On August 6, 2011, the Taliban shot down a CH-47 Chinook helicopter in Afghanistan, call sign Extortion 17, carrying a Special Operations forces (SOF) team of 30 American warriors and a military working dog, along with seven Afghan commandos and a civilian interpreter. All perished in what was the largest single-day loss of life in Operation Enduring Freedom and in the history of U.S. Naval Special Warfare. Will Thomas, a schoolboy from Virginia moved by the courage of the fallen and a commitment to aid their loved ones, launched Operation Hawkeye (OHe) to honor the 8.6.2011 heroes and rally support for their families, through sport. In 2013 he expanded the mission to encompass fallen warriors of all branches of SOF, and to support those left behind in the wake of their passing.
OHe unites the general public with the SOF and basketball communities to close an awareness gap regarding the sacrifices of SOF warriors and needs of their families. The mission honors the fallen, informs others of their heroism, and advances actions that support America’s elite warriors and their families. OHe is not a nonprofit, but rather works closely with and augments the efforts of organizations such as the Navy SEAL Foundation, Air Commando Association Foundation, That Others May Live Foundation, Red Circle Foundation, MARSOC Foundation, and others. The mission also engages key elements of the nation’s basketball community, ranging from youth and high school athletes and coaches to NBA teams and professionals. Other mission team members include enterprises of every scale – from community establishments to national businesses – as well as media figures and writers.