“Senior Chief Dan Healy was a great SEAL. He was fiercely determined to face the enemy on the field of battle. I know of no other man who I would want with me more when facing the enemy. All SEALs will forever be held to a higher standard because of what Dan Healy did.” – Healy Teammate Chief Warrant Officer Dave Bauer.
What makes a hero? The answer lies in the response to two simple questions: “Could you make the ultimate sacrifice for something you believe in?” and “Would you give your life for someone else?” Heroes have been asked these questions throughout history. American heroes have answered these questions without hesitation, from Lexington and Concord to Gettysburg to the Hindu Kush, Kunar Province. Heroes are those who acknowledge courage is not the absence of fear, but the triumph over fear. One such hero is New Hampshire native Navy SEAL Senior Chief Petty Officer Dan “Danny” Healy.
Dan Healy is but one name among those who have fallen in the line of duty, but he represents the honor and the devotion to duty that all of our fallen heroes have demonstrated with their sacrifice. On June 28, 2005, Danny was joined by fellow Navy SEALs and Army commandos as they raced to rescue four Navy SEALs who were under attack by Taliban fighters; an incident that was portrayed in the book “Lone Survivor,” and the movie by the same name. Healy’s story is one that reminds all of us that there is no greater gift by man than to lay down his life for love. Danny’s sacrifice was more than about a mission known as Operation Red Wing. Danny put himself in harm’s way for the love for his brothers, his fellow Navy SEALs.
Lt. Michael Murphy, Matthew Axelson, Danny Dietz and Marcus Luttrell were part of a Navy SEAL unit tasked with engaging Taliban leader Ahmad Shah, who was responsible for killing more than 20 U.S. Marines, as well as slaughtering Afghan villagers who were friendly to American forces. After being compromised, Murphy, Axelson, Dietz and Luttrell engaged in a fierce firefight with Taliban forces with superior firepower. Eventually, Axelson, Dietz, and Murphy (who in 2007 was the recipient of the Medal of Honor) would perish in the battle.
As the battle progressed, Dan Healy joined his fellow Navy SEALs and Army commandos in an attempt to mount a rescue effort. On June 28, 2005, Danny boarded a Chinook helicopter to help his brothers in need because that is what heroes do. Heroes run toward chaos, while others flee. Heroes take responsibility for the lives of their fellow man, even at great peril to themselves. Honor, courage and commitment are the traits of a hero, the virtues of the Navy SEALs, and the embodiment of Dan Healy. On June 28, 2005, the angels took the soul of Dan Healy home. Danny did not take his final journey alone. He was joined by 10 of his Navy SEAL brothers and eight Army commandos. Dan Healy was a hero in life, one of many heroes we honor on Memorial Day.
In Danny’s hometown of Exeter, there is a simple, yet beautiful memorial in his honor. The citizens of Exeter have also named their community pool after him, a wonderful tribute that any Navy SEAL would appreciate. Dan Healy paid the last full measure of devotion out of love and commitment for his brothers. There is no complexity in defining a hero, for the definition of a hero rests in the actions of Dan Healy and the words of Henry V – “From this day to the ending of the world, But we in it shall be remember’d; We few, we happy few, we band of brothers; For he to-day that sheds his blood with me Shall be my brother.’
Dan Healy represents the best that is New Hampshire and the United States of America. On Memorial Day we honor those who gave all. If you are unable to attend one of the many Memorial Day events, take the time to visit the Navy SEAL Senior Chief Petty Officer Dan Healy memorial, New Hampshire State Veterans Cemetery in Boscawen, or a memorial of your choosing. When you honor one of our fallen heroes, you honor them all.
An audio tribute to New Hampshire’s Fallen came be found at my website http://jeffchidester.com/resource/.