CLAIM

Social media post requests prayers for the families of 30 U.S. military personnel killed when their helicopter was shot down in Afghanistan.

OUTDATED

RATING

OUTDATED

ORIGIN

In the latter part of 2017, a request for prayers for the families of 30 Navy SEALs who died when their helicopter was shot down in Afghanistan was still commonly being circulated via social media:

I ask everyone to say a prayer for the United States Navy Seal Team and their families. Their helicopter was shot down yesterday in Afghanistan and they lost 30 members of the team. It would be nice to see this on everyone’s page … even if it’s only for an hour. You will have to copy and paste by holding your finger on the post till it turns grey, then touch the copy and then post on your page. Come on people — Show your support for our brave military! God bless them and their families.

Although this request is “true” in the sense that the tragic event it describes did occur, its continued inclusion of the word “yesterday” is nonetheless misleading — it references a U.S. Chinook helicopter that was shot down in eastern Afghanistan back in August of 2011, some three months after Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was killed by US Special Forces during an early morning raid in Abbottabad, Pakistan:

In the deadliest day for American forces in the nearly decade-long war in Afghanistan, insurgents shot down a Chinook transport helicopter, killing 30 Americans, including some Navy Seal commandos from the unit that killed Osama bin Laden, as well as 8 Afghans, American and Afghan officials said.

The Americans’ CH-47 Chinook helicopter was shot down in Wardak province in eastern Afghanistan, apparently by a Taliban-fired rocket-propelled grenade. The helicopter had been part of a mission targeting a Taliban leader.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, and they could hardly have found a more valuable target: American officials said that 22 of the dead were Navy Seal commandos, including members of Seal Team 6. Other commandos from that team conducted the raid in Abbottabad, Pakistan, that killed Bin Laden in May [2011]. The officials said that those who were killed were not involved in the Pakistan mission.

Those killed in the crash include 22 sailors — 17 of them Navy SEALs — assigned to East Coast and West Coat-based Naval Special Warfare units. Two soldiers assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 135th Aviation Regiment, three soldiers assigned to the 7th Battalion, 158th Aviation Regiment and three airmen assigned to 24th Special Tactics Squadron of Pope Field, N.C., also died.

US forces later killed the insurgents responsible for the crash in an F-16 air strike.

The Department of Defense released the names of the personnel who were killed in that incident (not all of whom were Navy SEALs):

Lt. Cmdr. (SEAL) Jonas B. Kelsall, 32, of Shreveport, La.,

Special Warfare Operator Master Chief Petty Officer (SEAL) Louis J. Langlais, 44, of Santa Barbara, Calif.,

Special Warfare Operator Senior Chief Petty Officer (SEAL) Thomas A. Ratzlaff, 34, of Green Forest, Ark.,

Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician Senior Chief Petty Officer (Expeditionary Warfare Specialist/Freefall Parachutist) Kraig M. Vickers 36, of Kokomo, Hawaii,

Special Warfare Operator Chief Petty Officer (SEAL) Brian R. Bill, 31, of Stamford, Conn.,

Special Warfare Operator Chief Petty Officer (SEAL) John W. Faas, 31, of Minneapolis, Minn.,

Special Warfare Operator Chief Petty Officer (SEAL) Kevin A. Houston, 35, of West Hyannisport, Mass.,

Special Warfare Operator Chief Petty Officer (SEAL) Matthew D. Mason, 37, of Kansas City, Mo.,

Special Warfare Operator Chief Petty Officer (SEAL) Stephen M. Mills, 35, of Fort Worth, Texas,

Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician Chief Petty Officer (Expeditionary Warfare Specialist/Freefall Parachutist/Diver) Nicholas H. Null, 30, of Washington, W.Va.,

Special Warfare Operator Chief Petty Officer (SEAL) Robert J. Reeves, 32, of Shreveport, La.,

Special Warfare Operator Chief Petty Officer (SEAL) Heath M. Robinson, 34, of Detroit, Mich.,

Special Warfare Operator Petty Officer 1st Class (SEAL) Darrik C. Benson, 28, of Angwin, Calif.,

Special Warfare Operator Petty Officer 1st Class (SEAL/Parachutist) Christopher G. Campbell, 36, of Jacksonville, N.C.,

Information Systems Technician Petty Officer 1st Class (Expeditionary Warfare Specialist/Freefall Parachutist) Jared W. Day, 28, of Taylorsville, Utah,

Master-at-Arms Petty Officer 1st Class (Expeditionary Warfare Specialist) John Douangdara, 26, of South Sioux City, Neb.,

Cryptologist Technician (Collection) Petty Officer 1st Class (Expeditionary Warfare Specialist) Michael J. Strange, 25, of Philadelphia, Pa.,

Special Warfare Operator Petty Officer 1st Class (SEAL/Enlisted Surface Warfare Specialist) Jon T. Tumilson, 35, of Rockford, Iowa,

Special Warfare Operator Petty Officer 1st Class (SEAL) Aaron C. Vaughn, 30, of Stuart, Fla., and

Special Warfare Operator Petty Officer 1st Class (SEAL) Jason R. Workman, 32, of Blanding, Utah.

Special Warfare Operator Petty Officer 1st Class (SEAL) Jesse D. Pittman, 27, of Ukiah, Calif., and

Special Warfare Operator Petty Officer 2nd Class (SEAL) Nicholas P. Spehar, 24, of Saint Paul, Minn.

Chief Warrant Officer David R. Carter, 47, of Centennial, Colo. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 135th Aviation Regiment (General Support Aviation Battalion), Aurora, Colo.;

Chief Warrant Officer Bryan J. Nichols, 31, of Hays, Kan. He was assigned to the 7th Battalion, 158th Aviation Regiment (General Support Aviation Battalion), New Century, Kan.;

Sgt. Patrick D. Hamburger, 30, of Lincoln, Neb. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 135th Aviation Regiment (General Support Aviation Battalion), Grand Island, Neb.;

Sgt. Alexander J. Bennett, 24, of Tacoma, Wash. He was assigned to the 7th Battalion, 158th Aviation Regiment (General Support Aviation Battalion), New Century, Kan.; and

Spc. Spencer C. Duncan, 21, of Olathe, Kan. He was assigned to the 7th Battalion, 158th Aviation Regiment (General Support Aviation Battalion), New Century, Kan.

Tech. Sgt. John W. Brown, 33, of Tallahassee, Fla.;

Staff Sgt. Andrew W. Harvell, 26, of Long Beach, Calif.;

Tech. Sgt. Daniel L. Zerbe, 28, of York, Pa.

Sources:

New York Post.   “Pentagon Releases Names of 30 Americans Killed in Afghanistan Helicopter Crash.”
    11 August 2011.

Rivera, Ray et al.   “Copter Downed by Taliban Fire; Elite U.S. Unit Among Dead.”
    The New York Times.   6 August 2011.