Va. SEAL Community Mourns Loss, Bands Together

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The country is mourning the loss of the U.S. Navy SEALS and other U.S. military personnel who were killed over the  weekend in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan.
          
On Saturday, Taliban insurgents shot down the CH-47 Chinook helicopter, killing 30 American servicemen, including 22 Navy SEALs.

It was the deadliest single day for U.S. forces in the decade long war in Afghanistan.

Most of the SEALs were part of the covert SEAL Team Six, the elite unit responsible for killing Osama bin Laden in May.  None of the men who took part in that raid were believed to be on the helicopter.
       
The elite band of warriors is based at a military base in Virginia Beach, Va.  Everyone in the tight knit Navy town felt  the loss.

Click play for reaction from CBN News Military Reporter Chuck Holton following Mark Martin's report.

To many Navy families in Virginia Beach, the SEAL casualties are much more than news headlines and statistics. They are husbands, fathers, and neighbors.

"They are warriors when they are at work, but they have children. They are daddy, you know. They are somebody's husband, somebody's son, somebody's brother," resident Diane Shipley said.
    
Diane and her retired Navy SEAL husband don are part the close SEAL community. News of the tragedy spread fast.

"I got a phone call from one of the wives, and I immediately screamed and started naming off names to make sure immediate family was safe and then just cried. We both cried," Diane said.
 
Members of SEAL Team Six are an elite group. Losing so many members at one time has been a devastating blow.
 
"It's important to understand what they do over there," Don said. "They are Spartans.  They are gladiators."
     
One of those gladiators was 25-year-old Petty Officer 1st Class Michael Strange. He had just gotten engaged and purchased a new home in Virginia.
 
"He got deployed again in July. He said he'd be home for Thanksgiving," his father Charles Strange recalled, breaking into tears. "He was a great kid. Man, he fought for this country."
     
Then there's 30-year-old Aaron Carson Vaughn, a father of two with a new born on the way.
 
"He was a fabulous son to his parents and a great big brother, and to me, he was the love of my life," Vaughn's widow said.

Churches in Virginia Beach spent Sunday ministering and praying for the families who lost loved ones Saturday's fatal attack and crash.
 
"We'll just be there as a church if they need food, need us to take care of kids -- whatever they need," said Kyle Wall, the pastor of Atlantic Shores Baptist Church

"It's a great sense of community and a great love that we have for our military, so it's like part of our family," church member Gaye Techanchuk said.
 
It's a community coming together to help each other heal from tragedy.

"To see the sacrifice their families are making, the further sacrifice just hurts us all. It just hurts," John Gillis, a friend of one the fallen SEALs said. "It just shocks us all because we are going to miss them terribly." 

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Mark Martin

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Mark Martin is a reporter and anchor at CBN News, covering various issues from military matters to alternative fuels. Mark has reported internationally in the Middle East and traveled to Bahrain to cover stories on the U.S.S. Dwight D. Eisenhower. Follow Mark on Twitter @MarkMartinCBN and "like" him at Facebook.com/MarkMartinCBN.