The Pentagon today released the names of the 30 U.S. service personnel killed Aug. 6 when a CH-47 Chinook helicopter was shot down in Afghanistan, including 17 Navy SEAL commandos from one of the military’s most elite counterterrorism units.
The Pentagon declined to publicly identify the SEAL unit -- the Naval Special Warfare Development Group, or Devgru, based in Dam Neck, Virginia. It is the same unit that carried out the lethal raid against Osama bin Laden in May.
After the Aug. 6 crash, U.S. officials confirmed without attribution that most of the SEALs who were killed were from that unit, adding that they were not among the SEALs who took part in the bin Laden raid. Today, the Pentagon described the SEALs who were killed in the crash as “assigned to an East Coast-based Naval Special Warfare unit.”
Marine Colonel Dave Lapan, a Pentagon spokesman, said the decision not to publish the unit’s name was a Navy call. “We publish what the services give us to publish. It’s their decision,” he said. A Navy spokesman, Commander Danny Hernandez, had no immediate comment on why the unit was not identified.
The Navy has used the name of the unit in previous service press releases, including one updated June 30 -- an official biography of a former Devgru commander, Rear Admiral Edward G. Winters III.
Winters, the biography said, took command of the unit in August 2003 and was deployed four additional times with a joint task force to Afghanistan.
The unit is also listed on the fact sheet that the service issued to commemorate the posthumous Medal of Honor awarded in 2007 to Navy Lieutenant Michael Murphy, a SEAL who was not a member of Devgru. The unit is listed as one of two “major component commands” of the Naval Special Warfare Command.
The Navy and the Pentagon on at least two occasions have listed the unit in releases that identified SEALs killed in action, including two on Sept. 13, 2008, and a Navy summary story published April 2.
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