Patton, foundation ensure strong nation

I encourage everyone to attend the Shane Patton Foundation pub crawl this Saturday at The Dillinger Food and Drinkery, 1224 Arizona St., to perpetuate the legacy and to honor the memory of Navy SEAL Shane Patton.

While most Boulder City residents are aware of the ultimate sacrifice made by Patton and his shipmates, his story is worth repeating so future generations never forget.

The heroism of Patton and others is chronicled in Marcus Luttrell’s book “Lone Survivor” and other publications.

The Shane Patton Foundation, established by his family and friends, provides scholarships to Boulder City High School students.

The students vying for today’s scholarships were toddlers when Patton was killed in action. It is important that future generations understand and appreciate the sacrifices of those who paid the ultimate price so we may live in the greatest country on Earth.

Like his father before him, Patton chose the military path of greatest resistance and became a Navy SEAL. This is no easy task. Sailors must be in top physical condition to attend the 24-week physically demanding and highly specialized Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training. The training is unforgiving — seven out of 10 fail — but Patton, and other like-minded sailors, chose this path at a young age. Those who pass this phase move on to a three-week parachutist class and then a 26-week SEAL qualification training program. Follow-on training in various specialties is only interrupted by deployments to combat zones.

On June 28, 2005, Patton and seven other Navy SEALs answered a call for help from four SEAL brothers-in-arms who were engaged in a fierce firefight with a numerically superior enemy in the mountains of Afghanistan. Without hesitation, they geared up and then loaded aboard a Chinook helicopter. The Army aviators and crew were members of the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, the “Night Stalkers,” whose heroics are chronicled in the book and movie “Black Hawk Down.”

The four SEALs under attack, Lt. Michael Murphy, Petty Officer 2nd Class Matthew Axelson, Petty Officer 2nd Class Danny Dietz and Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Marcus Luttrell, were on a reconnaissance mission when they were inadvertently discovered by local goat herders. The goat herders were released because they were noncombatants. The SEALs fell back to another position knowing the enemy would quickly ascertain their location and attack.

As the Chinook approached the battle area and began to insert Patton and the other warriors, a rocket-propelled grenade struck the Chinook helicopter. All 18 aboard perished. The nation collectively wept upon hearing about this tragic event.

During this battle, Murphy was killed while exposing himself to enemy fire in order to radio for help. For this and other actions during this encounter, he posthumously received the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest award for combat valor.

Axelson and Dietz were also killed in action. Each posthumously received the Navy Cross, the nation’s second-highest award for heroism in combat.

Luttrell was seriously wounded but rescued by a local Pashtun, who nursed him back to health. Luttrell was eventually rescued by U.S. forces. He received the Navy Cross for his heroism and the Purple Heart for his wounds.

For his gallantry in action, Patton received the Bronze Star Medal with “V” device (for valor in combat), our nation’s fourth highest award for combat valor, the Purple Heart, and the Combat Action Ribbon.

I did not have the privilege of knowing Patton. But I do know that his life and his actions are the embodiment of what makes America a great and free nation.

Your generous contributions to the Shane Patton Foundation will ensure that future generations are endowed and educated on the sacrifices of our heroic warriors.

To paraphrase John Stuart Mill, “for those who have fought for it, life has a special flavor the sheltered and protected will never know.” Patton and his shipmates courageously fought and died for our way of life. As long as we have extraordinary young people like Patton, we will always have a free and strong America.

Dan Jennings is a retired Army captain and a retired BCPD lieutenant. He can be reached at bcpd267@cox.net.

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