Story by Max Hauptman • 5h ago
Douglas “Mike” Day, a highly decorated U.S. Navy SEAL who survived being shot 27 times while deployed to Iraq, passed away earlier this week on March 27. Day served 21 years in the Navy and later worked as an author and an advocate for wounded military veterans.
Mike Day with his dog Herja (left) and during training on Pineros Island, Puerto Rico. Photos via @mikeday5326/Instagram.© Provided by Task & Purpose
On April 6, 2007, Day was nearing the end of a deployment to the Anbar province of Iraq, and leading his SEAL platoon on a raid against an al Qaeda cell in the city of Fallujah. With two Iraqi scouts behind him, Day breached the door of a room and was immediately struck with multiple bullets, knocking his rifle out of his hands.
“I took a left-hand turn and they just started shooting at me,” Day said on the Team Never Quit podcast in 2020.
Falling to the ground, Day transitioned to his pistol and shot one of the four terrorists in the room. As a second man pulled the pin on a grenade and began running towards the hallway, Day killed him as well. The grenade fell to the ground and detonated, wounding Day with the shrapnel. He briefly lost consciousness, but when he awoke he continued engaging the other men in the room, shooting them with his pistol even as he was struck yet again multiple times from less than 10 feet away with AK-47 fire.
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“After I realized that I actually was getting shot, my second thought was, ‘God get me home to my girls,’ and then extreme anger,” Day told Fox News in 2015. “Then I just went to work. It was muscle memory. I just did what I was trained to do.”
Though improbable, Day was still alive, directing several Iraqi scouts to guard a group of women and children who had been found in the building, and using the radio of fellow SEAL Joseph “Clark” Schwedler — who was killed during the raid — to make contact with the rest of his team.
It was only then that Day realized the extent of his injuries. Sixteen bullets had torn through his abdomen, arms, legs, groin, and buttocks. Another 11 had been stopped by his body armor.
“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. “We all know that look.”
Day was soon evacuated from the battlefield, first to Baghdad, then to Landstuhl, Germany, and eventually to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, walking to the MEDEVAC helicopter without assistance.
“I wasn’t being macho, but I was afraid if they picked me up, it would just hurt more,” Day recounted to Coffee or Die Magazine.
Day later retired from the Navy in 2010, having been awarded the Navy Cross, two Bronze Stars, and the Purple Heart. He later went on to work for seven years as a wounded warrior advocate for U.S. Special Operations Command. Day’s autobiography, “Perfectly Wounded” was published in 2020.
“When you go through something together, or similar, it’s a bond, even if you didn’t do it together,” Day told Coffee or Die Magazine in 2020. “The resiliency that’s built into people after they go through trauma is incredible.”