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First Name: Neil

Last Name: Roberts

Birthplace: Woodland, CA, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Navy (present)

Rating: Aviation Boatswain's Mate Petty Officer 1st Class

Home of Record: Woodland, CA
Middle Name: Christopher

Date of Birth: 16 August 1969

Date of Death: 05 March 2002 (Presumed)

Rank or Rate: Petty Officer First Class

Years Served: 1988 - 2002
Neil Christopher Roberts

•  Afghanistan War (Operation Enduring Freedom) (2001 - present)


Neil Christopher Roberts grew up in the farm fields of Yolo County, CA. He was the quiet kid in a family of 12 children. Neighbors recall him as a nice kid – kind of a tough kid who didn't let things bother him. Although he wasn't big, he was scrappy. He graduated from high school in 1987 and left home at 18 to join the U.S. Navy.

During the Gulf War, Neil was in Guam working as an Aviation Technician with VQ-1 (Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadron One) as a aircrew member - it was at that time that he vowed to become a Navy SEAL. After becoming a Seal, Roberts was assigned to SEAL Team 2 based in Norfolk, VA.

In the late evening of 3 March 2002, PO1 Roberts was a member of one of the two SEAL teams inserted atop Takur Ghar mountain in Afghanistan, during Operation Anaconda. What ensued became known as the Battle of Takur Ghar and, for the U.S., the battle proved to be the deadliest entanglement of Operation Anaconda, an effort early in the war in Afghanistan to rout Taliban forces from the Shahi-Kot Valley and Arma Mountains. The battle saw three helicopter landings by the U.S. on the mountain top, each greeted by direct assault from Taliban forces. Although Takur Ghar was eventually taken, eight U.S. service members were killed and many wounded. In honor of the first casualty of the battle, Navy SEAL PO1 Neil C. Roberts, the battle is also known as the Battle of Roberts Ridge.

The Chinooks headed for Ginger, at the southeast corner of the valley, where American forces had met intense opposition two days before. As the choppers prepared to set down, they came under heavy fire from small arms and rocket-propelled grenades, one of which bounced, without exploding, off the armor of a Chinook. In the same bird, a hydraulic line was cut, and the pilots radioed back to Bagram that continuing with the mission would be suicide. Major General Frank (Buster) Hagenbeck, the force commander, agreed, and the choppers veered away to the north, climbing steeply. They found a place to set down and did a head count. On the damaged Chinook, one man was missing. They counted again. Navy SEAL PO1 Neil Roberts, the rear gunner who had been returning fire from the open back hatch, was no longer with his team.

Apparently jolted out the back of the Chinook where he had been returning fire from the open back hatch, it is not clear whether PO1 Roberts died immediately, or was killed by opposing fighters. There is a possibility that he was captured by Taliban fighters, and executed later with a single shot to the back of the head. (One of the feeds showed a group of 8–10 fighters huddling around what appeared to be a body; both GRIM 32 and MAKO 30 noted that an infrared strobe light (IR strobe) was active, a video feed showed the fighters passing the IR strobe around.) This report has not been confirmed. Major General Frank Hagenbeck did confirm that Taliban fighters were seen (on live video feed from a Predator drone orbiting the firefight) chasing Roberts, and later dragging his body away from the spot where he fell. Another feed from the same Predator showed a puff of heat [from a rifle] and the indistinct figure in front of it fall. Also, the quick-reaction soldiers reported fighters wearing Roberts' gear and finding "a helmet with a bullet hole in it, [from which] it was clear the last person [Roberts] to wear it had been shot in the head." Other reports have Roberts surviving for nearly an hour and inflicting serious casualties on opposing forces with his pistol and grenades before his death.

Medals, Awards & Badges

Silver Star Medal
Bronze Star Medal
Joint Service Achievement Medal
Navy & Marines Achievement Medal
Army Achievement Medal
Joint Meritorious Unit Award
Meritorious Unit Commendation
Battle "E" Award
Good Conduct Medal (4 Awards)
National Defense Service Medal
Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal
Southeast Asia Service Medal
Armed Forces Service Medal
Sea Service Deployment Ribbon (5 Awards)
NATO ISAF Medal (2 Awards)
Special Operations Insignia - SEAL
Naval Aircrew Badge

Silver Star Medal Citation

The President of the United States of America takes pride in presenting the Silver Star (Posthumously) to Aviation Boatswain's Mate First Class (SEAL) Neil Christopher Roberts, United States Navy, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action against the enemy while serving as a member of a special operations unit that conducted multiple insertions and combat operations deep behind enemy lines from 9 January to 5 March 2002. During this period, Petty Officer Roberts was assigned to a combined joint task force in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM. Petty Officer Roberts performed superbly during several, in-extremis, combat operations and rescue of personnel, deep in enemy-controlled territory while under fire from enemy forces. On 3 March 2002, his unit planned an operation in the Paktia Province in support of Operation ANACONDA, the largest combat operation against enemy forces to date. On that evening, his unit was to conduct a clandestine insertion onto a 10,000 foot mountain peak to establish an over watch position. As the helicopter moved into position for the insertion, Petty Officer Roberts positioned himself on the helicopter ramp in order to expeditiously exit the helicopter, minimizing the threat to the aircraft and crew. Without notice, his CH-47 helicopter received a rocket-propelled grenade exploding through the body of the aircraft. Hydraulic lines showered the metal ramp with slippery fluid as the aircraft lurched violently from the unexpected assault. Petty Officer Roberts was thrown from the ramp of the helicopter falling onto the enemy infested mountain top just feet below. He immediately maneuvered to establish a defensive position and make contact with rescue forces. He defiantly fought the overwhelming enemy forces, undoubtedly causing significant tolls to their numbers. Surrounded by superior fire power, he died on the battlefield from fatal combat wounds. Petty Officer Roberts' bold leadership, wise judgment, and complete dedication to duty reflected great credit upon him and were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

In Popular Culture

The story of the video game Medal of Honor (2010) centers around a fictionalized account of the Battle of Takur Ghar with the character "Rabbit" loosely based on PO1 Neil "Fifi" C. Roberts.

Remembrances by Friends

Friends remember Neil taking pictures of his son and that he was always tinkering with the black pickup truck parked in the front yard with a flat tire. He loved his wife, Patricia Page Roberts, and young son, Nathan, deeply and he loved being a SEAL. He could lift your spirits instantly with a quirky quote or a catchy phrase or when he flashed that great smile of his. Neil would want everyone to remember him as a loving husband and father, a loving son and brother, a true friend and warrior who never once questioned his commitment to his family or his country.


Navy SEAL Petty Officer First Class Neil Christopher Roberts is buried at Prospect Hill Cemetery in York, PA.


Honoree ID: 8285   Created by: MHOH




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