Monday night's raid, during which the three DEA agents and seven U.S. Army special operations soldiers perished, was just such an operation. Special Agents Leamon and Michael were FAST members, and Michael Weston, also a major in the Marine Corps Reserve, was from the DEA's Kabul Country Office. Accompanying the Americans was a platoon of Afghan commandos and police. Their mission: to destroy a major opium shipment at a transit point and capture or kill a high-value narco-Taliban target.
According to those who were there, MH-47 helicopters of the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment -- the legendary "Night Stalkers" -- lifted the raid force from the same base in western Afghanistan where we were just weeks ago, inserted them at the objective in Badghis province and departed. After what one participant described as a "brisk gunfight," the raid force moved to its extract landing zone. On takeoff, one of the MH-47s apparently struck an obstacle, and the large helicopter with 39 aboard crashed in the mountainous terrain, killing 10 and severely injuring nearly all who survived.
One of the raid participants gave me a matter-of-fact description of what happened next: "Within minutes of the bird going down, insurgents rushed to the site and engaged the survivors with small arms. For the next 40 minutes or so, we set up a perimeter, protected our dead and wounded, and fought back until we could be extracted."
That's it -- no bravado, just a straightforward recitation of what transpired. Those are the kind of people we have fighting this war -- as soldiers, sailors airmen, Marines and DEA agents. They meet the definition of hero: a person who puts himself at risk for the benefit of others.
Forrest Leamon, Chad Michael, Michael Weston and their families have made extraordinary sacrifices on our behalf. Those serving in Afghanistan today are in harm's way and have forfeited the comforts of home and the warmth and affection of family for the rest of us. It was good that Mr. Obama got to see them and their loved ones at Dover. Now he needs to do the right thing again and send Gen. Stanley McChrystal the troops and equipment he needs to win.
Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, the host of War Stories on the Fox News Channel, the author of the new novel Heroes Proved and the co-founder of Freedom Alliance, an organization that provides college scholarships to the children of U.S. military personnel killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. Join Oliver North in Israel by going to www.olivernorthisrael.com.