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Eight years ago, about 7,000 miles away from his triathlon debut in Haines City, Florida, Senior Chief Day survived 27 rounds of enemy gunfire at close range — and a grenade blast. He was almost left for dead, yet managed to walk to a rescue helicopter.


“How is that even possible?” said Jared, a Navy petty officer first class who was on the same mission in Iraq and requested that his last name not be used for security reasons. “Even to me — a guy that was a SEAL for 10, 11 years and saw multiple combat situations, it doesn’t even make sense. But I was there, so …”


He was almost left for dead, yet managed to walk to a rescue helicopter


According to documents and interviews with three SEALs who were on site that night, Day’s SEAL team was scheduled to go home in a week and a half. But it had one final mission: to take out an Al Qaeda cell that had shot down two U.S. Marine helicopters.


Just before midnight on April 5, 2007, Day’s unit landed a few kilometers from a single-story building in Anbar Province, Iraq, about 12 miles northeast of Fallujah. By the time the 22-member assault team reached the target on foot, it was 1:33 a.m.


Already, the U.S. had intercepted enemy communications about U.S. forces landing, “so they were ready,” Day said. “As soon as I breached that room, four of them opened up on me.”


Day’s M4 rifle was immediately shot out of his hand. Day grabbed his pistol and shot one man.


“A second guy pulled a pin on a grenade and was trying to run out of the room. I shot him,” Day said. The grenade exploded and knocked Day unconscious.


Two members of the Iraqi Army with the U.S. forces also tried to enter, but two men with AK-47s were still shooting at the door jamb. The No. 2 man behind Day was shot in the chest and survived. The No. 3 guy behind Day was shot and killed in the doorway.


28 USA TRIATHLON SPRING 2015

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