Local SEAL played role in 'Lone Survivor' mission

This Navy photo shows five Navy SEALs honored on July 10, 2005, at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu and one surviving member of their group. They are, left to right, Petty Officer 2nd Class Matthew G. Axelson, 29, of Cupertino, Calif.; Senior Chief Petty Officer Daniel R. Healy, 36, of Exeter, N.H.; Petty Officer 2nd Class James E. Suh, 28, of Deerfield Beach, Fla.; Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Marcus Luttrell, who survived; Petty Officer 2nd Class Shane E. Patton, 22, of Boulder City, Nev., and Lt. Michael P. Murphy, 29, of Patchogue, N.Y.

U.S. Navy
Published: Monday, January 27, 2014 at 4:44 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 27, 2014 at 4:44 p.m.

Just in front of Van Fleet Hall at the University of Florida, a small plaque stands behind the flagpole.

Etched in its metal is a memorial to James Erik Suh, a UF alumnus and Navy SEAL who was killed during Operation Red Wings, a mission to take down a Taliban leader and rescue four Navy SEALs in Afghanistan.

On June 28, 2005, the MH-47 Chinook helicopter that was carrying the 28-year-old was shot down, and Suh lost his life.

But the little plaque outside the ROTC building is no longer the only tribute to the work of Suh and the other SEALs who died.

The film “Lone Survivor,” which was released in December, depicts the mission and the soldiers who attempted to carry it out. Suh was among them, and he is portrayed by actor Rich Ting in the movie.

The movie is based on the book “Lone Survivor.” The account was co-authored by Marcus Luttrell, who survived the mission. It was published in 2007.

Claudia Suh Bown, James’ sister, told The Sun in 2005 that her brother decided early in his life that he wanted to be a SEAL. When reached last week, she declined to comment on the film.

While Suh and other SEALs are being recognized on a cinematic scale, two local organizations are making sure that fallen military members are remembered.

The Gainesville Fisher House Foundation, which supports wounded soldiers, will hold a “Fallen Heroes 5K” run on March 29. The event is a joint project with the Navy-Marine Student Association.

Hank Murphy, a member of the Navy-Marine Student Association, said this is the seventh year for the run.

“It’s gotten bigger and bigger every year,” he said.

Murphy said some donations will go to the UDT-SEAL Association, which helps to take care of retired veterans.

He said the run will begin at the UF commuter lot, head down Gale Lemerand Drive and eventually end up near Lake Alice. It will loop back to the commuter lot.

Murphy said Suh is not as widely recognized on campus, and Suh is a factor in why the student association holds the run.

Suh graduated from UF in 2000 with a bachelor’s degree in statistics, and he joined the Navy in 2001. He was a member of ROTC while at UF, according to a Gainesville Fisher House Foundation news release.

“He’s definitely one of the big reasons we do this,” Murphy said.

Those who wish to participate can sign up at Active.com.

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