Matthew G. Axelson

Specialty: Navy SEAL axelson purple heart navy cross
BUD/S Class:
SEAL Service:
5 years
Petty Officer 2nd Class
Cupertino, CA
SEAL Delivery Vehicle Team ONE, Pearl Harbor, Hawail
June 28, 2005 Operation: Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan)
Died while conducting counterterrorism operations in Kunar Province, Afghanistan. Coalition forces located the SEAL while conducting a combat search and rescue operation July 10, 2005.

Navy Cross – the Navy’s 2nd-highest award for valor.

On September 13, 2006, in a public ceremony at the Navy Memorial in Washington, D.C., SEAL teammates Matthew Axelson and Danny Dietz were posthumously awarded the Navy Cross. Navy Secretary Donald Winters honored their heroic acts of June 28, 2005:

Even after being wounded, both men “continued to fight the enemy with undiminished zeal, covering the extraction of the rest of their team while they stayed and fought. Putting the safety of their teammates ahead of their own, they displayed extraordinary heroism in combat.”

Winters concluded, “Extraordinary heroism has earned them the Navy Cross and a place of honor in the hearts of their countrymen.”

Other Awards:
Purple Heart

Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal

Good Conduct Medal

Axelson was part of a dedicated team fighting the Taliban, a fundamentalist regime that a U.S.-led coalition knocked from power in Afghanistan in 2001, but has continued to conduct guerilla operations, particularly along the Pakistan border. Axelson worked to help ensure al Qaeda terrorists could no longer train in, nor launch strikes from Afghanistan since their lethal attack on the World Trade Center in New York on September 11, 2001.

Matt Axelson deployed to Afghanistan in April 2005 and was part of a four-man SEAL reconnaissance team that secretly infiltrated into the Hindu-Kush mountains along the border with Afghanistan on June 27th. This unit, led by LT. Michael P. Murphy, was reportedly tracking a high- ranking terrorist leader near 10,000 foot peaks when they were ambushed by overwhelming Taliban forces.

Two helicopters of Navy SEALs and Army commandos answered Murphy’s electronic call for help. Eight SEALs and eight Army “Nightstalker” commandos in the lead helicopter perished after it was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade and crashed.

Three of the original four-man SEAL reconnaissance squad (Matt Axelson, Michael Murphy, and Danny Dietz) were killed in the firefight. A fourth squad member, unnamed as he stilloperating, survived. That SEAL was knocked down by a blast, and wounded in both legs. He walked several miles and was hidden and protected by an Afghani shepherd until U.S. commandos rescued him July 3, 2005.

Axelson’s remains were found during a combat search and rescue operation on July 10, 2005. He was awarded the Navy Cross – the service’s 2nd highest award – for his valor. Matt Axelson is remembered with the greatest respect and gratitude by his fellow SEALs, the Navy, and our nation.

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