Rank Insignia Previous Honoree ID Next Honoree ID

honoree image
First Name: Matthew

Last Name: Axelson

Birthplace: Cupertino, CA, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Navy (present)


Middle Name: Gene

Date of Birth: 25 June 1976

Date of Death: 28 June 2005

Rank or Rate: Petty Officer Second Class

Years Served: December 2000 – June 2005
Matthew Gene Axelson

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


Matthew Gene "Axe" Axelson (June 25, 1976 – June 28, 2005) was a United States Navy SEAL who was killed in the War in Afghanistan. He was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross for his actions during Operation Red Wings, in which he was killed.

Axelson was born on June 25, 1976 in Cupertino, California, to Donna and Cordell Axelson. He graduated from Monta Vista High School in 1994 and attended the California State University in Chico, where he earned a degree in political science.

Axelson enlisted in the United States Navy in December 2000, entering basic training at Naval Station Great Lakes. After completing Sonar Technician Surface (STG) "A" School, he was selected to attend Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training and graduated with Class 237 in Coronado, California. After BUD/S, Axelson attended Army Airborne jump school, SEAL Qualification Training and SEAL Delivery Vehicle School. He reported to SEAL Delivery Vehicle Team 1 in December 2002 in Hawaii. He was deployed to Afghanistan in April 2005.

Operation Red Wings

On June 28, 2005, SEAL Team 10 was assigned to kill or capture Ahmad Shah, a high ranking Taliban leader in the Hindu Kush mountains. The SEAL team was composed of Michael P. Murphy, Marcus Luttrell, Danny Dietz and Axelson.

Their position given away by locals supportive of the Taliban, the SEALs were engaged in a fire fight by Shah and his men. During the fire fight, Axelson was shot in the chest and head but continued to fight alongside Luttrell until a blast from a rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) separated them. Along with injuries sustained from the blast, Axelson died of bullet wounds to the chest and head. When U.S. Navy personnel arrived to retrieve his body for burial, they found that it was a few hundred yards away from the RPG blast location. Axelson was reported by Luttrell to have had three magazines remaining when the blast took place, however, when his body was found, he had only one magazine remaining, which indicated that Axelson continued to fight even after the blast.

Along with Axelson, Murphy and Dietz also died during the fight. Luttrell managed to survive his injuries and acute hardships with help from local Pashtun villagers. For their heroism in combat, Axelson and Dietz were posthumously awarded the Navy Cross, the U.S. Navy's second highest award for valorous actions in battle. Murphy was awarded the Medal of Honor. Luttrell, the single survivor of the operation, was also awarded the Navy Cross.


Axelson was awarded the Navy Cross, Purple Heart Medal, the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, the Navy Good Conduct Medal, the Combat Action Ribbon, the National Defense Service Medal, the Afghanistan Campaign Medal with bronze campaign star, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and the Navy Sea Service Deployment Ribbon.

Honoree ID: 8423   Created by: MHOH




Honoree Photos

honoree imagehonoree imagehonoree image

honoree imagehonoree image

honoree image