Former Navy SEAL and Silver Star recipient Douglas “Mike” Day, who suffered 27 gunshots while deployed to Iraq in 2007, has died.
“We mourn the loss of an outstanding Naval Special Warfare teammate, former Senior Chief Mike Day,” a Naval Special Warfare Command spokeswoman said in an email to Navy Times. “His courage and grit formed the standard we uphold in the community today, and we will always remember his service to the special operations community.”
Day, who was serving as assault force commander for Naval Special Warfare Task Unit-Fallujah in April 2007, and his team were tasked with capturing a high-ranking member of al-Qaida during a combined helicopter-borne direct action mission.
According to his Silver Star citation, Day was the first of his team to enter the room where enemy insurgents were located and engaged in heavy automatic weapons fire.
“Despite multiple gunshot wounds, he continued to engage the enemy, transitioning to his pistol after the loss of his primary weapon, eliminating three enemy personnel without injury to the women and children in close proximity to the enemy personnel,” the Silver Star citation says.
“Additionally, his decisive leadership and mental clarity in the face of his injuries ensured the success of the mission which resulted in the destruction of four enemy personnel and the recovery of sensitive United States military equipment and valuable intelligence concerning enemy activity in the area,” the citation says.
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Day’s sustained 16 shots to his body, including his abdomen, arms and legs, while his body armor took another 11 shots. He also was also struck with grenade shrapnel. His initial recovery lasted two years, although he shared in his 2020 memoir “Perfectly Wounded” that he still struggled with pain.
“I didn’t even know how bad I was hurting until they came in, and I saw the looks on their faces,” Day told Coffee or Die Magazine in 2020 about his teammates finding him after the attack. “We all know that look.”
In addition to the Silver Star for “for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action,” Day’s military awards include two Bronze Stars — including one with combat valor — and a Purple Heart, according to Day’s releasable materials obtained by Navy Times.
The Silver Star is the third-highest combat decoration for valor awarded to service members in the Navy and Marine Corps, just under the Medal of Honor and the Navy Cross.
Day’s memoir also detailed his journey with post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury due to his military service.
“Over my life, I’ve had a lot of trauma, and I have acquired the mindset that I don’t care what happens,” he told Coffee or Die. “When it happens, I’ll just figure it out.”
Day enlisted in the Navy in 1989 and retired in 2010. He later served as a wounded warrior advocate for U.S. Special Operations Command.