CORONADO, Calif. (NNS) -- Secretary of the Navy Dr. Donald C. Winter presented one of the nation's highest military awards to a Naval Special Warfare task group and its subordinate tactical and support elements May 10 during a ceremony at Naval Special Warfare (NSW) Command.
SECNAV praised the Sailors' bravery and dedication as he presented the Presidential Unit Citation to NSW Task Group-Central, NSW Squadron 3, and NSW Unit 3 for their actions during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
"I hope people get a sense of the significance of what these men have done, and the tremendous contribution that it has provided to this nation and the free world," Winter said. "This is a time when we need people to come forward to do the most difficult tasks efficiently and effectively."
The Presidential Unit Citation was established by President Franklin D. Roosevelt Feb. 6, 1942, and is awarded to U.S. military and allied units for extraordinary heroism in action against an armed enemy. The unit must have accomplished its mission under such extremely difficult and hazardous conditions to set it apart from and above other units participating in the same campaign. The award requires the same degree of heroism as that which would be needed for an individual to receive the Navy Cross.
NSW Task Group-Central and the subordinate elements participated in the largest NSW operation in history. Members of the unit and squadron seized oil terminals in the Northern Persian Gulf, and Task Group-Central coordinated the assault around the Al Faw pipeline. Their actions prevented ecological disaster by securing several oil-related targets that had been rigged with explosives.
"Going into an uncharted territory, all the men knew the significance of the event and how catastrophic it could have been," said Senior Chief Operations Specialist (SEAL) Richard Ledford, an operations chief during the Al Faw mission.
While SEALs completed their missions on land with tactical precision, Special Boat teams traveled through the Khawr Abd Allah estuary, infiltrating the Iraqi port city of Umm Qasr. Despite constant sniper attacks, the boat teams held their position until the risk of danger from floating mines and land-based forces was eliminated.
"It was a tremendous opportunity to be in that situation," said Lt. Cmdr. Van Wennen, the assault force commander tasked with securing Mina Al Bakr (one of the two major offshore terminals). "Many men within the Naval Special Warfare community could have done what I did. I was just lucky enough to be there at the time."
For more information on Naval Special Warfare visit the Web site www.seal.navy.mil.
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