The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting the Navy Cross to Senior Chief Information Systems Technician (SEAL) Britt Slabinski, United States Navy, for extraordinary heroism as Sniper Element Leader in Sea-Air-Land Team EIGHT (SEAL-8), for a joint special operations unit conducting combat operations against enemy forces during Operation ANACONDA, Sahi-Kot Valley, Afghanistan on 3 and 4 March 2002, in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM. On the evening of 3 March, Senior Chief Petty Officer Slabinski led his seven-man reconnaissance team onto the snow-covered, 10,000 foot mountaintop known as Takur Ghar, to establish a combat overwatch position in support of U.S. Army forces advancing against the enemy on the valley floor. As their helicopter hovered over the mountain it was met by unrelenting rocket propelled grenade (RPG) and small arms fire by entrenched enemy forces. As a result of several RPG hits, a member of Senior Chief Petty Officer Slabinski's team was ejected from the helicopter into the midst of the fortified enemy positions. The badly damaged helicopter conducted a controlled crash, at which time Senior Chief Petty Officer Slabinski immediately took charge and established security on the crash location until the crew and his team were recovered to a support base. At this point, Senior Chief Slabinski fully aware of the overwhelming, fixed, enemy forces over the mountain, but also knowing the desperate situation of his missing teammate, now reportedly fighting for his life, without hesitation made the selfless decision to lead his team on an immediate, bold rescue mission. He heroically led the remainder of his SEAL element back onto the snow-covered, remote, mountaintop into the midst of the numerically superior enemy forces in a daring and valiant attempt to rescue one of their own. After a treacherous helicopter insertion onto the mountaintop, Senior Chief Petty Officer Slabinski led his close quarter firefight. He skillfully maneuvered his team and bravely engaged multiple enemy positions, personally clearing one bunker and killing several enemy within. His unit became caught in a withering crossfire from other bunkers and the closing enemy forces. Despite mounting casualties, Senior Chief Petty Officer Slabinski maintained his composure and continued to engage the enemy until his position became untenable. Faced with no choice but a tactical withdrawal, he coolly directed fire from airborne assets to cover his team. He then led an arduous movement through the mountainous terrain, constantly under fire, covering over one kilometer in waist-deep snow, while carrying a seriously wounded teammate. Arriving at a defensible position, he organized his team's security posture and stabilized his casualties. For over fourteen hours, Senior Chief Petty Officer Slabinski directed the defense of his position through countless engagements, personally engaging the enemy and directing close air support onto the enemy positions until the enemy was ultimately defeated. During this entire sustained engagement, Senior Chief Petty Officer Slabinski exhibited classic grace under fire in steadfastly leading the intrepid rescue operation, saving the lives of his wounded men and setting the conditions for the ultimate vanquishing of the enemy and the seizing of Takur Ghar. By his heroic display of decisive and tenacious leadership, unyielding courage in the face of constant enemy fire, and utmost devotion to duty, Senior Chief Petty Officer Slabinski reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.
Action Date: March 3 & 4, 2002
Rank: Senior Chief Information Systems Technician
Company: Sea-Air-Land Team 8 (SEAL-8)
Division: Joint Special Operations Unit
Submitted by Doug Bewall RMCM USN Ret