Large crowd turns out to honor servicemen killed in Afghanistan copter attack
City News ServiceA memorial service honoring all 30 U.S. service members killed when their CH-47 Chinook helicopter was shot down in Afghanistan on Aug. 6 attracted about 3,000 mourners Wednesday at The Rock Church in Liberty Station.
The two-hour service came at the end of what has been the deadliest month for U.S. service members in Afghanistan since the nearly 10-year-old war began. A total of 66 U.S. service members died in Afghanistan this month, upping the previous record of 65 killed in July 2010.
In the Chinook crash, insurgents shot down the helicopter, apparently with nothing more sophisticated than a rocket-propelled grenade. Twenty-two of the 30 killed that day were members of the Coronado-based Naval Special Warfare branch, including 17 Navy SEALs.
Most of the SEALs were assigned to Virginia-based SEAL Team 6, the unit that carried out the mission earlier this year that killed Osama bin Laden. Two of the SEALs killed Aug. 6 were assigned to Coronado. They were Jesse D. Pittman, 27, and 24-year-old Nicholas P. Spehar.
Pittman and another fallen SEAL, 28-year-old Darrick C. Benson, were each laid to rest locally at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery earlier this week.
Spehar was buried at Fort Snelling National Cemetery near his hometown of Chisago City, Minn.
Also aboard the downed Chinook were seven Afghan commandos.
U.S. military officials said the insurgents responsible for downing the helicopter were killed in a retaliatory air strike.