The U.S. suffered its deadliest single-incident loss of life in all of Operation Enduring Freedom – Afghanistan when a U.S. CH-47D Chinook helicopter, call-signed “Extortion 17,” was shot down on Aug. 6, 2011.
All 38 passengers aboard Extortion 17, including 30 U.S. military personnel, eight Afghans and a U.S. military working dog, were killed after the transport helicopter was struck by a rocket-propelled grenade. Extortion 17 was attached to a mission to capture or kill a senior Taliban leader, Qari Tahir, near Kabul, Afghanistan.
Among the American passengers, 17 were U.S. Navy SEALs, including 15 Special Warfare Development Group, also known as SEAL Team 6 or DEVGRU. Just three months before the crash, SEAL Team 6 had risen to prominence for its involvement in the raid to take out Al Qaeda terrorist leader Osama Bin Laden.
Other Americans aboard Extortion 17 included Navy Special Warfare support personnel, U.S. Air Force and U.S. Army aircrew members. The Afghans aboard the helicopter included seven Afghan National Army commandos and an Afghan interpreter.
The complete list of Americans killed includes:
- SGT ALEXANDER J. BENNETT
- SPC SPENCER DUNCAN
- CWO BRYAN J. NICHOLS
- CWO DAVID R. CARTER
- SSG PATRICK D. HAMBURGER
- TSGT JOHN W. BROWN
- SSGT ANDREW W. HARVELL
- TSGT DANIEL L. ZERBE
- PO1 (SEAL) DARRICK C. BENSON
- CPO (SEAL) BRIAN R. BILL
- PO1 (SEAL) CHRISTOPHER G. CAMPBELL
- PO1 JARED W. DAY
- PO1 JOHN DOUANGDARA
- CPO (SEAL) JOHN W. FAAS
- CPO (SEAL) KEVIN A. HOUSTON
- LT. CMDR. (SEAL) JONAS B. KELSALL
- MCPO (SEAL) LOUIS J. LANGLAIS
- CPO (SEAL) MATTHEW D. MASON
- CPO (SEAL) STEPHEN M. MILLS
- CPO NICHOLAS H. NULL
- PO1 (SEAL) JESSE D. PITTMAN
- SCPO (SEAL) THOMAS A. RATZLAFF
- CPO (SEAL) ROBERT J. REEVES
- CPO (SEAL) HEATH M. ROBINSON
- PO2 (SEAL) NICHOLAS P. SPEHAR
- PO1 MICHAEL J. STRANGE
- PO1 (SEAL) JON T. TUMILSON
- PO1 (SEAL) AARON C. VAUGHN
- SCPO KRAIG M. VICKERS
- PO1 (SEAL) JASON R. WORKMAN
- MILITARY WORKING DOG “BART”
Prior to the downing of Extortion 17, the previous single deadliest incident involving Americans deployed to Afghanistan was during Operation Red Wings on June 28, 2005, when 11 Navy SEALS and eight Army Night Stalkers were killed.
Team Never Quit, a podcast started by Navy SEAL and Operation Red Wings survivor Marcus Luttrell paid tribute to those killed in the Extortion 17 incident.
“Never forget the warriors of Extortion 17. We will forever honor, remember, and carry them with us until we meet again,” Team Never Quit said in a tweet.