Release [print-friendly version]
DEA Remembers Its Fallen Heroes
OCT 29 -- KABUL, AFGHANISTAN – A memorial service was held today in Kabul, Afghanistan in remembrance of those DEA Special Agents and United States servicemen who were killed this week while completing a joint counternarcotics mission. Those who conducted the memorial service include DEA Assistant Regional Director Jay Fitzpatrick, and Deputy Ambassador Francis J. Ricciardone.
Remarks by DEA Acting Administrator Michele M. Leonhart (in absentia):
“Today, we mourn the tragic loss of three DEA Special Agents:
“These were not ordinary men. In a world where “ordinary” has become acceptable, these courageous human beings made “extraordinary” contributions.
“They pledged an oath, they wore a badge, and they “stood the line.”
“They were proud warriors performing a vital mission. They were more than just Special Agents, they were also special Americans. Like you, they volunteered to serve their country. Like you, they believed in the mission. Like you, they made the saving of lives their life’s work.
“We are all saddened by this tragic event. DEA is an extremely tight family, and the death of these three brave agents is a devastating loss for us. We honor their service, bravery, and sacrifice. We all stand taller and fight harder for having known them. Their loss inspires us to even greater determination.
“No expressions of grief can adequately convey the depth of the collective sorrow that we feel for their family and friends. The heartfelt prayers and deepest sympathies of everyone at DEA go out to them.
“We owe our fallen heroes a debt of gratitude that can never be repaid, and we will forever cherish their call to service and carry their spirit in our hearts.
“In closing, DEA would like to thank everyone, both civilian and military, who came to our aid by providing invaluable assistance and support during our time of need. DEA will forever be grateful.
Remarks by DEA Assistant Regional Director Jay Fitzpatrick:
“Today, we remember three DEA Special Agents and seven U.S. Military Service members who tragically lost their lives during operations in western Afghanistan.
“During the early morning hours of Monday, October 26, 2009, Special Agents Michael E. Weston, Forrest N. Leamon, Chad L. Michael, other DEA Special Agents, U.S. Special Forces, and our Afghan counterparts, were executing Afghan search warrants at a bazaar in Afghanistan’s rugged Badghis Province. This bazaar was a safe haven for insurgents and contained significant quantities of narcotics, improvised explosive devices, and weapons used against Coalition Forces.
“At approximately 0330 hours, and after an extremely successful counter narcotics/counter insurgency operation, which included an hour-long firefight with insurgents, U.S. military personnel, DEA agents, and our Afghan counterparts were departing the target area on a U.S. military CH-47 helicopter when it crashed killing Special Agent Weston, Special Agent Leamon, Special Agent Michael and seven Special Forces personnel. Twenty-six personnel were injured, including DEA FAST Team Leader Pat McDarby, who was badly hurt on impact. Risking further injury, he and other able U.S. military personnel immediately began removing the injured from the burning wreckage.
“Each and every one of them performed heroically in the face of extreme danger, as they removed casualties from the crash site in order to start administering life saving measures. Also, after the crash, the other CH-47 participating in the operation returned to the crash site. U.S. military personnel and DEA Special Agents aboard that helicopter performed flawlessly in what was a dangerous and volatile situation. Thank you.”
Remarks by Deputy Ambassador Francis J. Ricciardone
“Thank you all for coming. As you know, early on Monday morning, our Mission and our country suffered a terrible tragedy. Three Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agents from our Mission family, along with seven U.S. Army soldiers, were killed when their CH-47 helicopter crashed in western Afghanistan. We have gathered today to pay tribute to these devoted Americans, who have made the ultimate sacrifice for their country and for the essential work we are doing in Afghanistan.
“Twenty-six others aboard the helicopter were injured in the crash, and we also honor them and pray for their speedy recovery.
“It is with profound sadness and admiration that I now read you the names of our fallen countrymen:
“I would also like to pay tribute the U.S. military personnel who lost their lives in the crash.
“Their deaths were followed yesterday by the attack on United Nations personnel in Kabul, which resulted in the senseless deaths of five international colleagues, who were also here to help Afghans of goodwill. Two Afghan police were also killed bravely repelling the terrorists' attack.
“As we mourn the loss of our ten Americans, I would also ask that we recognize the U.N.'s sacrifice, as well as that of the Afghan National Police. We can take encouragement from the fact that, despite the dangers we face, there are Americans and people of vision from many countries who come here willingly and with optimism to assist Afghanistan.
“We should also be proud that the Afghan people will defend their country against those who would return it to anarchy and lawlessness.
“Special Agents Weston, Leamon and Michael exemplified the best traditions of service to country and of high achievement. They were far from home and their families, carrying out a difficult mission for the betterment of Afghanistan.
“All of us in this Mission can draw strength from the example of these excellent men and our military brothers. Inspired by their example, we can resolve to redouble our commitment to the work that brought us all here. By doing so we will ensure that their ultimate sacrifice produces a better Afghanistan and a safer world for the United States.”