updated 7/9/2005 2:58:58 AM ET 2005-07-09T06:58:58

The loss of 18 elite servicemen in the deadliest single attack on U.S. troops in Afghanistan will only strengthen the military’s resolve to fight terrorism, the commander of the Navy SEALs said Friday.

Eight Navy SEALs and eight members of the Army’s 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment were killed June 28 when a rocket-propelled grenade hit their MH-47 Chinook. Also killed were two SEAL commandos they were trying to rescue.

Rear Adm. Joseph Maguire of San Diego, head of the Naval Special Warfare Command, spoke following a memorial service at Little Creek Amphibious Base for the 10 SEALs who died — the special force’s greatest loss ever. He said the fallen SEALs and Army air crewmen did not die in vain.

“These men bravely and unselfishly answered the nation’s call to defend freedom,” Maguire said.

Six of the SEALs were based at Little Creek and were eulogized at the service, which a base spokesman said was attended by 2,600. The service was closed to the media.

The 16 troops on the helicopter were responding to a call for help from four SEAL commandos on reconnaissance in the rugged Afghan mountains who were attacked by a force of militants. One of the commandos survived and is hospitalized in Germany, and one is still missing.

The Chinook left in daylight to search for the commandos. The 16 aboard would have known that was risky, the admiral said, but loyalty to their teammates was the overriding factor.

“It’s not the way we want to do it, but we would do it again,” he said.

In Georgia, more than 800 people attended a service Thursday at Hunter Army Airfield in Savannah for the soldiers who died.

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