Petty Officer Stephen Toboz


Back on Takur Gar, the wounded helicopter limped about half a mile and made an emergency landing. Among the American Special Ops troops on board was Petty Officer Stephen Toboz. Stephen and his comrades charged into the snowy darkness and immediately set out to rescue their fellow SEAL. During the ensuing gunfight, the badly outnumbered Americans fought valiantly. Out of the nearly two dozen U.S. soldiers who set out to rescue PO1 Roberts, six were killed. Among the eleven more who were wounded was Stephen Toboz.

Ordered to pull back by his team leader, Stephen was hit by a Taliban bullet that tore a fist-sized hole in his right calf. The projectile then spiraled down his leg, shattering the bones in his ankle and foot. Hours later when he was finally evacuated off the frozen hilltop, “Tobo” was still shooting back at those who had tried to kill him. The U.S. doctors in Afghanistan saved his life. The doctors in Germany and back home in the U.S. tried to save his leg. But after multiple surgeries, Stephen figured he would get better faster without it. He ordered his doctors to amputate the leg below the knee. Remarkably, that didn’t end his career in the Navy. After being fitted with an ultramodern prosthetic limb, Stephen Toboz rejoined his team in Afghanistan. He says he did it because “Neal Roberts was my closest friend” and because “my parents taught me patriotism, duty, and determination.”

Today Stephen Toboz is retired, but he still trains SEALs as a civilian instructor. Since he no longer wears a uniform, unless his young students hear it from others who know the story, they might never know that Stephen Toboz has a metal leg and foot or that he was awarded our nation’s third highest award for valor—the Silver Star.

from the book American Heroes by Oliver North