U.S. Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)
IMMEDIATE RELEASE No. 705-11
August 11, 2011
DOD Identifies Service Members Killed In CH-47 Crash
The Department of Defense announced today the deaths of 30 servicemembers who were supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. They died August 6, 2011 in Wardak province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when their CH-47 Chinook helicopter crashed.
The following sailors assigned to an East Coast-based Naval Special Warfare unit were killed:
Lieutenant Commander (SEAL) Jonas B. Kelsall, 32, of Shreveport, Louisiana
- Special Warfare Operator Master Chief Petty Officer (SEAL) Louis J. Langlais, 44, of Santa Barbara, California
- Special Warfare Operator Senior Chief Petty Officer (SEAL) Thomas A. Ratzlaff, 34, of Green Forest, Arkansas
- Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician Senior Chief Petty Officer (Expeditionary Warfare Specialist/Freefall Parachutist) Kraig M. Vickers 36, of Kokomo, Hawaii,
- Special Warfare Operator Chief Petty Officer (SEAL) Brian R. Bill, 31, of Stamford, Connecticut
- Special Warfare Operator Chief Petty Officer (SEAL) John W. Faas, 31, of Minneapolis, Minnesota
- Special Warfare Operator Chief Petty Officer (SEAL) Kevin A. Houston, 35, of West Hyannisport, Massachusetts
- Special Warfare Operator Chief Petty Officer (SEAL) Matthew D. Mason, 37, of Kansas City, Missouri
- Special Warfare Operator Chief Petty Officer (SEAL) Stephen M. Mills, 35, of Fort Worth, Texas,
- Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician Chief Petty Officer (Expeditionary Warfare Specialist/Freefall Parachutist/Diver) Nicholas H. Null, 30, of Washington, West Virginia
- Special Warfare Operator Chief Petty Officer (SEAL) Robert J. Reeves, 32, of Shreveport, Louisiana
- Special Warfare Operator Chief Petty Officer (SEAL) Heath M. Robinson, 34, of Detroit, Michigan
- Special Warfare Operator Petty Officer 1st Class (SEAL) Darrik C. Benson, 28, of Angwin, California
- Special Warfare Operator Petty Officer 1st Class (SEAL/Parachutist) Christopher G. Campbell, 36, of Jacksonville, North Carolina
- Information Systems Technician Petty Officer 1st Class (Expeditionary Warfare Specialist/Freefall Parachutist) Jared W. Day, 28, of Taylorsville, Utah,
- Master-at-Arms Petty Officer 1st Class (Expeditionary Warfare Specialist) John Douangdara, 26, of South Sioux City, Nebraska
- Cryptologist Technician (Collection) Petty Officer 1st Class (Expeditionary Warfare Specialist) Michael J. Strange, 25, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
- Special Warfare Operator Petty Officer 1st Class (SEAL/Enlisted Surface Warfare Specialist) Jon T. Tumilson, 35, of Rockford, Iowa,
- Special Warfare Operator Petty Officer 1st Class (SEAL) Aaron C. Vaughn, 30, of Stuart, Florida, and
- Special Warfare Operator Petty Officer 1st Class (SEAL) Jason R. Workman, 32, of Blanding, Utah.
The following sailors assigned to a West Coast-based Naval Special Warfare unit were killed:
- Special Warfare Operator Petty Officer 1st Class (SEAL) Jesse D. Pittman, 27, of Ukiah, California, and
- Special Warfare Operator Petty Officer 2nd Class (SEAL) Nicholas P. Spehar, 24, of Saint Paul, Minnesota
The soldiers killed were:
- Chief Warrant Officer David R. Carter, 47, of Centennial, Colo. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 135th Aviation Regiment (General Support Aviation Battalion), Aurora, Colorado
- Chief Warrant Officer Bryan J. Nichols, 31, of Hays, Kan. He was assigned to the 7th Battalion, 158th Aviation Regiment (General Support Aviation Battalion), New Century, Kansas
- Staff Sgt. Patrick D. Hamburger, 30, of Lincoln, Neb. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 135th Aviation Regiment (General Support Aviation Battalion), Grand Island, Nebraska
- Sgt. Alexander J. Bennett, 24, of Tacoma, Wash. He was assigned to the 7th Battalion, 158th Aviation Regiment (General Support Aviation Battalion), New Century, Kansas; and
- Spc. Spencer C. Duncan, 21, of Olathe, Kan. He was assigned to the 7th Battalion, 158th Aviation Regiment (General Support Aviation Battalion), New Century, Kansas
The airmen killed were:
- Tech. Sgt. John W. Brown, 33, of Tallahassee, Florida
- Staff Sgt. Andrew W. Harvell, 26, of Long Beach, California; and
- Tech. Sgt. Daniel L. Zerbe, 28, of York, Pennsylvania
All three airmen were assigned to the 24th Special Tactics Squadron, Pope Field, North Carolina
UPDATE: August 12, 2011 — Sergeant Hamburger was posthumously promoted to Staff Sergeant.
BOSTON — A Navy SEAL from Cape Cod is among the 30 Americans who died Saturday when insurgents shot down their helicopter after a battle in Afghanistan.
“Jocked up” U.S. Navy SEAL Kevin Houston on deployment.
Thirty-six-year-old Kevin Houston was among the 22 members from the elite U.S. Navy SEAL Team Six on board. It’s the same special operations unit that killed Osama bin Laden, though U.S. officials say Houston and those killed on Saturday didn’t take part in that operation.
Some of Houston’s classmates gathered Sunday to remember their friend.
In the living room of his house in Osterville, Joe Kennedy shakes his head, remembering the very first thing Houston told him when he met him back in the fifth grade: “My name is Kevin, and I’m gonna be a Navy SEAL.”
A Navy SEAL, Joe didn’t even know what that was. But he was impressed with the confidence of this mixed-race kid raised by a single mom.
“To know your place that early in life and relentlessly pursue it and do it is a rare thing,” said Kevin MacConnell, another friend from elementary school. He learned how driven Houston was one summer day when they were playing basketball out on the driveway.
“There was this one day it was just me and Kev. I told him he couldn’t dunk the basketball and I bet him a steak and cheese sub at the local sub shop down the street, called Buffy’s. And he’s like, ‘Like hell I can’t.’ And I knew he couldn’t, because I seen him try before. So I was just thinking I was getting a free sub, you know,” he said.
That was late afternoon. Houston took the ball and kept trying to dunk over and over, all through dinner and TV. Finally MacConnell’s dad went out to say he needed to get some sleep. The next day, though, Kevin was back.
“And he finally dunked the basketball. I looked at it like: that night. But he said, ‘You just said I couldn’t dunk, not that it had to be that night,’ so it was like a technicality! Nobody got the sub,” MacConnell said. “Maybe I should’ve gave the sub. But he didn’t do it that night!”
An athlete who trained harder than anyone, Kevin played high school basketball. He was captain of the football team. Kennedy was co-captain with him. But above all, Kennedy remembers how outgoing Houston was.
“Preppies, jocks, all of it. Kevin got along with everybody, absolutely everybody,” Kennedy said.
Kevin also loved fast motorcycles and got in a terrible crash his senior year. In a wheelchair at graduation, he stood up out of it to walk across the stage to accept his diploma.
After recovering from the crash, Kevin join the demanding life of Navy service, eventually making it to be a SEAL. He married, had kids. Still, each summer he‘d come back to visit his friends on the Cape.
It was in early May this year, when friend Jarrod Paquette got a call from Kevin, with some incredible news.
“Hey Boss! We got him,” Kevin said.
“The big dog. Done-ski.”
Osama bin Laden. Not Kevin, but other members of his secretive Navy SEAL Team Six.
Paquette said the call was unusual, because even with close friends, Kevin played down his service on the covert operations team. It might be why Kevin loved the YouTube parody, in which an actor plays a Navy SEAL bragging at a bar.
“I think he just loved that — maybe deep down, they would love to be able to do [that]. You know, to be able to let loose and scream out loud and have it be known,” Paquette said.
While his friends were enjoying another sandy summer on the Cape, Kevin died in a faraway region of arid shale and pitched mountainsides. Paquette said it gives him comfort knowing that Kevin died doing what he always wanted to do.
“He would often say, ‘I’m at the tip of the spear. I’m right where I wanna be,’” Paquette said.
Houston will be laid to rest later this week
BOSTON — A Barnstable native was among 22 Navy SEALS killed Saturday when a U.S. military helicopter crashed in eastern Afghanistan.
Kevin Houston, 36, of Chesapeake, Virginia, was in the CH-47 Chinook when it crashed in Wardak province.
Thirty Americans in all were killed, many of them belonging to the SEAL Team Six unit, members of the same special operations team that killed Osama bin Laden.
Houston, 36, was a 1994 graduate of Barnstable High School and it was always his dream to be a Navy SEAL.
Jasen O’Neil, a childhood friend, remembered Houston's journey from local high school football and basketball captain to a decorated member of the country’s most elite military unit.
“When he was in fifth grade he said he wanted to be a Navy SEAL,” recalled O’Neil. “I didn’t know what a Navy SEAL was in fifth grade but he did.”
O’Neil said he always remembered his friend as an athlete, someone who pushed himself to his own limits, even during a casual swim with his friend.
“We were swimming in the water and he happened to be out 200-300 yards from the shore, so I think that must have been part of his SEAL training that would allow him to do that,” said O’Neil.
Houston joined the Navy in 1995 and completed three tours in Afghanistan.
Raised by a single mother, Houston looked to Chris Kelly, of Osterville, as surrogate dad, a father figure.
A veteran himself, Kelly told News Center 5 that Houston loved to flip through Kelly's Vietnam photo album and ask questions about Kelly's military service.
“He was just a courageous kid. Fought through some adversity as a kid and truly came out as a hero,” O'Neil said.
Kelly said Houston would wear an American flag between his chest and body plate during his service. This past June, however, on a trip home, Houston gave the flag to his surrogate dad. It was Saturday when he was killed in action.
The Taliban has claimed responsibility for bringing down the helicopter.
U.S. officials said it was the deadliest single loss for American forces in the decade-old war.
“It was shocking and disturbing,” said O’Neil. “I just always thought that Kevin was such a scrapper that no matter what situation he got in — he would be able to get out. This wasn’t his fault and this is just a terribly sad day.”
Houston leaves behind his wife and their three children, who all live in Virginia.
HOUSTON, KEVIN R
SOC US NAVY
- DATE OF BIRTH: 09/20/1975
- DATE OF DEATH: 08/06/2011
- BURIED AT: SECTION 60 SITE 9931
ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY
Michael Robert Patterson was born in Arlington and is the son of a former officer of the US Army. So it was no wonder that sooner or later his interests drew him to American history and especially to American military history. Many of his articles can be found on renowned portals like the New York Times, Washingtonpost or Wikipedia.
Reviewed by: Michael Howard