Died June 28, 2005
Operation Enduring Freedom
Assigned to SEAL Team TEN, Virginia Beach, Virginia
While carrying out Operation Red Wings on June 28, 2005, LCDR Kristensen led a daring mission to rescue a four-man SEAL reconnaissance squad engaged in a fierce firefight with overwhelming Taliban forces in rugged 10,000 ft. mountains. Kristensen, seven other SEALs, and eight Army “Nightstalker” commandos died in the heroic attempt when their MH-47 Chinook helicopter crashed after it was shot down by a rocket-propelled grenade. A total of 11 SEALs died that day in the Global War against Terror, being the largest single loss of life for Naval Special Warfare forces since WWII.
Erik was a gifted writer and quick learner. He graduated with honors from the Naval Academy in 1995. Erik joined in the footsteps of his father, retired Rear Adm. Edward Kristensen. Kristensen subsequently taught at the Naval Academy and attended graduate school prior to transferring to BUD/S. His first assignment was as Officer in Charge of a SEAL Platoon at SEAL Team EIGHT. In March 2005 Kristensen deployed to Afghanistan as a Task Unit CDR for SEAL Team TEN to support the U.S. Global War on Terror.
Erik enjoyed reading Shakespeare, Melville, and poetry of many kinds. He lived blocks from the ocean in Virginia Beach and enjoyed being on the water. Erik was rarely without his favorite pair of sandals: Birkenstocks. He was even buried with a pair on his feet.
Fellow service members remember Erik Kristensen as an intelligent and selfless leader with whom it was an honor to serve. He was a good man, and a good friend, who succeeded everywhere he served. Erik embodied the best of all of us: humor, intelligence, wit, perspective, friendship, and above all, love for life.
LCDR Erik Kristensen was 33 years old from San Diego, California
Original portrait was presented October 25, 2014 at the American Airlines Sky Ball event held in Dallas, Texas.