On May 24, President Donald Trump will award retired Navy Master Chief Britt K. Slabinski, a veteran of SEAL Team Six, the Medal of Honor for his actions on March 4, 2002, while leading a Joint Task Force during Operation Anaconda in Afghanistan, the White House announced Monday.

  • According to the statement Slabinski “repeatedly exposed himself to enemy fire as he engaged in a pitched, close-quarters firefight against the tenacious and more heavily armed enemy forces. Proximity made air support impossible, and after several teammates became casualties, the situation became untenable.”
  • As part of Operation Anaconda, a joint team of special operations forces was tasked with establishing an observation post atop the 10,000-foot Takur Ghar mountain in order to provide fire support for conventional troops to move on a large Al-Qaeda force in the valley below. But enemy rocket-propelled grenade and small arms fire riddled the team’s helicopter as it approached their insertion point, throwing Navy SEAL Petty Officer 1st Class Neil Roberts from the back of the aircraft just before the helo crash landed.
  • Slabinski “rallied his remaining team and organized supporting assets for a daring assault back to the mountain peak in an attempt to rescue their stranded teammate,” according to the statement. “Later, after a second enemy-opposed insertion, then-Senior Chief Slabinski led his six-man joint team up a snow-covered hill, in a frontal assault against two bunkers under withering enemy fire from three directions.”
  • “Carrying a seriously wounded teammate down a sheer cliff face, he led an arduous trek across one kilometer of precipitous terrain, through waist-deep snow while continuing to call fire on the enemy who was engaging the team from the surrounding ridges,” the statement continues. “During the subsequent 14 hours, he stabilized casualties on his team and continued the fight against the enemy until the mountaintop was secured by the quick reaction force and his team was extracted.”

The announcement that Slabinski will receive the Medal of Honor comes just weeks after Task & Purpose reported that Air Force Technical Sgt. John Chapman, who was on the mountaintop with Slabinski and was killed in the same battle, would become the first airman since Vietnam to receive the nation’s highest award for valor.

While T&P reported that Chapman was shot and critically wounded during the assault, a recent Newsweek report suggests, unable to locate Roberts and believing Chapman was dead, Slabinski effectively left Chapman behind when he pulled the remainder of his team to a more defensible position.

Read the White House statement below:

May 7, 2018

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President Donald J. Trump to Award the Medal of Honor

On Thursday, May 24, 2018, President Donald J. Trump will award the Medal of Honor to Master Chief Special Warfare Operator (Sea, Air, and Land) Britt K. Slabinski, U.S. Navy, Retired, for conspicuous gallantry.

As a Team Leader assigned to a Joint Task Force, in the early morning hours of 4 March 2002, then-Senior Chief Slabinski led a reconnaissance team to its assigned observation area on a snow-covered, 10,000-foot mountaintop in support of a major coalition offensive against Al-Qaida forces in the valley below. Rocket-propelled grenades and small arms fired from enemy fighters hidden and entrenched in the tree lines and rocks riddled the team’s insertion helicopter. One teammate was ejected from the aircraft, and the crippled helicopter crash-landed on the valley floor below. Then-Senior Chief Slabinski boldly rallied his remaining team and organized supporting assets for a daring assault back to the mountain peak in an attempt to rescue their stranded teammate. Later, after a second enemy-opposed insertion, then-Senior Chief Slabinski led his six-man joint team up a snow-covered hill, in a frontal assault against two bunkers under withering enemy fire from three directions. He repeatedly exposed himself to enemy fire as he engaged in a pitched, close-quarters firefight against the tenacious and more heavily armed enemy forces. Proximity made air support impossible, and after several teammates became casualties, the situation became untenable.

Senior Chief Slabinski maneuvered his team to a more defensible position, directed air strikes in very close proximity to his team’s position, and requested reinforcements. As daylight approached, the accurate enemy mortar fire forced the team further down the sheer mountainside. Carrying a seriously wounded teammate down a sheer cliff face, he led an arduous trek across one kilometer of precipitous terrain, through waist-deep snow while continuing to call fire on the enemy who was engaging the team from the surrounding ridges. During the subsequent 14 hours, he stabilized casualties on his team and continued the fight against the enemy until the mountaintop was secured by the quick reaction force and his team was extracted.

Then-Senior Chief Slabinski enlisted in the U.S. Navy and attended boot camp in Orlando, Florida, in 1988. Upon completion, he received orders to attend Radioman Class “A” School in San Diego, California. Fulfilling a life-long dream to be a U.S. Navy SEAL, he qualified and graduated in January 1990 with Basic Underwater Demolition / SEAL Class 164. Slabinski retired after serving as Director of Naval Special Warfare (NSW) Safety Assurance and Analysis Program. He completed 9 overseas deployments and 15 combat deployments in support of the Global War on Terrorism, including Operations ENDURING FREEDOM and IRAQI FREEDOM. Slabinski has various military and civilian qualifications including NSW Scout Sniper, Military Free Fall Parachute Jump Master, and Emergency Medical Technician/Paramedic National Certification. He is a graduate of the U.S. Navy Senior Enlisted Academy and Command Leadership School.

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