ARLINGTON (CBSDFW.COM) – Americans across the nation are mourning the loss of 30 fallen heroes. The troops died in Afghanistan on Saturday morning after Taliban fighters shot down their helicopter with a rocket-propelled grenade.
Most of the troops who died were Navy SEALs who were rushing to rescue a U.S. Army Ranger unit that was under attack – a typical mission that happens every week. But now, authorities want to find out what went wrong, and how the mission ended in tragedy.
Chief Petty Officer Matt Mills was one of the 30 Americans who died during the helicopter attack. The North Texan was aboard the Chinook helicopter when it was reportedly shot down.
Now, the 35-year-old Arlington man is being remembered as a hero. Mills grew up in the area and graduated from Martin High School. Mills was on his last mission, his family said, when the helicopter came down.
“He served his country with pride,” recalled cousin J.B. Abbott. “He loved his brothers he fought with.”
Mills had spent the last 10 years of his career as a Navy SEAL. He was a humble hero, his family said, one who loved serving his country. “He never bragged about being a SEAL,” said Abbott. “He never bragged about the missions he was on.”
The Taliban is claiming responsibility for shooting down the Chinook, which government officials are now investigating. “If we’re going to question something, we’ll question why it was a Chinook helicopter,” explained CBS News military analyst Maj. Mike Lyons. “The Chinook helicopters are big, lumbering, noisy. Not the Blackhawk. Not getting in and out quickly.”
Meanwhile, family members are still struggling with the devastating news. “I didn’t want to believe it, but the guys were here,” said the soldier’s brother. “It was pretty evident that it was serious when they showed up.”
The call to duty was, perhaps, instilled in Mills at an early age. His family said that he was inspired to serve in the military just as his grandfather did in World War II. His family now mourns his loss, but also celebrates his life and dedication to his country.
“He’ll always be remembered as a very loving person, said sister Ashley Mills. According to the family, Mills will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.
Mills was just married a few months ago. He leaves behind a wife and 1-year-old son.