MCLEAN, Va., July 24, 2013 - Two fallen Navy petty officers became the 18th and 19th recipients of the National Intelligence Medal for Valor in a July 22 ceremony at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence here.
Calling Day and Strange "two young heroes who gave the last full measure of devotion to their country," Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper presented the medals in front of a standing-room-only gathering of families, friends and shipmates.
Day, a few days shy of his 29th birthday when he died, was a tactical communicator, and Strange, 25, was an information operations operator. Both were assigned within Naval special operations when they responded Aug. 6, 2011, to enemy forces escaping from a nearby raid in an enemy-contested valley of eastern Afghanistan, the award citations read.
Knowing the valley served as an enemy safe haven with no sustained coalition force presence, and knowing that their mission was to interdict and ambush an armed enemy force, Day and Strange volunteered to pursue an enemy known to have attacked and killed coalition forces with plans for future attacks, the citations said.
Both "selflessly chose to interdict the fleeing enemy when [they] boarded the helicopter with [their] teammates," the citations said, but the aggressive mission ended tragically when their helicopter was struck by a rocket-propelled grenade, causing it to crash and killing all on board.
Twenty-eight other Americans, eight Afghans and a military working dog were en route to assist an Army Ranger unit engaged in a firefight with Taliban forces west of the Afghan capital of Kabul, Clapper added.