At Memorial Park in Cupertino is a large circular area with memorials to fallen soldiers from all wars, firefighters and policemen. In the center of this memorial area is a specific memorial to a Cuperetino native son who was killed in Afghanistan in what was the worst single-day U.S. Forces death toll since Operation Enduring Freedom had began nearly six years ago earlier.
Operation Redwing was an action design to kill or capture Taliban leader Ahmad Shah. Four Navy SEALs, LT Michael P. Murphy, Matthew Axelson, Danny Dietz and Marcus Luttrell, were inserted at night near Asadabad, Afghanistan. The next Afghan fighters in a "well organized, three-sided attack" forced the SEALs into a ravine, all of them receiving injuries during the descent.
LT Murphy made a call for emergency help from his cell phone, but was injured while placing the call. After two hours of fighting, only Luttrell remained alive. A rescue group in an MH-47 helicopter, carrying eight Navy SEALs and eight Night Stalkers, was shot down by a rocket propelled grenade.
Luttrell was able to hide and eventually, with the help of local villagers, was extracted five days later by U.S. Force.
Of the initial four SEALs, Lieutenant Murphy was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions during the battle. Matthew Axelson and Danny Dietz were posthumously awarded the Navy Cross for "undaunted courage" and heroism. The lone survivor, Marcus Luttrell, was also awarded the Navy Cross. In April 2008, Ahmad Shah, who was the target of Operation Redwing, was killed during a shootout with Pakistani police in the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.
The Afgan Memorial statue in Cupertino is titled The Guardians. The statue depicts native son, Matthew Axelson, and his buddy, James Suh, kneeling back-to-back. There are multiple plaques on the marble base of the bronze artwork. On the ground surrounding the base are 19 square tiles, one for each soldier who lost their life on this day and one tile for the survivor.