VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (NNS) -- A family friend of Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Handling) (SEAL) 1st Class Neil Roberts, the Navy SEAL who was killed March 4 in Eastern Afghanistan, said recently that Roberts was "a loving husband and father, a loving son and brother, a true friend and warrior who never once questioned his commitment to his family or his country."
"He made the ultimate sacrifice to ensure that everyone who calls himself or herself an American truly has all the privileges of living in the greatest country in the world," said Christina Kalassay from Virginia Beach, who also extended the family's condolences to families of other service members killed in action.
Roberts, 32, of Virginia Beach, Va., was a 14-year Navy veteran and was assigned to a Norfolk-based SEAL unit. He is survived by his wife, an 18-month-old son, his mother, and 11 siblings.
Originally from Woodland, Calif., Roberts died after the MH-47E Chinook helicopter he was riding in with other Special Operations Forces (SOF) came under attack by enemy fire. The helicopter was operating in support of Operation Anaconda in Eastern Afghanistan.
In a letter Roberts left to his wife, he wrote:
"I consider myself blessed with the best things a man could ever hope for. My childhood is something I'll always treasure. My family is the reason I'm the person I am today. They supported and cared for me in the best way possible. The Navy, although I sacrificed personal freedom and many other things, I got just as much as I gave. My time in the Teams was special. For all the times I was cold, wet, tired, sore, scared, hungry and angry, I had a blast. The bad was balanced equally with the good. All the times spent in the company of my teammates was when I felt the closest to the men I had the privilege to work with. I loved being a SEAL. If I died doing something for the Teams, then I died doing what made me happy. Very few people have the luxury of that."
Roberts is the first Navy SEAL and the first Sailor killed in action during Operation Enduring Freedom, where SEALs are conducting a variety of land and sea-based missions with the purpose of locating al-Qaeda and Taliban forces.
The last time Navy SEALs were killed in combat occurred in the Republic of Panama on Dec. 20, 1989, during Operation Just Cause. Four SEALs were killed in the U.S. attempt to secure Patilla airfield.
Those interested in sending a donation may forward them to: The Neil Roberts Memorial Fund, Navy Federal Credit Union Lynnhaven Branch, 509 Viking Drive, Virginia Beach, VA 23452 and/or The Naval Special Warfare Foundation, In Memory of Neil Roberts, P.O. Box 5365, Virginia Beach, VA 23471.
For additional information about Navy SEALs, go to http://www.seal.navy.mil.