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Operation Anaconda

Sgt. David Hruban

In March 2002, during a battle called Operation Anaconda in Afghanistan, a Navy Seal named Neil Roberts fell from a helicopter as it attempted to land on a mountaintop controlled by al Qaeda fighters.  "Rescue On Roberts Ridge" is the untold story of the soldiers who were sent in to find Roberts and bring him home. Reported by "Dateline NBC's" Stone Phillips, the special two-hour broadcast, airing on June 11th (7:00 PM, ET), presents a minute-by-minute account of what those soldiers faced when their own chopper was shot down.  For the first time on television, viewers will be able to watch, just as the U.S. commanders did that day, spy plane footage of the downed chopper as the enemy closed in. 

Phillips interviews many of the soldiers, from the ground troops who describe the extremely difficult fighting conditions to the general in command who acknowledges the flawed plans and failed communications that led to the events on Roberts Ridge.  The story focuses on Ranger Captain Nathan Self, whose courage under fire earned him a Silver Star, and on one of his men, Specialist Oscar Escano, who recalls how he lived his life that day in fifteen second intervals, the time it took enemy fighters to reload, aim and fire their mortars. 

A heavy price was paid on that remote mountaintop, but the U.S. soldiers' pledge to never leave a fallen comrad was never in question.  The performance of these men, most of whom had never been in combat before, was truly remarkable.  The "Dateline" report also tells the story of families back home who reached out with prayers for all of the soldiers, and whose love has helped to heal the psychological scars of war.

Marc Rosenwasser is the executive editor of "Rescue on Roberts Ridge." Tim Gorin is the producer; Robert O. Allen is the editor; Natasha Lebedeva is the field producer; Melanie Jackson and Biju Mathew are the associate producers; and Adam Wald is the assistant producer. David Corvo is the senior executive producer.