Families remember
devotion of SEALs

The isle-based soldiers
were committed to the
cause, friends say


Thursday, July 7, 2005

» Claudia Suh Bown is the sister of Petty Officer 2nd Class James Suh, 28, of Deerfield Beach, Fla., a Pearl Harbor Navy SEAL who was killed in Afghanistan on June 28. A Page A1 article Tuesday incorrectly listed her last name as Brown.

The Honolulu Star-Bulletin strives to make its news report fair and accurate. If you have a question or comment about news coverage, call Editor Frank Bridgewater at 529-4791 or email him at corrections@starbulletin.com.

A small-town boy from Nevada, Eric Shane Patton, 22, looked up to his father, James, who had served as a Navy SEAL, a member of an elite special operations unit.


Daniel Healy: His mother says he believed he was doing the right thing in the terror war

Three years ago, Petty Officer 2nd Class Patton enthusiastically took on the rigorous training to become a SEAL, said friends. He was the only one of his three brothers to follow his father. Stationed at Pearl Harbor, Patton shipped out for Afghanistan in April.

Yesterday, Brandon Tretton remembered Patton, his best friend since ninth or 10th grade: "He wanted to be a SEAL, and he wanted to be the best. His father was a SEAL, and he figured if he joined the armed forces, he would go all the way and be the best."

Patton, of Boulder City, Nev., was one of three Hawaii-based Navy SEALs among 16 troops who were killed during combat operations last Tuesday when their MH-47 helicopter crashed under enemy fire in the area of Asadabad, Afghanistan, in Kunar province. The military said the crash was the deadliest single blow to American forces in Afghanistan since the Taliban were ousted in 2001.


James Suh: His sister describes how he was a protector of the family and his country

The other two Hawaii-based SEALs were Petty Officer 2nd Class James Suh, 28, of Deerfield Beach, Fla., and Senior Chief Petty Officer Daniel R. Healy, 36, of Exeter, N.H., a 13-year veteran of the SEALs and the father of four children, two of whom live in Hawaii.

Yesterday, as Boulder City, Nev., held its annual Fourth of July celebrations, a contingent of Navy SEALs marching in the town parade saluted as they passed by the home of Patton's parents, according to the Tretton family.

Patton's best friend's father, Dennis Tretton, said, "Shane wanted to follow in his father's footsteps. We saw him right before he shipped out, and he was really excited. He couldn't talk much about what he was doing, of course."

Tretton said, "We're a small town and this is a great loss. His (Shane's) dad is pretty upset about it, so we are all just giving him some space."

Patton and the 15 others who were killed with him were part of Operation Red Wing, a mission aimed at killing or capturing al-Qaida or Taliban fighters.

At the time of the crash, three helicopters had been dispatched to find a small reconnaissance team of SEALs who had crashed earlier in the day in the snowy mountainous area along the Afghan-Pakistani border while on a mission to locate a group of al-Qaida and Taliban fighters, according to a posting on the Navy SEALs Web site.

The helicopter was hit with a shoulder-fired rocket-propelled grenade and then crashed into a mountain, killing all on board, the site said.

Yesterday, military officials told the Associated Press that two of the SEALs from the reconnaissance team have been located alive. Two SEALs are dead.

One SEAL had taken shelter in the home of an Afghan village elder and was picked up by American forces Saturday. A second serviceman, who was also wounded, was located yesterday in another home in the remote, mountainous area.

U.S. military spokesman Lt. Col. Jerry O'Hara told the Associated Press that American forces are still searching for the remaining members of the missing special operations team.

On Sunday, Claudia Suh Brown told the Star-Bulletin how proud her brother, James Suh -- or Sung Gap Suh, as he was known to his family -- was of being part of the Navy SEALs. Brown arrived in Honolulu a few days ago to be with their father, Solomon Suh of Waipio Gentry.

Brown said her brother was proud "being part of an elite group of men who defied the limits of human physical and mental endurance."

She said, "He was always a protector of his family and friends and became equally committed to defending and protecting our country."

Natalie Healy of Exeter, N.H., said she knew that when her son, Daniel Healy, was shipped in March to Bahrain, he was headed for Afghanistan or Iraq.

Healy said, "I was always proud of him as a man; now I am proud of him as a soldier."

Healy said her son was trained to fight and believed in the war against terror.

"He believed he was doing the right thing. He believed if we don't fight them, if we don't stop them, they will attack us again. I told him, 'Kick theirs and cover yours, Dan.'"

Healy's two youngest children, 5-year-old Jasmine and 7-year-old Sasha, live with Healy's former wife, Robyn Healy of Palolo.

Healy's two other children from a previous marriage, Chelsea, 13, and Jake, 14, live in San Diego with their mother.

"Dan was a wonderful son, a tremendous father, a great brother and a good friend," Natalie Healy said. "There will be a great hole in our hearts until the day we die."


Military confirms
2 SEALs are dead

The commandos had been missing
in Afghanistan since last Tuesday

KABUL, Afghanistan » Two Navy SEALs missing in Afghanistan have been found dead, a senior U.S. defense official said last night.

Another SEAL was rescued on Saturday, and the fate of a fourth SEAL was unknown. The official who confirmed the recovery of the two bodies spoke on condition of anonymity because of the ongoing effort to account for the missing U.S. servicemen in Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, an American airstrike in Afghanistan's rugged eastern mountains killed 17 civilians, including women and children, an Afghan official said yesterday. The U.S. military confirmed the deaths but said the numbers were unclear.

An initial airstrike destroyed a house, and as villagers gathered to look at the damage, a U.S. warplane dropped a second bomb on the target, Kunar provincial Gov. Asadullah Wafa said.

The team of SEALs was reported missing last Tuesday in Kunar province. A rescue effort the same day ended in tragedy when the transport helicopter seeking to extract the team was shot down, killing 16 troops aboard.

The serviceman rescued on Saturday had taken shelter in an Afghan village elder's home in the province before American forces were notified of his location and picked him up, Wafa said.

Earlier, Wafa said a second missing service member had been located in his province. His information came from Afghan intelligence sources, he said. But a senior Defense Department official said a second Navy SEAL had not been found.

The Navy SEAL rescued from Kunar province was being evaluated yesterday, officials said. He was in stable condition and receiving medical treatment at the main U.S. base at Bagram.

An unprecedented spate of rebel attacks across the country have left about 700 people dead and threatened to sabotage three years of progress toward peace. Afghan officials insist the violence will not disrupt landmark legislative elections slated for September.

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