Retired Air Force Tech. Sgt. Sean Harvell, a two-time Silver Star recipient, drowned Tuesday near his home in Long Beach, California, according to local reports.
Harvell, 33, was found dead floating in the water off a local beach, according to a report in the The Long Beach Post. A private security officer attempted to provide life-saving care until emergency services arrived, but the Long Beach Fire Department declared Harvell deceased, the Post said.
Harvell was one of only three airmen to have earned two Silver Stars during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Jane Maher, Harvell’s mother, said in a post to her Facebook page that it seemed her son could do anything.
“He was a great American hero. He served our country for many years. And he kicked a lot of ass,” she said.
According to Maher, the cause of death appears to be an “accidental drowning in front of the beach apartment he loved so much.”
A devastating month for the United States Air Force. Several weeks after the murder/suicide at Lackland Air Force Base took the life of Lt. Colonel William A. Schroeder comes the news of the death of one of the legends of the Air Force special operations community, combat controller Sean Harvell.
Sean’s death is a nightmare for a military family who has already suffered so much. Sean’s brother, Andy Harvell, also a combat controller, was shot down in Extortion 17 on August 6, 2011, along with pararescuemen John Brown and Dan Zerbe, the Army flight crew, and the SEAL team they were attached to.
You can read Sean’s two silver star awards right here. Below are some excerpts:
May 8-30, 2007:
On 30 May 2007, while attempting the recovery of a downed CH-47 helicopter and United States Army aircrew, he was wounded and knocked unconscious by a rocket propelled grenade fired by Taliban militants in a daring daylight ambush. Regaining consciousness and bleeding from multiple wounds, Sergeant Harvell engaged Taliban fighters with his personal M-4 carbine, M-12 shotgun and then grenades while simultaneously directing deadly, danger-close air attacks on the insurgent force, effectively neutralizing all enemy threats to his team and allowing another special operations team to recover the remains of all service members and sensitive equipment from the crash site. During these two days of fierce fighting, his expertise in the employment of air power and selfless service resulted in the death of 212 enemy combatants and release of 18,000 pounds of aviation ordnance.
July 25, 2007:
On the initial breach, he and his Marine Corps teammate engaged and killed an insurgent who was laying-in-wait from a covered position. Sergeant Harvell and his teammate then moved to another covered position to engage additional enemy combatants, whereupon Sergeant Harvell again risked his life sprinting through a fatal funnel of fire to gain a dominant attack position, keeping the enemy pinned inside a room and within the compound’s perimeter. Twice, while taking hellish, direct machine-gun fire from just thirty feet away, he exposed himself and shot a rocket propelled grenade to clear the enemy occupied room, but without immediate result. Sergeant Harvell then maneuvered inside the compound with three teammates; positioning himself below the window the Taliban were firing from. Crouching under the window, he pulled the pin on a grenade and delayed two seconds before throwing it through the opening, killing another insurgent and abating enemy fire.
One of the worst things in the world is to lose a sibling. Andy Harvell was only 26 years old when Extortion 17 was shot down. The brothers, both California natives, were only two years apart, and doing the same deadly job in service to the United States. Both brothers distinguished themselves in combat, joining the long list of highly decorated combat controllers in the USAF. They will be missed greatly.
Long-time readers of the SOFREP News Roundup will recall that I often ask myself, where does America find such men? Men who sprint toward the sound of gunfire. Men who risk their lives to protect their teammates and their country. It is astounding. We seldom realize how lucky we are to live under the blanket of protection that men like Sean and Andy Harvell have provided, and how exceedingly rare their valor is. So often, the deeds of these men go unsung. Many will never know their names, but those who know will keep their spirits alive. The Air Force, as well as the rest of the United States military, will never forget its heroes.
This is one of the best things about the military: the remembrance of those who came before, and who accomplished their mission in the very best tradition of duty, honor, and country. In that sense, Sean and Andy will never leave us. They will live on in the spirit of every successive generation of combat controllers, as well as the United States Air Force special operations community, forever.
Sean Harvell was 33 years old. RIP.
*In honor of the Harvell brothers, there will be no more news this week.