Two highly decorated local Navy SEALs died Thursday night from injuries sustained in fierce fighting against insurgents in Afghanistan, according to the Navy.
Senior Chief Petty Officer John Marcum, 34, and Petty Officer First Class Jason Freiwald, 30, died in a battle with heavily armed militants, the Navy said. The men were deployed from the highly selective Naval Special Warfare Development Group at Dam Neck Annex in Virginia Beach.
Capt. Scott Moore, commanding officer of the development group, said the deaths were “tremendous losses.”
“These men were true warriors, dedicated to their country, their fellow SEALS and the cause for which they were fighting,” Moore said in a statement. “They died taking the fight to the enemy, going in harm’s way with the selflessness that resonated in their character and made them giants among men.”
Marcum and Freiwald are the second and third sailors from Development Group to be killed in Afghanistan within three weeks. Petty Officer First Class Josh Harris, 36, drowned on Aug. 30 while crossing a river on a combat mission.
Marcum, a native of Flushing, Mich., had received four Bronze Star medals, among numerous decorations. He joined the service in August 1991. After basic training, he attended the Navy and Marine Corps Intelligence Training Center at Dam Neck. He then went to basic SEAL training, and took his first permanent post with SEAL Team 2 at Little Creek Naval Amphibious Base.
Marcum began training for the Naval Special Warfare Development Group in March, 2000. He had deployed numerous times.
He is survived by his wife, Cynthia, and a daughter, Madison. He is also survived by his parents, Wayne and Luellen Marcum, and his sister, Kaylee Pierle.
Among his many citations, Freiwald, a native of Utica, Mich., was a Bronze Star recipient. Tuesday, he was to have been promoted to chief petty officer.
After graduating from basic SEAL training, his first permanent duty was with SEAL Team 5 at Coronado Naval Amphibious Base in California. In March 2005, he began training with the development group.
After completing training, he received orders for Naval Special Warfare Tactical Development and Evaluation Squadron 2. He is survived by his wife, Stacey, and a daughter, Jasmine. He is also survived by his parents, Richard and Terri Freiwald.