MOHR Navy Master Chief Britt Slabinski
by Katie Lange, DoD News
May 10, 2023
March 4, 2002, was a deadly day for
American troops on a mountaintop mission in Afghanistan. Several men
lost their lives, but two earned the nation’s highest honor for
their bravery and leadership. One of them was Navy Master Chief
Petty Officer Britt Slabinski, a SEAL.
Medal of Honor recipient retired Navy Master Chief Petty Officer Britt Slabinski takes part in his induction ceremony into the Hall of Heroes at the Pentagon Auditorium on May 25, 2018. Slabinski received the Medal of Honor from President Donald J. Trump for his heroic actions in March 2002 during the Battle of Takur Ghar while serving in Afghanistan. Photo by Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Paul L. Archer)
Slabinski grew up in
Northampton, Massachusetts, and was a high achiever from the start,
becoming an Eagle Scout at 14. He immediately joined the Navy after
graduating high school in 1988 and wanted to become a SEAL —
something he made a reality two years later. During his 25 years in
the Navy, Slabinski deployed 24 times — 15 of which were combat
assignments for operations supporting the war on terror.
the early morning of March 4, 2002, Slabinski found himself on one
of those deployments in Afghanistan. The then-senior chief was
leading a reconnaissance team onto the top of Takur Ghar, a
10,000-foot snowy mountain, to set up a post where they could report
on the movement of al-Qaida terrorists. But as their insertion
helicopter went to land, it was hit by an enemy rocket-propelled
grenade. Slabinski’s SEAL teammate, Petty Officer 1st Class Neil
Roberts, fell out onto the enemy-infested mountaintop shortly before
the chopper crashed in the valley below.
Slabinski boarded another helicopter and led his remaining teammates
back up the mountain to save Roberts, despite the overwhelming
number of enemy fighters entrenched at the top.
heavy snow and machine gun fire, the second chopper was able to land
safely. Slabinski and Air Force Tech Sgt. John Chapman immediately
charged an enemy bunker, killing the insurgents inside and taking it
The gunfire continued from a second location
60 feet away. Slabinski and Chapman took aim at that bunker,
charging back into a hail of gunfire to attack it and other enemy
positions. But more of their teammates were getting wounded, and
they were running low on ammunition, so they needed to look for
Slabinski led the team to a more defensible
position, where he radioed in for reinforcements and close-air
support while helping his wounded teammates.
started getting hit with fire again, so they were forced to move
further down the mountainside. Slabinski led the survivors across
rough terrain, carrying one of his seriously wounded teammates
through waist-deep snow. He continued to call in for support as the
enemy kept firing on them.
Navy Senior Chief Petty Officer Britt Slabinski holds a disarmed munition at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, in 2002. Slabinski received the Medal of Honor
on May 24, 2018, for his heroic actions during the Battle of Takur Ghar in March 2002 while serving in Afghanistan. The Medal of Honor is an upgrade of the Navy Cross he was previously awarded for these actions.
(U.S. Navy photo By Damon Moritz)
It took 14 hours for the team to
be extracted. While they waited, Slabinski continued to fight and
helped stabilize the injured men on his team. His dedication,
bravery and tactical leadership through this arduous assault made
him worthy of the nation’s highest award for valor.
took 16 years for him to get it. He was initially awarded the Navy
Cross for his actions before it was upgraded to the Medal of Honor.
In a ceremony at the
White House on May 24, 2018, President Donald J. Trump put the medal
around Slabinski’s neck. The former SEAL was quick to give credit to
the men who lost their lives: Roberts, who fell out of the
helicopter; Chapman, who joined Slabinski on that last push up the
mountain; as well as Air Force Senior Airman Jason Cunningham, Army
Cpl. Matthew Commons, Army Sgt. Bradley Crose, Army Spc. Marc
Anderson and Army Sgt. Philip Svitak.
“This Medal of Honor
belongs to the seven Americans killed in action on that mountain
top: Neil, John, Phil, Marc, Matt, Brad and Jason,” Slabinski said
during the White House ceremony. “They gave all, for all of us. This
honor is yours, for you are the true heroes.”
Chapman’s Air Force Cross was posthumously upgraded to the Medal of
Honor for his role in their defense at Takur Ghar.
continued his Navy career for many more years, retiring in 2014. He
now works for himself and raises his son, who followed his footsteps
to become an Eagle Scout.
Master Chief Britt Slabinski's Medal of Honor Citation |
Britt Slabinski's Medal of Honor
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