and Sam (Erik's Mom) - This Memorial Day weekend, I am remembering Erik and his sacrifice as well as Froggie's service to our country and the ultimate sacrifice of Sam gave when she lost her only son. It is an honor to know your family and to thank all three of you. May God continue to hold you in His arms and keep you safe and comforted.

Pamela Newbill Davis
Annapolis, Maryland

Brendan Looney

Lt. Brendan Looney, 29, a native of Silver Spring, Maryland, was killed on September 21, 2010 when a Blackhawk helicopter crashed in southern Afghanistan. He was one of nine service members killed in the incident.

October 03, 2010

Yesterday was the funeral for PO2 Adam O. Smith, my cousin, who also died in the same helicopter crash that took the lives of Lt. Looney and seven others. These nine were truly exceptional men. As I research further it seems to me that it would be appropriate for a book to be written about these men. The outpouring of respect that was shown to Adam by the residents of the two small adjoining towns in which he was born and raised was incredible. They lined the streets of the procession from the church, town, and five miles of state highway to the cemetery. They waved large and small flags and held home- made signs of support. Approximately 300 Honor Guard riders led the way and made sure no protesters were heard. Missouri Govenor Nixon attended the family visitation. Highest ranking Naval officers plus apx. 25 Navy Seals were also present. There can be no doubt of the pride and patriotism our nation feels for all our men who serve to protect the USA. Our condolences to Brendan's family.

Brenda Houk
Sedalia, Missouri

Denis Miranda

Petty Officer 3rd class Denis Miranda, 24, of Toms River, New Jersey, was killed on September 21, 2010 when a Blackhawk helicopter crashed in southern Afghanistan. He was one of nine service members killed in the incident.

I had the great pleasure of serving with Denis in Patrol Squadron 8. He was always joking around, and you could never be sad around him. I have many great memories of Denis that used to be just memories from being in the Navy, but now I will cherish these memories forever. America lost a great soldier and friend, and I am chosing to celebrate Denis instead of grieving (as I am sure he would have wanted).

Jillian Preece,
Lusby, Maryland

Michael MonsoorMichael Monsoor

While manning a rooftop machine-gun post on September 29, 2006 in the insurgent-held territory of Ar Ramadi, Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael A. Monsoor, 25, of Garden Grove, California, threw himself atop a grenade to absorb the blast, sparing the lives of three others fighting alongside him.

I'm a brother in law of one of Mike's Seal teammates, not to mention, one of his teammates who's life he saved by sacfificing his own while serving our country. It's a tragedy that nobody will ever forget and we'll all learn from his heroism. I'll thank god everyday that Mike gave my brother in law a chance to continue living and support my sister and their baby, but grieve for the loss of a soldier that will truly be missed. My warmest condolences and prayers go out to his family and friends.

Will Nance
Houston, Texas

Michael MurphyMichael P. Murphy

Lt. Michael Murphy, 29, of Patchogue, New York, were killed when they came under hostile fire with Taliban insurgents in Kunar Province, Afghanistan on June 28th, 2005.

I remember days, nights, afterschool, growing up in the Murphy household. Aunt Maureen treated me like I was one of her own. The most fond memory I have of Michael is when my parents went on vacation and I stupidly locked my keys in my house. Michael offered to walk a ladder across Route 112 all the way to my house so I could climb to the second story and get in. Fortunately that was not necessary...but he was the first to offer the help. I have so many memories in that household that involve Michael. He was truly one of the kindest people I have ever met. Aunt Maureen, Uncle Danny, Cathy, John, Kelly, Colleen - my sincerest apologies and sympathies. Michael was truly the epitome of what a hero should be.

Lauren Polsky
Patchogue, New York

Collin Thomas

Chief Petty Officer Collin Thomas, 33, of Morehead, Kentucky, was killed on August 18, 2010 during a combat operation in eastern Afghanistan.

Clay and Jean, You are in my thoughts and prayers. You are parents to a truly superb young man and outstanding Navy SEAL. Deb, Heather, and Katelyn, my daughter, and I had dinner with Collin in what seems like only yesterday. I was impressed with Collin and how much he had grown since I'd known him as a youngster. My prayer is that the memories and experiences you shared with Collin will sustain you in your time of loss. You have my deepest sympathies.

Semper Fi,
John Admire