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Navy SEAL PO2 Matthew G. Axelson

Navy SEAL PO2 Matthew G. Axelson

KIA June 28, 2005
Operation Enduring Freedom

Assigned to SEAL Delivery Vehicle Team ONE, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii

Navy SEAL PO2 Matthew Axelson died June 28, 2005 when his SEAL reconnaissance team was ambushed by overwhelming Taliban forces in Kunar Province, Afghanistan. Three of the original four-man SEAL squad, PO2 Matthew Axelson, PO2 Danny Dietz, and LT Michael Murphy, were all killed in the firefight. A fourth squad member, HM1 Marcus Luttrell, was the only living survivor. The full description of this action is described in the book, Lone Survivor, written by HM1 Luttrell and later depicted in the 2013 film of the same name.

Matthew Axelson deployed to Afghanistan in April 2005 as part of a four-man SEAL reconnaissance team to support Naval Special Warfare’s fight in the Global War on Terror. The team secretly infiltrated into the Hindu-Kush mountain range in late June 2005. Led by LT Michael Murphy, the unit was reportedly tracking a high-ranking terrorist leader located near 10,000-foot peaks when they were ambushed by Taliban forces that overwhelmingly outnumbered them. During the firefight, PO2 Axelson was mortally wounded but continued to fight alongside HM1 Luttrell until a blast from an RPG separated the two soldiers. Along with injuries sustained from the blast, PO2 Axelson died of bullet wounds to the chest and head.

PO2 Matthew Axelson’s remains were found during a combat search and rescue operation on July 10, 2005. When Navy personnel arrived to retrieve his body for burial, they found that it was located a few hundred yards away from the RPG blast location. According to HM1 Luttrell, PO2 Axelson had three magazines remaining when the blast took place. However, when his body was found, he had only one magazine remaining, indicating that PO2 Axelson continued to fight even after the blast. During the firefight, a Quick Reaction Force immediately mobilized in a daring daytime mission to reinforce the SEAL squad. Eight Navy SEALs and eight Army Night Stalker commandos perished when their MH-47 helicopter was struck by enemy RPG fire and subsequently crashed. June 28, 2005 was the deadliest attack against the U.S. in Afghanistan and the largest loss of life to date for the Navy SEALs.

For their heroic actions, PO2 Matthew Axelson and PO2 Danny Dietz were posthumously awarded the second highest citation for valor, the Navy Cross, and LT Michael Murphy was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.

PO2 Matthew G. Axelson was 29 years old from Cupertino, California

Original portrait was presented May 21, 2011 to his parents during a special event hosted by America Supports You-Texas in Amarillo, Texas

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