By Karen Dandurant
Hampton Union, Tuesday, May 2, 2006
[Photo not in original article]
EXETER -- Just about one year after his death, Navy SEAL Dan Healy, a son of Exeter, was again honored at Pearl Harbor for his service to his country.
Senior Chief Petty Officer Daniel R. Healy was killed June 28, when his MH-47 Chinook helicopter was shot down in the rugged mountains of eastern Afghanistan.
There was a ceremony in Hawaii last week where the state awarded medals of honors to Dan and other soldiers and sailors connected to Hawaii.
There is a also a memorial statue to the Pearl Harbor SEALs being planned for Pearl in about a year, and other memorial ceremonies when the date - June 28, commemorating the first anniversary nears.
Natalie Healy, Dan's mother, said the state of Hawaii was wonderful to her family during the original memorial after Dan was killed and it remains so today.
"We are very proud they honored Danny and his comrades in that manner," said Natalie. "The awards honored about 120 families."
Healy died on a rescue mission that took him straight into the heart of al-Qaida country, in an attempt to save the lives of four Navy SEALs whose lives were in danger and had radioed for help.
Healy, and the 15 soldiers and sailors with him were killed in the treacherous rescue mission. He had volunteered for the mission.
Natalie couldn't make the ceremony. She did attend the memorial at Pearl Harbor right after the incident.
"There will be a memorial to the fallen SEALs at Pearl when the statue is ready, in about a year," she said. "I hope by that time to be able to get funds together for that."
On a more personal note, Natalie said she has good days and bad days still.
Natalie spoke out after another mother who lost a son, Cindy Sheehan, began protesting the war and asking President Bush to bring the troops home.
Natalie had the opposite reaction. She spoke in support of the president and said her son believed in what was doing.
"After a while the more I got to talk about him it eased me, comforted me," said Natalie. "It was because I got to talk about him. I am still receiving requests to speak at quite a few memorial events. The Hampton VFW [Legion Post 35] was so supportive. They asked and no question, I will be there. My daughter Shannon will be speaking in Rye and I will also go to [Hampton Beach,] Hampton Falls, [Hampton] and North Hampton."
Natalie is also busy putting together a golf tournament. Money raised will be used to start a scholarship fund for an Exeter graduate and will also be used to help Danny's family. He left behind a wife and two little girls, ages 6 and 8, who live in Hawaii.
"They are doing pretty well," said Natalie. "The 8-year-old understood what was happening and was inconsolable but they have a wonderful family that surrounds them and protects them and they do their best. I try to go see them as often as I can."
The first Dan Healy Memorial Golf Tournament will take place on June 12, at 8 a.m., at the Sagamore Golf Course in North Hampton.
The tournament will honor his memory and the sacrifice he and his fellow sailors and soldiers made. Anyone interested in participating can call John Carberry at 749-9236 or e-mail at: DanHealyMemorialGolf@hotmail.com.
On Friday, Natalie and a group of volunteers were busy stuffing envelopes with fliers about the event, soliciting support for the tournament from area businesses.
"It has been a fascinating journey since this whole thing happened," she said. "I'd give it all back in a second to have Dan back on this earth, but his memory will serve others and his legacy is that many people will benefit from this little boy, from this little town in New England, dying in the Himalayan mountains of Afghanistan."
Some friends of Dan Healy, Buck Buchanan and Jill Mercer held a golf tournament in Dan's memory last month in Washington state.
"He used to train for cold-water dives there and they all became friends," said Natalie. "When they learned his funeral was in San Diego, Buck and Jill drove down because Buck doesn't fly. They thought the world of him. Buck, a big, burly guy, said your son was my hero.
"So, they put on a golf tournament in Dan's name. You had to play in flip-flops and borrow someone else's clubs, because that's how Dan played. His sister Jennifer was there and all the prizes they gave out were donated back for the kids."