Neil Roberts (August 16, 1969 – March 4, 2002) was a US Navy SEAL, the first SEAL to die in combat in Afghanistan.
Roberts joined the United States Navy after graduation from high school, where he excelled in football and wrestling. He became a Navy SEAL in 1992. In March 2002, Roberts participated in the opening phase of Operation Anaconda, the U.S.-led offensive in the high mountains of eastern Afghanistan to surround and destroy a large group of al-Qaeda fighters.
Roberts was poised to exit the ramp of a MH-47 Chinook helicopter on a nighttime insertion, when the aircraft was hit by rocket-propelled grenades and machine-gun fire, cutting hydraulic and oil lines. He slipped on some oil as the helicopter took off and was thrown from the helicopter, dropping about 5 to 10 feet to the snowy ground below.Roberts was armed with a M249 SAW, pistol and several hand grenades. Roberts survived at least 30 minutes before he was shot and killed at close range. Roberts was the first Navy SEAL to die in Afghanistan, and the first to die in combat since 1989.
Rescue forces, unaware of his fate, retook the ridge at a cost of several American lives. The U.S. military now calls that part of Takur Ghar Mountain, “Roberts Ridge”. In 2004, Chris Reeve Knives dedicated a knife model to his memory known as the Neil Roberts Warrior.
- Neil C. Roberts at Find a Grave