Just three months after the nation lauded the anonymous Navy SEALs who killed Osama bin Laden, it is getting to know in poignant detail about their colleagues who died aboard a downed helicopter in Afghanistan.
They came to the special forces from far-flung corners of the country some of them motivated by the 9/11 attacks that bin Laden masterminded. They were intensely patriotic and talented young men with a love of physical challenges and a passion for the high-risk job they chose.
The SEALS were among 30 Americans and eight Afghans killed Saturday when a rocket-propelled grenade fired by a Taliban insurgent downed their Chinook helicopter en route to a combat mission. All but two of the SEALs were from SEAL Team 6, the unit that killed bin Laden, although military officials said none of the crash victims was on that mission in Pakistan against the al-Qaida leader.
Here are the stories of some of the fallen:
• A severe arm injury during fighting in Fallujah in 2004 didnt keep Matthew Mason off the Iraq War battlefield. Nor did it dull the competitive fire of the avid runner and former high school athlete from outside Kansas City. Within five months of losing part of his left arm, absorbing shrapnel and suffering a collapsed lung, Mason competed in a triathlon. He soon returned to his SEAL unit.