Sam and Karolyn Day receive the National Intelligence Medal for Valor from Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, left, on behalf of their son during a July 22 ceremony in McLean, Va. (Terri Moon Cronk / Defense Department)
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Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper, left, posthumously awards the National Intelligence Medal for Valor to Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Michael Strange's mother, Elizabeth Strange of Philadelphia, on July 22. (Terri Moon Cronk / Defense Department)
Day (Terri Moon Cronk / Defense Department)
Strange (Terri Moon Cronk / Defense Department)
Nearly two years after their deaths in Afghanistan, the director of national intelligence posthumously awarded two sailors the National Intelligence Medal for Valor.
Information Systems Technician 1st Class (EXW/FPJ) Jared William Day and Cryptologic Technician (Collection) 1st Class (EXW) Michael Joseph Strange became the 18th and 19th recipients of the award at a July 22 ceremony in McLean, Va., outside Washington.
The two were among 38 killed Aug. 6, 2011, when the CH-47 Chinook helicopter they were riding in was shot down while attempting to reinforce a unit of Army Rangers battling the Taliban in Afghanistan’s Wardak province.
Day was 28 years old; Strange was 25.
Though not SEALs, both were serving in intelligence roles while assigned to East Coast-based special operations units, according to information provided by Navy Personnel Command. Because of the nature of their work, the Navy doesn’t release the names of their units.
“For each of them, the courageous choice to ride to the sound of gunfire was one they’d made many times before,” National Intelligence Director James Clapper, a retired Air Force lieutenant general, told an audience in McLean when presenting the awards.
The accident was the largest single loss of American life during the Afghanistan campaign and the greatest single loss of life ever suffered by the U.S. special operations community, he said.
The sailors were being honored, he said, for “setting the example for our entire community” while serving “at an amazing nexus of the Navy, special operations and the intelligence community.”
Clapper presented Day’s award to his parents, Sam and Karolyn Day of Salt Lake City, and presented Strange’s medal to his mother, Elizabeth Strange, of Philadelphia.
The medal is the second-highest award given by the intelligence community and was created in 2008. Military personnel can wear the award in precedence order after any other personal and unit awards, but before any campaign or service medals.
The award’s criteria include “heroism and courage in connection with an [intelligence community] mission contribution to the national security,” according to an intelligence community directive. “The Medal for Valor will be awarded on a highly select and rare basis.”