Monday, March 9, 2009

SEAL lost eye, but teammates never lost nerve

Nothing more to say about this Hero.

By Gidget Fuentes - Staff writer
Posted : Monday Mar 9, 2009 9:10:18 EDT

CORONADO, Calif. — The story floated around this naval amphibious base last year: An instructor of SEAL candidates yanked out his prosthetic right eye, presumably while lashing out at tired-out candidates suffering from the chilly Pacific surf.

The sun’s rays would reflect the SEAL trident symbol etched onto the surface of the eye. The effect of the trident coming alive, in a way, unnerved quite a few first-phase students who hoped to earn themselves the famous pin.

The story was no tall tale. The Trident eye belongs to retired Special Warfare Operator 1st Class (SEAL) Mark Robbins, who lost his eye in combat in Iraq.

“[The students] didn’t want to look me in the eye. It’s intimidating,” he said. “I tried to use it as a motivational tool, a reason to stop thinking of themselves, maybe to think as a team.”

A bullet went through Robbins’ skull during a battle between a close-knit SEAL team and well-armed insurgents in a farming area near Habbaniyah, Iraq, on April 2, 2007. That day, Robbins’ teammates thought he was dead. Even after a medevac helicopter took him to a military trauma team, they feared that since the bullet cut through his head, he would not live to see another day.

The events that led to the loss of his eye remain fuzzy. “I remember what people tell me,” Robbins said, speaking by telephone from Chicago. Details relayed by his teammates from SEAL Team 5 have helped paint the picture of what happened that day, events that earned one of the SEALs the nation’s third-highest combat award for valor.

Navy Times interviewed several SEALs involved. Some asked that their names not be used. Here is their account.

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