Former Navy SEAL reacts to fallen soldiers returning home

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - The military has launched an investigation into the helicopter crash that killed 30 U.S. troops on Saturday.

The probe will address the decision to send that Chinook helicopter to a firefight to assist troops on the ground in Eastern Afghanistan.

The remains of those servicemen arrived at Dover Air Force Base Tuesday. President Obama and top Pentagon officials privately honored the fallen troops.

The incident is the single deadliest loss for U.S. Forces in the decade-old war.

A local former Navy SEAL said we should be proud of the amazing work the SEALs and other special forces are performing on the ground in Afghanistan.

Jonathan Sanchez knew and previously fought alongside some of the Navy SEALs killed in Afghanistan this past weekend.

He left the SEALs after six years of intense operations to join the private sector here in Cincinnati. Sanchez said the SEALs never leave you.

Flags fly at half-staff outside his home.

"I think we should all take a moment as a country to think about those men that have died for us," Sanchez said.

He's been out of the Navy SEALs for nearly a decade, but said you never entirely lose touch.

"I think you always have a piece of that in your heart," Sanchez remarked. "You always know there's guys out there doing great things behind the scenes for America, gives you a great perspective on life."

Sanchez lost old comrades in the Afghanistan attack.

"There's a couple guys I did serve with," he lamented. "Very sad."

"When you hear news like that, it's very tragic," he said. "You immediately, as a SEAL, think of the families, what they could be going through at that time. It's one of those things you can never forget if it happens to you and you immediately go to that place in your mind."

Sanchez has lost several SEAL peers to war.

"They died tragically, but they lived heroically," he said.

It is a sad and sobering reality.

"Unfortunately, I've buried a few friends in Arlington over the past few years," he said, like good friend Doug Zembeck.

"He was a great reminder of America and what we stand for," Sanchez said proudly.

"It's very difficult to make any judgements," Sanchez said. "A lot of people want to armchair quarterback what happens thousands of miles away. It is very high-impact, very high-energy environment, in which decisions have to be made in the thousandths of a second."

He wants people to consider all of the excruciating missions the SEALs have completed, which you never hear about.

"There's a silent pride to the community," Sanchez said, which is the hallmark of the SEAL teams.

"Understand that these guys are the tip of the spear," he said. "These guys are absolutely incredible, the best warriors out there, very sad and tragic loss for the country, it's a very personal loss for all those that are tight in that community."

Sanchez was inspired by both grandfathers and his father, all who were military men.

"This is Alex Kozlowski," he said pointing to a photograph of a smiling Navy man on his fireplace mantle. "He was a Chief Petty Officer in the Navy, a World War Two Veteran Submariner. He was an incredible guy, an incredible mentor to me and to my brothers, who also served in the military."

And to give back, Sanchez held a fundraiser at this home, with lots of former special forces soldiers, to help local wounded vets back in April, through the Yellow Ribbon Fund.

"That's General Stanley McCrystal and his wife Annie McCrystal and they were kind enough to be here," he said proudly pointing out the super-decorated war hero.

"We'll continue to do things like this for our community," he said.

In one day, Sanchez and company helped raise more than $40,000 for local wounded veterans.

The Department of Defense did announce Tuesday that none of those Navy SEALs who took part in the Osama Bin Laden raid and killing were among those who were brought home to Dover Air Force Base.

To learn more about Sanchez's efforts with the Yellow Ribbon Fund visit And for more on the Yellow Ribbon Fund, visit

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