A retired Navy SEAL who led an attempt to rescue a fellow service member stranded on a mountain in Afghanistan in 2002 will receive the Medal of Honor on May 24, the White House announced Monday.
Retired Master Chief Special Warfare Operator Britt Slabinski will receive the medal later this month for leading a reconnaissance team that was under fire to rescue a “seriously wounded teammate” stranded on an Afghanistan mountaintop on March 4, 2002, according to the statement released by the White House.
The Navy Times reported that Slabinski carried out the rescue during Operation Anaconda in 2002.
Slabinski “repeatedly exposed himself to enemy fire as he engaged in a pitched, close-quarters firefight against the tenacious and more heavily armed enemy forces,” the announcement stated.
He led his team “through waist-deep snow” while continuing to fight the enemy.
The man Slabinski and his team tried to rescue, Air Force Tech Sgt. John Chapman, later died an exchange of fire with the enemy combatants. Although the White House has not announced it publicly, a report from last month stated that Chapman would receive the Medal of Honor posthumously.
The Medal of Honor is given to those who risk their lives to go above and beyond their duties as service members.
Slabinski is only the 12th living service member to receive the Medal of Honor for displaying bravery in Afghanistan, and his Medal of Honor is an upgrade from the Navy Cross he received for his heroic actions in Afghanistan, according to a statement from the Navy.
He enlisted in the Navy in 1988 and became a SEAL two years later, according to the White House. Throughout his career, Slabinski went on nine overseas deployments and 15 combat deployments to operations supporting the War on Terrorism— including Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.