At a White House ceremony on May 24, 2018,President Donald Trump presented the Medal of Honor to retired Master Chief Special Warfare Operator Britt K. Slabinski who led a daring mission to rescue a teammate from a mountain top in Afghanistan during Operation Anaconda in 2002.
Slabinski led a team back to rescue a fellow SEAL, Petty Officer 1st Class Neil Roberts, who was ejected from an MH-47 Chinook when it was crippled by enemy rocket-propelled grenade fire on March 4, 2002, in eastern Afghanistan, according to a White House release.
The team had originally begun a mission the day before to set up an outpost on the top of Takur Ghar mountain in Afghanistan’s Shah-i-Kot Valley as part of Operation Anaconda. The rescue mission turned into a violent battle. At one point, Slabinski led his six-man joint team up a snow-covered hill in a frontal assault against two bunkers. Withering enemy fire came in from three directions. Slabinski “repeatedly exposed himself to enemy fire” as he attacked al-Qaida forces in the rescue attempt, it states.
Soon they were in a desperate fight, and “after several teammates became casualties, the situation became untenable.” Slabinski moved his team to a safer position and directed airstrikes through the night. In the early morning hours, he then led an exhausting trek though waist-deep snow — all the while under enemy fire.
Slabinski treated casualties and continued to call in strikes on enemy forces for another 14 hours until the team had to be extracted. The engagement would ultimately be known as “The Battle of Roberts Ridge” in honor of Roberts.
Slabinski is the second living SEAL to receive the nation’s highest honor for valor in combat in Afghanistan. Senior Chief Special Warfare Operator Edward Byers received the award in February 2016 for his actions during a mission to rescue an American doctor who had been captured by the Taliban.It was the third Medal of Honor ceremony presided over by Trump, and the first Medal of Honor he has awarded for valor in Afghanistan.