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Jessica Buchanan, Osama bin Laden, and Other Heroic Navy SEALs Moments (PHOTOS)

From rescuing Jessica Buchanan to killing Osama bin Laden, see the SEALs at their best.

U.S. Navy / Getty Images

Navy SEAL Team 6 has become the pop culture shorthand for Special Forces. From the raid that killed Osama bin Laden,to a daring raid on Somali bandits to rescue Jessica Buchanan, an aid worker held captive for three months, to launching psychological warfare against Manuel Noriega, see the SEALs at their best.

(L-R) Danish Refugee Council / Handout / Newscom ; Handout / AP Photo

Jessica Buchanan Rescue

Navy SEAL Team 6 sneaked into Somalia to free American citizen Jessica Buchanan from pirates in January 2012. Buchanan, who worked with the Danish Refugee Council’s Danish Demining Group, had been abducted by Somali bandits on Oct. 5, 2011, along with Poul Hagen Thisted, a Danish aid worker. When intelligence emerged in January that Buchanan’s health was deteriorating, President Obama gave the order to organize a rescue mission. On Jan. 25, members of SEAL Team 6 parachuted into northern Somalia and stormed the camp, killing nine kidnappers and rescuing both hostages. President Obama said of the raid, “As commander in chief, I could not be prouder of the troops who carried out this mission, and the dedicated professionals who support their efforts. The United States will not tolerate the abduction of our people, and will spare no effort to secure the safety of our citizens and to bring their captors to justice.”

Aqeel Ahmed / AP Photo

Killing Osama bin Laden

SEAL Team 6 probably gained the greatest notoriety for the daring raid that killed al Qaeda mastermind Osama bin Laden on May 1, 2011. A team of 23 SEALs spent two weeks preparing for the mission before traveling to Afghanistan. Split into two groups, the SEALs flew in specially adapted Black Hawk helicopters to bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. Although one helicopter crashed as it landed near the house, none of the SEALS was killed during the mission. Despite the world’s shock over the raid, the SEALs were not fazed. One SEAL said, “This wasn’t a hard op. It would be like hitting a target in McLean [the upscale Virginia suburb of Washington D.C.].”

Jason R. Zalasky, U.S. Navy / AP Photo; Sayyid Azim / AP Photo

Rescue of Capt. Richard Phillips

The Navy SEALs were responsible for the rescue of the captain of merchant ship Maersk Alabama on April 12, 2009. Somali pirates had been holding Capt. Richard Phillips hostage in a small lifeboat that had run out of fuel, and the pirates were agitated, repeatedly threatening to kill the captain. The SEALs shot the pirates from a military ship, even as their small boat was moving in the rough seas. Navy Vice Adm. Bill Gortney called them “phenomenal shots—75 feet away.” The SEALs killed the three pirates, took a fourth into custody, and rescued Phillips.

U.S. Navy / AP Photo

Munitions Cache Afghanistan

U.S. Navy SEALs investigate a cache of munitions in one of more than 70 caves explored in the Zhawar Kili area of eastern Afghanistan Jan. 14, 2002, in this image released by the U.S. Navy Sept. 18, 2002. The mission was one of about 75 carried out by the 1,300 U.S. commandos in Task Force K-Bar and their counterparts from seven countries under the command of Commodore Robert S. Harward. (AP Photo/U.S. Navy)

U.S. Navy

Munitions Cache Discovery in Afghanistan

During the invasion of Afghanistan, the SEALs were tasked with investigating more than 70 caves in a ravine close to the Pakistan border and found weapons, supplies, and intelligence information. When the SEALs were forced to extend the mission, they survived on supplies they’d found in the caves.

Gregory Bull / AP Photo

22 SEALs Killed in Helicopter Crash

Not all Navy SEAL missions have ended in success. On Aug. 6, 2011, Afghan insurgents shot down a U.S. helicopter in Wardak, Afghanistan, killing eight Afghans and 30 Americans, including 22 Navy SEALs, many of whom belonged to SEAL Team 6. The SEALs had been on their way to provide backup to troops involved in a firefight in eastern Afghanistan, and after the crash the same troops left the battle in order to provide perimeter security for the crash site. President Obama said, “Their deaths are a reminder of the extraordinary sacrifices made by the men and women of our military and their families, including all who have served in Afghanistan.” It was the largest loss of life in a single day in SEAL history.

In this photo, a hearse arrives at Rosecrans National Cemetery carrying the body of Navy Petty Officer First Class Jesse D. Pittman, on Aug. 30, 2011. Pittman had been aboard the helicopter.

Douglas Healey / AP Photo

8 SEALSs Die in Afghanistan Reconnaissance Mission

On June 28, 2005, insurgents in Kunar province shot down a helicopter carrying troops on a rescue mission. The crash killed 16 members of the Special Forces, including eight Navy SEALs. It was the deadliest military crash in the Afghan War until the aforementioned helicopter crash in August 2011.

In this photo, family and friends attend a prayer service for one of the victims in Washington, Ct.

U.S. Navy / AP Photo

Michael A. Monsoor Saves Comrades

Michael A. Monsoor was part of a Navy SEAL team in Ramadi, Iraq, when he died on Sept. 29, 2006, after throwing himself on a grenade to save his comrades. The grenade hit Monsoor in the chest before it fell to the ground in front of him. Another soldier who was in the group said, “He never took his eye off the grenade, his only movement was down toward it. He undoubtedly saved mine and the other SEALs’ lives, and we owe him.” President Bush awarded Monsoor the Medal of Honor.

Matias Recart / AP Photo

Operation Nifty Package

During the U.S. invasion of Panama in 1989, the SEALs were sent to find and capture dictator Manuel Noriega as part of Operation Nifty Package. To prevent his escape, the SEALs destroyed his jet and boat, and offered a $1 million reward for his capture. Noriega hid in the Vatican diplomatic mission in Panama City, where the SEALs tracked him. In order to draw him out, the SEALs subjected him to days of psychological warfare, playing loud pop music around the clock, which helped lead to his eventual surrender.

AP Photo

Operation Urgent Fury

In October 2003, SEAL Team 6 was dispatched to Grenada to rescue the country’s governor-general, who had been ousted in a coup and faced execution. Although four members of the team drowned during their initial offshore drop, the mission was successful. During their escape, heavy gunfire forced the SEALs to swim out to sea, and it took the Navy six hours to find and retrieve them.