On Thursday, President Trump awarded retired Navy Master Chief Special Warfare Operator Britt K. Slabinski with the Medal of Honor. The award was an upgrade of a Navy Cross he received for a very confused small unit action called, officially, the Battle of Takur Ghar that was fought in the mountains of Eastern Afghanistan on March 4-5, 2002. The engagement is better known as the Battle of Roberts Ridge.

Two SEAL elements were supposed to establish a observation post on the crest of Takur Ghar mountain. Through a series of events they ended up landing too late to make it to the designated OP before dawn…and they landed in the wrong place.They came under heavy fire as they were on short final to the landing zone, they tried to abort, and Petty Officer First Class Neil Roberts fell from the rear ramp of one of the MH-47 helicopters. The recon elements transitioned into combat elements as they landed to try to rescue Roberts. The teams found themselves in three-feet of snow, outnumbered, and out-gunned. This is where toxic masculinity comes in.

In the early morning of 4 March 2002, then-Senior Chief Slabinski led a reconnaissance team to its assigned area atop Takur Ghar, a 10,000-foot snow-covered mountain in Afghanistan. An enemy rocket-propelled grenade attack on the insertion helicopter caused Petty Officer Neil Roberts to fall onto the enemy-infested mountaintop below, and forced the damaged helicopter to crash land in the valley below. Fully aware of the risks, a numerically superior and well-entrenched enemy force, and approaching daylight, without hesitation Senior Chief Slabinski made the selfless and heroic decision to lead the remainder of his element on an immediate and daring rescue back to the mountaintop. Senior Chief Slabinski’s team, despite heavy incoming enemy fire, was subsequently successfully inserted on top of Takur Ghar. Senior Chief Slabinski, without regard for his own life, charged directly toward the enemy strongpoint. He and a teammate fearlessly assaulted and cleared one enemy bunker at close range. The enemy then unleashed a murderous hail of machine gun fire from a second hardened position twenty meters away. Senior Chief Slabinski exposed himself to enemy fire on three sides, then moved forward to silence the second position. With bullets piercing his clothing, he repeatedly charged into deadly fire to personally engage the enemy bunker with direct rifle fire, hand grenades and a grenade launcher on the surrounding enemy positions. Facing mounting casualties and low on ammunition, the situation became untenable. Senior Chief Slabinski skillfully maneuvered his team across open terrain, directing them out of effective enemy fire over the mountainside.

Senior Chief Slabinski maneuvered his team to a more defensible position, directed danger-close air support on the enemy, requested reinforcements, and directed the medical care of his rapidly deteriorating wounded teammates, all while continuing to defend his position. When approaching daylight and accurate enemy mortar fire forced the team to maneuver further down the sheer mountainside, Senior Chief Slabinski carried a seriously wounded teammate through waist-deep snow, and led an arduous trek across precipitous terrain while calling in fires on enemies engaging the team from the surrounding ridges. Throughout the next 14 hours, he stabilized the casualties and continued the fight against the enemy until the mountain top could be secured and his team was extracted. His dedication, disregard for his own personal safety and tactical leadership make Master Chief Slabinski unquestionably deserving of this honor.

It is estimated that about 400 al Qaeda fighters were involved in the fight. (Synopsis of the fight. Controversy about the battle.)

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