Erik S. Kristensen

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Erik S. Kristensen
Erik S. Kristensen - Navy photograph.jpg
Born(1972-03-15)March 15, 1972
DiedJune 28, 2005(2005-06-28) (aged 33)[1]
Kunar Province, Afghanistan
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch United States Navy
Years of service1995–2005
RankUS-O4 insignia.svg Lieutenant Commander
UnitUnited States Navy Special Warfare insignia.png U.S. Navy SEALs
Battles/warsOperation Enduring Freedom
War in Afghanistan
AwardsBronze Star Medal ribbon.svg Bronze Star with Valor device[1]
Purple Heart ribbon.svg Purple Heart
Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal ribbon.svg Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (3)
Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal ribbon.svg Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal (2)
Combat Action Ribbon.svg Combat Action Ribbon
National Defense Service Medal ribbon.svg National Defense Service Medal (2)
Afghanistan Campaign Medal ribbon.svg Afghanistan Campaign Medal
Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal ribbon.svg Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal
Global War on Terrorism Service Medal ribbon.svg Global War on Terrorism Service Medal
Navy and Marine Corps Sea Service Deployment Ribbon.svg Sea Service Ribbons (2)
U.S. Navy Expert Rifleman Ribbon.svg Navy Rifle Marksmanship Medal
U.S. Navy Expert Pistol Shot Ribbon.svg Navy Pistol Marksmanship Medal

Erik S. Kristensen (March 15, 1972 – June 28, 2005) was a Lieutenant Commander of the United States Navy SEALs who were killed in action during Operation Red Wings. He and several other SEALs set off as part of a search and rescue mission, hoping to assist a four-man SEAL team that was engaged in a firefight with Taliban fighters.


Kristensen was born into a military family of partial Danish and Norwegian ancestry. His father, Edward Kristensen, is a career officer in the United States Navy who rose to the rank of Rear Admiral.[2] As his father was in the military, Erik traveled widely with his family as a child, living in such places as Japan, Guam, California, Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C., among others.

Erik Kristensen graduated from Gonzaga College High School in Washington, D.C. in 1990, and continued his education at Phillips Academy (Andover, Massachusetts) before moving on to the United States Naval Academy where he majored in English. After graduation in 1995, he was commissioned an Ensign and served in the engineering, and Combat Systems department of USS Chandler in Everett, Washington. He attended the Graduate Institute at St. John's College in Annapolis, Maryland, while he taught English at the U.S. Naval Academy. He left both his graduate studies and teaching at the Academy to pursue a career as a Navy SEAL. He reported to Basic Underwater Demolition/Sea, Air, Land training (BUD/S) at Coronado, California at age 27, one of the oldest in his class.[2] Kristensen graduated with class 233 in March 2001 followed by completion of Parachute Training and SEAL Qualification Training. His first assignment was to SEAL Team EIGHT as a platoon commander.

Operation Red Wings[edit]

On June 28, 2005, a four-man Navy SEAL reconnaissance and surveillance team was assigned to keep eyes on Ahmad Shah (nom de guerre Mohammad Ismail), who had no affiliation with the Taliban other than fighting against Anti-Coalition Forces but who was responsible for operations in eastern Afghanistan and the Hindu Kush mountains.[3] The SEAL team was made up of Matthew Axelson, Danny Dietz, Marcus Luttrell, and Michael P. Murphy.[3] Luttrell and Axelson were the team's snipers; Dietz was the communications officer and Murphy the team leader. The four SEALs engaged local Taliban forces, they were engaged in an intense gun battle against a force of approximately 30–40 enemy fighters.[4] Murphy risked his life to get off an emergency message to his command. Of the four-man team, only Luttrell would survive.

Upon hearing the distress call, an MH-47 Chinook helicopter was dispatched with a force consisting of SEALs including Kristensen and 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment "Nightstalkers" to rescue the team, but the helicopter was shot down by an RPG; all 16 men on board the Chinook including Kristensen were killed.[5] The battle was later called "the worst single day loss of life for Naval Special Warfare personnel since World War II."[6] In interviews Ahmad Shah maintained that his forces had set a trap for the American forces: "We certainly know that when the American army comes under pressure and they get hit, they will try to help their friends. It is the law of the battlefield."[7]


Days after Kristensen's death was announced, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger released a statement stating his deepest condolences to his family and friends and announcing that flags at the California State Capitol would be flown at half-staff in his honor.[8]

Kristensen's funeral mass (Mass of Christian Burial) was performed on July 19, 2005.[9] His mother told the press her son would be buried in his Birkenstock sandals.[10] He is interred at the U.S. Naval Academy Cemetery.

Awards and decorations[edit]

U.S. military decorations
Bronze Star with Combat "V"
Purple Heart
Gold star
Gold star
Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal with two gold award star
Gold star
Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal with gold award star
Gold star
Combat Action Ribbon with gold award star
Battle Efficiency Ribbon
Bronze star
National Defense Service Medal with bronze service star
Bronze star
Afghanistan Campaign Medal
Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal
Global War on Terrorism Service Medal
Navy Sea Service Deployment Ribbon
U.S. Navy Expert Rifleman Ribbon.svg Navy Expert Rifleman Medal
U.S. Navy Expert Pistol Shot Ribbon.svg Navy Expert Pistol Shot Medal
U.S. badges, patches and tabs
United States Navy Special Warfare insignia.png Naval Special Warfare insignia
Surface Warfare Officer Insignia.png Surface Warfare insignia
United States Navy Parachutist Badge.png Navy and Marine Corps Parachutist Insignia

Erik Kristensen Eye Street Klassic[edit]

A charity, the LCDR Erik S. Kristensen '90, USN, Memorial Scholarship Fund, was created in Kristensen's honor after his death. The fund seeks to assist a Gonzaga College High School student whose family serves in the U.S. armed forces. The Erik Kristensen Eye Street Klassic is held annually to raise money for the scholarship fund.[11]

In media[edit]

In the 2013 film Lone Survivor, Kristensen is portrayed by actor Eric Bana.[12]


  1. ^ a b "Erik S. Kristensen". navy 2008. Retrieved 2008-12-14.
  2. ^ a b Lengel, Allan (July 6, 2005). "Navy SEAL From the District Died Leading Rescue Mission". Washington Post. Retrieved 2008-12-14.
  3. ^ a b Naylor, Sean D. (2007-06-18). "Surviving SEAL tells story of deadly mission". Army Times. Retrieved 2008-07-21.
  4. ^ "Interview with Luttrell". Pritzker Military Library. May 19, 2008. Retrieved 2008-12-10.
  5. ^ "Interview with Matt Lauer". The Today Show. June 12, 2007. Retrieved 2008-12-10.
  6. ^ "Navy SEAL to be awarded Medal of Honor". 10/11/2007. Retrieved 2008-12-20. Check date values in: |date= (help)
  7. ^ Lisa Myers & the NBC Investigative Unit (December 27, 2005). "An interview with a Taliban commander". MSNBC. Retrieved 2008-12-10.
  8. ^ "Gov. Schwarzenegger Issues Statement on Death of San Diego Navy Officer: Lt. Cmdr. Erik S. Kristensen". Schwarzenegger. 7/05/2005. Archived from the original on 2008-10-26. Retrieved 2008-12-14. Check date values in: |date= (help)
  9. ^ Info re Erik Kristensen's funeral
  10. ^ "Navy SEAL from San Diego killed in Afghanistan". Associated Press. 2007. Archived from the original on 2008-12-10. Retrieved 2008-12-14.
  11. ^ "kristensen klassic". 2008. Retrieved 2008-12-14.
  12. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-12-02. Retrieved 2012-12-02.

External links[edit]