Petty Officer 1st Class Neil C. Roberts
Navy SEAL awarded posthumous Bronze Star
From Jamie McIntyre, CNN Military Affairs Correspondent
The Navy has awarded a posthumous Bronze Star medal to the U.S. Navy SEAL who was killed by al Qaeda forces after he was knocked out of his helicopter in the opening phase of Operation Anaconda on March 3. The citation for Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Aircraft Handling) SEAL 1st Class Neal C. Roberts reads in part:
"On that evening, his unit was to conduct a clandestine insertion onto a 10,000-foot mountain peak to establish an overwatch position, for an indeterminate amount of time, protecting other U.S. forces participating in the operation.
As the helicopter moved into position for the insertion, Petty Officer Roberts positioned himself on the helicopter ramp in order to expeditiously exit the helicopter, minimizing the threat to the aircraft and crew.
Without notice, his CH-47 helicopter received three rocket-propelled grenades exploding through the body of the aircraft. "Hydraulic lines showered the metal ramp with slippery fluid as the aircraft lurched violently from the unexpected assault. "Petty Officer Roberts was thrown from the ramp of the helicopter, falling onto the al Qaeda-infested mountain top just feet below.
He immediately maneuvered to make contact with rescue forces and establish a defensive position but, surrounded by overwhelming enemy force with superior fire power, Petty Officer Roberts died on the battlefield from fatal combat wounds.
By his zealous initiative, courageous actions, and exceptional dedication to duty, Petty Officer Roberts reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the United States Navy.
The Combat Distinguishing Device is authorized."