Anya Fernald, the CEO of California-based Belcampo Meat Co., looks over cuts of meat being cooked with the "asado" grilling technique in Uruguay. (ABC News)(MONTEVIDEO, Uruguay) -- Anya Fernald had been traveling for days, making the trip from her home in northern California to a place three hours outside of Montevideo, Uruguay, all for a taste of what she believes is the best barbeque in the world.
Fernald, a butcher, rancher and restaurateur, travels to Gaucho country, the land of the famous South American cowboys, to find inspiration for her cooking.
“The country of Uruguay is the land of meat and this is where it all starts,” she said.
But she’s not talking about a rib-eye steak or filet mignon.
“Seeing that fatty intestine and how it gave that great crust to the chorizo is amazing,” she said, watching two asaderos work the meat over an open flame. “We can definitely mess around with it.”
The Gauchos, Fernald said, have what a lot of people consider as the best grilling technique in the world, called “asado.”
“It’s going to be a very, very tender way of cooking because essentially it’s a slow smoke,” she said. “Asaderos is a very traditional role. They make the fire, they cook all the meat, they go very slowly and it’s really an all-day affair.”
Asado was originated by the Gauchos out on the range who would slaughter a steer and eat as much meat as they could for two days, everything from the loins to the off-cuts or offal, meaning intestines, heart, blood and brains.
“You eat the blood and the organs first and then the big cuts,” Fernald said, because the offal has a richer taste.
Their slow-cooking technique is what Fernald said enables the Gauchos to get a tasty meal out of cuts most Americans would reject.
“A lot of these cuts, in the American tradition, we would be cooking them with moisture, like braising them, because they’re kind of tough cuts,” Fernald said. “This way, with this very, very low heat, they’re essentially doing very slow cooking, which makes the flavor really come out.”
Since most of us don’t have 12 hours to make dinner, Fernald’s latest plan is to package these dishes and sell them back at home.
“Looks spectacular,” Fernald said, talking about the beef intestines stuffed with chorizo. “I think people will freak out about that.”
Believe it or not, Fernald was once a vegetarian, but said she then drank a gallon of whole milk a day and started eating only fatty meats and lost weight. Now she is all about the meat, and not just any meat, but raw and fatty meat from all parts of the animal – foods we’ve often been told to stay away from.
“My baby... teethed on lamb ribs and goat ribs, she loves goat,” Fernald said. “We eat a lot of raw beef at home. Raw beef was her first food when she was four months old. She loves it to this day.”
And Fernald is making it her business to get everyone else on board. Back home in California, she’s building a meat empire with a string of butcher shops and restaurants called Belcampo Meat Co., where they insist that meat is more than just chicken breasts and lean steaks.
“If you want to use the whole animal, heart is a very edible part of it,” said Bronwen Hanna-Korpi, President of Belcampo Meat Co. “It’s just high in protein, and low on fat, so it’s going to be a great way to get a boost of protein. It’s superfood.”
One of Fernald’s workers, Billie Joe, the apprentice butcher at Belcampo Meat Co.’s Santa Monica shop, was hard at work making “lardo butter” from pig fat.
“It’s insanely delicious,” she said. “It’s the craziest, yummy taste you didn’t know existed.”
Fernald scours the world in search of new recipes. She’s traveled to Northern Sweden where she tasted reindeer broth, and said it’s “the most delicious tasting broth” she ever had. Next up on her list? Southeast Asia, where she would like to search for the best way for making curry paste with fermented bison skin and then Scotland to try mutton.
While many of these dishes might sound unappetizing to the American palate, Fernald said that’s because we have lost touch with the way we should be cooking.
“I think that there are a lot of issues in America… that are related to us moving away from a historical way of eating,” she said.
In Uruguay, the best cuts of beef are exported all over the world, but locals save stringy cuts for themselves, and Asado is their secret.
“We would consider cuts that are too tough to grill and those are the basis of the whole grilling culture [in Uruguay],” Fernald said.
She knows it’s not for everyone, but she has already made progress. Her chef at her shop in Santa Monica said her raw lamb and lard on toast are already big sellers.
“Deliciousness wins,” Fernald said. “Conquer the heart through the stomach… make something really, really amazing tasting… make the change delicious.”
Stringer/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images(LONDON) -- A moment of silence was held across the United Kingdom on Friday to remember those who were killed in an attack on a beachside resort in Tunisia last week.
The June 26 attack at the Hotel Imperial Marhaba in Sousse, a popular resort town on the northeast coast of Africa, left 38 people dead, 30 of whom were British citizens on vacation.
Queen Elizabeth II, who is in Glasgow Friday, took part in the moment of silence while visiting the Scottish city.
So far, Tunisian police have arrested eight people suspected of being involved in the deadly attack. Two other suspects who trained in a Libyan jihadi camp alongside the 23-year-old gunman who carried out the massacre are also being sought.
ISIS has claimed responsibility for the attack, and the British government is now seeking Parliament's approval to conduct airstrikes against ISIS targets inside Syria.
iStock/Thinkstock(JERUSALEM) -- The Palestinian Authority is cracking down on Hamas militants in the West Bank.
In the biggest raid since 2007, Palestinian security forces overnight arrested more than a hundred members of the Islamic terror group across the West Bank -- in Bethlehem, Nablus and Hebron.
The massive crackdown comes after a surge in deadly West Bank attacks on Israelis that the Palestinian Authority believes Hamas carried out. Among other incidents, two Israeli civilians have been shot to death in the last two weeks.
HRH The Duchess of Cambridge via Getty Images(LONDON) -- Princess Charlotte, the first daughter of Prince William and Princess Kate, will be christened in the U.K. on July 5. The christening for the fourth-in-line to the British throne will be a family affair with unique details.
Here are five things to watch at the royal celebration:
1. Princess Charlotte Elizabeth Diana
The princess will be just three days past her two-month birthday on the day she is christened. The last time Princess Charlotte was seen in public was when she left St. Mary’s Hospital in London the day she was born, May 2. The only other glimpse of the newborn came in photos released last month, and taken by Duchess Kate, of Charlotte being held by her big brother, Prince George.
2. Who’s Who of the Royal Family
As with Prince George’s christening, at which the attendance was capped at 22, only immediate family, godparents and their spouses have been invited. The queen, Prince Philip, Prince Charles and Camilla will be joined by Kate's siblings, Pippa and James, and her parents, Carole and Michael Middleton. Prince Harry, Charlotte’s uncle, will miss the christening because he is spending the summer in Africa.
3. The Godparents
Prince William and Princess Kate are expected to announce Princess Charlotte's godparents this weekend. There is still speculation that Prince Harry could be chosen, despite his absence at the christening. With Prince George, Prince William and Princess Kate shifted from royal tradition by choosing only one royal to be among George’s seven godparents.
4. World-Famous Photographer
Recording the milestone in Princess Charlotte’s life will be none other than world-renowned photographer Mario Testino, tapped by Prince William and Princess Kate to take the official photographs of the christening party after Charlotte’s baptism. Testino, 60, also photographed William and Kate for their engagement photo and was chosen by the late Princess Diana, Charlotte’s grandmother, to photograph her for Vanity Fair.
5. Connection to Princess Diana
The church where Princess Charlotte will be christened on Sunday, St. Mary Magdalene Church, is the same church where her late grandmother, Princess Diana, was baptized in 1961. In choosing St. Mary Magdalene Church for Charlotte’s christening, Prince William and Kate are making a poignant nod to William's mother, as they did when they selected their daughter's name, Princess Charlotte Elizabeth Diana. The church is located on the Queen's Sandringham Estate. Diana was born at Park House at Sandringham and spent time there as a young child.
zabelin/iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- A U.S. drone strike has killed a top ISIS leader in charge of the terror group’s foreign fighter operations and moving people and supplies into Syria and Iraq.
The Pentagon confirmed Thursday that Tariq bin Tahar-Al-Awni-al-Harzi was killed in an airstrike in Syria on June 16, the day after his brother Ali was killed in another drone strike in Mosul, Iraq.
Ali bin Tahar-Al Awni-al Harzi was not only a top ISIS leader himself, but also a person of interest in the deadly 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
“His death will impact ISIL's ability to integrate foreign terrorist fighters into the Syrian and Iraqi fight as well as to move people and equipment across the border between Syria and Iraq," said Pentagon spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis in a statement. ISIL is another name used to describe ISIS.
A U.S. official told ABC News that the Tunisian al-Harzi was killed by a U.S. military drone strike.
“As an ISIL member, he worked to raise funds and recruit and facilitate the travel of fighters for the terrorist organization. Al-Harzi also worked to provide materiel to ISIL by procuring and shipping weapons from Libya to Syria for ISIL,” said Davis. “Additionally, al-Harzi also facilitated the use of suicide and vehicle-borne improvised explosive device attacks in Iraq.
His prominence in ISIS was why in May the State Department's Rewards for Justice Program set a $3 million reward for information leading to his death or capture.
Last week the Pentagon confirmed his brother Ali’s death in a U.S. airstrike on June 15.
Though a “person of interest” in the deadly September, 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi he was targeted because he was a ISIS battlefield commander, U.S. military officials said today.
He was designated from early on as a person of interest in the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. Consulate that killed four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens.
Analysis of video taken the night of the deadly attack placed him at the consulate and made him a person of interest, U.S. authorities said.
He was arrested in Turkey the following month when he and another man tried to enter that country with false passports. When he was deported to Tunisia, the United States pressed to interview him about his possible role in the consulate attack.
In December 2012, FBI officials were able to interview al-Hazri but he was released by Tunisian authorities a month later.
U.S. authorities believe he had tried to make his way to Syria.
New color images from NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft show two very different faces of the mysterious dwarf planet, one with a series of intriguing spots along the equator that are evenly spaced. (NASA)(NEW YORK) -- Several mysterious dark spots on the surface of Pluto have caught the attention of NASA researchers as the New Horizons probe makes its final approach to the dwarf planet.
Several spots are evenly spaced along Pluto's equator, with each having a diameter of about 300 miles, according to NASA.
"It's a real puzzle -- we don't know what the spots are, and we can't wait to find out," Alan Stern, principal investigator for New Horizons, said in a statement.
The spacecraft is scheduled to come as close as 6,200 miles from the surface of Pluto July 14, 2015, the closest any manmade object has come to the dwarf planet.
As New Horizons has closed in on Pluto, it's provided a closer look at Pluto's surface and its moons. In February, the spacecraft took two long-exposure images showing two of Pluto's moons, Hydra and Nix, orbiting the dwarf planet. It was the first time the space probe had gotten close enough to view the moons.
New Horizons blasted into space atop an Atlas V rocket in January 2006. Pluto at the time was still considered a planet, with scientists later that year voting to demote its status to that of a dwarf planet.
After a sleepy nine years, the probe woke up in December 2014 from the last of its 18 hibernation periods as it prepared for its initial approach toward Pluto.
Miguel Villagran/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- An investigation has been launched into the death of a 22-year-old contractor this week at a Volkswagen plant in Germany after an industrial robot grabbed him and crushed him against a metal plate, officials said.
"Earlier this week a contractor was injured while installing some machinery in the Kassel factory. He died later in hospital from his injuries and our thoughts are with his family," a Volkswagen representative told ABC News Thursday in a statement. "We are of course carrying out a full investigation into the incident and cannot comment further at this time."
Prosecutors are also investigating the case to determine if any charges should be filed, according to German media reports.
iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- As President Obama proclaimed diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba for the first time in 50 years, the World Health Organization (WHO) was simultaneously celebrating Cuba Wednesday as the first country ever to eliminate mother-to-child transmissions of HIV/AIDS and congenital syphilis.
Dr. Roberto Morales, minister of public health and the first Cuban minister to come to the United States since 1952, visited Washington, D.C., to discuss the historic success. He cited medical development and research as spearheading the effective public health practices.
While the monumental public health achievement was the intended focus of his news conference, Obama’s news was critical to the process.
“We believe that re-establishment of relations with the United States will allow us to exchange experiences and knowledge,” Morales said.
Even with U.S. sanctions against Cuba, the nation managed to develop one of the best health care systems in the region. Minister Morales cited a focus on primary care and inter-sector cooperation as the catalysts.
“Cuban Health Care has its main strength in primary care,” Morales said.
The country has one family doctor for every 1,095 inhabitants. The success Cuba achieved with HIV and congenital syphilis is a product of this strong primary care.
For four years, congenital syphilis cases have been kept between 0 and 0.04 percent per 1,000 live births, while the rate of mother-to-child transmission of HIV has remained at or below 2 percent for the past three years, according to Cuban officials.
“Cuba has made great efforts to ensure access to free retroviral treatment to those requiring it,” Morales said, which is essential to Cuba’s successful eradication of the transmission of HIV from mother to child.
HIV-positive women who take antiretroviral medication during pregnancy can reduce transmission risk of HIV to their babies to less than 1 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
With Wednesday’s momentous proclamations, Morales hopes normalized relations will help showcase his country’s global initiative and will emphasize common international health goals.
“I believe this is a formula for the building of a better world to which we have all been called, for there is a need to preserve the human species,” he said of a global health partnership.
Leonardo Pereira (NEW YORK) — Leonardo Pereira said he admits to being afraid the first time he ever allowed himself to dangle from the almost 3,000-foot cliff of Pedra da Gavea in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
"The first time I was a bit scared," Pereira told ABC News. "I just sit down, but the next time I hang off and make Victoria get [do] the same thing."
Pereira, 23, said he met his girlfriend Victoria Nader, 18, while rock climbing in Rio.
In fact, Pereira said, one of the couple's very first dates was hiking to the top of Pedra da Gavea.
"She was a bit afraid to sit down there, but I said 'There's no problem,'" Pereira recalled.
The pair said they consider themselves avid adventurers who have made some daredevil moves in the midst of their travels including: rappelling down a 230-foot building, hiking to the top of the 9,488-foot mountain Pico da Bandeira, and, of course, dangling off the edge of Pedra da Gavea — one of the highest mountains in the world that juts above an ocean.
The couple's heart-stopping traveling photos have received a great deal of onlookers visiting their Instagram pages — @leonardopereira1 and @victorianader1.
Leonardo Pereira While there has been skepticism on whether the snapshots were merely photoshopped, Pereira insisted that every image is 100 percent real.
"There's no rope, just my arm and [I] trust myself," he said. "We love living on the edge, it's make us alive and make us challenge ourselves."
"We love adrenaline and adventure things, there's no time or weather that stop us," Pereira added. "I think that everyday someone call us crazy, but I think crazy [isn't] someone that you won't like. There's a quote that inspires me a lot: "'If you think adventure is dangerous, try routine; it is lethal'"
Pereira said his and Nader's next wild adventures will include an African safari and diving with great white sharks.
Navy SEAL Lt. Commander Erik Kristensen died trying to rescue his fellow SEALs in the Operation Red Wings disaster 10 years ago. (Kristensen Family)(NEW YORK) -- When Ed and Suzanne Kristensen first heard about a Chinook helicopter being shot down in eastern Afghanistan on June 28, 2005, at first they feared for their Navy SEAL son Erik, who was deployed there at the time, but were reassured by a Navy friend that he likely wouldn't have been aboard.
"Someone said Erik wouldn't be on the helo,” recalled his mother, who goes by Sam.
It was a matter of seniority. Lt. Commander Erik Kristensen was a senior commander in SEAL Team 10 in Afghanistan and didn’t go on as many ground combat operations as those in the platoons under him.
"But he was on the helo," his mother told ABC News, as the family marked the tenth anniversary of Erik's death in Operation Red Wings last weekend.
A decade after the incident, Erik Kristensen, by many accounts an unconventional SEAL, remains a largely unknown figure in the public telling of one of U.S. special operations' most tragic -- but also most celebrated, for valor -- incidents in its history, despite bestselling books, websites and last year's hit movie Lone Survivor.
Kristensen was the one who organized a rescue mission after a SEAL reconnaissance team's leader, Lt. Michael Murphy, called for help well into a firefight in Kunar province's soaring mountains. As the task unit commander for SEAL Team 10, in which Murphy served, Kristensen decided to personally lead an assault force by helicopter to his last known location, where the younger officer had been tasked with finding a militia leader named Ahmad Shah.
But militants were waiting in ambush and shot down an Army MH-47E Chinook chopper as Kristensen and his men were preparing to fast-rope to the ground, killing all 16 aboard.
"There are some things you just don't delegate," Ed Kristensen said of his son’s fateful action, at times welling up with emotion. Even after a decade, his only child's loss "is still a very raw thing. You can't change it, you've got to live with it. But we think about it all the time."
Ed Kristensen is a retired rear admiral who had led the Navy's 1996 recovery of TWA 800 which had crashed off New York with 230 souls lost. The news about the chopper crash came while the Kristensens were, coincidentally, attending the retirement of a Navy diver in Norfolk who had served under Ed during the recovery of the passenger jet in the ocean. When the commander of Naval Special Warfare called him to say they were searching for Erik and the others, his father assumed the worst.
"With my experience with TWA 800, I knew what an aircraft crash does to people. We knew that we had lost him," the older Kristensen said.
Soon they learned that their son Erik was among those killed in action.
The fact that the task unit commander had personally led the mission with seven other highly experienced SEAL operators in broad daylight to rescue Murphy's team and kill Shah -- the leader of the "Mountain Tigers" local militia who Murphy had been sent to locate on the Pakistan border -- didn't surprise those who knew Kristensen.
"Erik did what any SEAL would do: go help SEALs in trouble," Navy Capt. Kent Paro, who led SEAL Team 10 at the time and was Kristensen and Murphy's commander in Afghanistan, told ABC News last week.
The only SEAL to make it out of the Red Wings incident alive, Navy Petty Officer Marcus Luttrell, went on to write the bestseller Lone Survivor, which became a major motion picture of the same title last year.
Kristensen, 33, was portrayed in the film by Australian actor Eric Bana in a relatively small part. His unusual personality and fateful heroism has remained largely unknown in public compared to Luttrell and Murphy's legend, despite courageously leading the ill-fated rescue mission.
For his actions, Kristensen, who was on his first major combat deployment in Afghanistan, earned the Bronze Star with "V" (Valor) device. Murphy, 29, of Patchogue, Long Island, also was killed in action and received a posthumous Medal of Honor from President George W. Bush. The Navy named a guided missile destroyer for him.
A SEAL in Birkenstocks
Lone Survivor included a shot of Kristensen’s Birkenstock-clad feet trudging out of his quarters after Murphy's call for help is received in the tactical operations center in Jalalabad. Friends such as John Ismay, who wrote appreciatively about this detail in the New York Times last year, say that was a subtle tribute to Kristensen as a genuine "non-conformist," who didn't fit the Hollywood stereotype of coldly conservative SEAL warriors.
"That was the one part of the movie that I enjoyed. That's who Erik really was," said Jason Redman, who served in SEAL Team 10 as an officer with Kristensen at the time of the Operation Red Wings disaster and had once been in Murphy's platoon.
"Erik leaned to the left. He was liberal in his thinking. Guys gave him a lot of grief but he was witty about it," Redman, author of The Trident: The Forging and Reforging of a Navy SEAL Leader, said in an interview.
Kristensen attended Washington's Gonzaga College High School. He rowed crew, played lacrosse and majored in English and French at the Naval Academy and got a master's degree at progressive St. John's College in Annapolis. Standing 6' 4", he is remembered as gregarious and embraced a Jesuit ideal by being a "Man For Others," friends and family said.
“He’s a person all those Jesuits wanted us to be,” said Ismay, a fellow Gonzaga graduate.
"The complexity of who he is, to me, is bigger than his being a SEAL. He was wickedly smart, but more on the creative side. He could play the trumpet, he could sing, he could write," recalled his first cousin, Jennifer Casey.
"Erik was funny as hell, always one of the boys," Marcus Luttrell wrote in his book Lone Survivor.
Ariann Harrison was an old friend in Washington who said he was sweetly absent-minded, once showing up for a swing dance class in flip-flops and yet "he made it work." They only discussed his SEAL career once -- when he told her he was going to Afghanistan.
"Before he left, I tried to convince him not to go," she said. "From a loyalty standpoint, he said he trained those guys and he was going."
In July 2005, a few weeks after the crash of “Turbine 33,” the callsign of the MH-47E that Kristensen and 15 other SEALs and Task Force 160 “Nightstalker” special operations airmen perished aboard, a squad of paratroopers and Rangers descended the steep slope, charred black from burning jet fuel, with tree trunks sheared off from the exploding chopper.
A glimmer of metal caught a Ranger’s eye and he picked up a stainless steel dogtag bearing not a name but the Army’s Warrior Ethos: “I will always place the mission first. I will never accept defeat. I will never quit. I will never leave a fallen comrade.” The determination to not leave their fallen comrades was true of all 16 in Turbine 33 -- and was a promise fulfilled by their Jesuit-taught commander, Kristensen.
In unpublished photos taken by an Army photographer of the crash site, blackened tree stumps poke up from the flattened slope. Ammunition magazines for M4 rifles, springs and un-fired cartridges litter the sooted ground. Paratroopers held up a pair of Oakley mirrored sunglasses with one lens missing, a flight crew helmet torn open, a bent and flattened tactical flashlight and the lining of a SEAL's helmet they found on the ground.
The Taliban had pilfered the site, as well as the remains of Murphy -- they even stole his wristwatch -- and fellow SEAL operators Matthew Axelson and Danny Dietz in another location down the mountain in the forest. Later, militants would display captured U.S. weapons and laptop computers in a video. Night-vision goggles, weapons and helmets from both sites were recovered over the next two years from Taliban fighters killed in firefights and found in arms caches in the Korengal Valley. The militia leader, Ahmad Shah, was killed a few years later.
A photo of a Ranger’s gloved hand holding the dogtag imprinted with the Warrior Ethos sits framed in the Kristensen’s home, but until this month, his parents had never seen the rest of the crash site photos. Looking over the grim images for the first time, after an ABC News reporter provided them, Sam Kristensen said if conditions were ever safe enough and she had the opportunity to walk the ground where her son and his fellow warriors perished, "I'd be on the next plane -- a mother wants to know everything."
"I would've hated it if anyone had been killed on that recovery mission," she said after viewing the grim scene the young paratroopers had to sift through in July 2005. But seeing the site, even so long after, was helpful. "It will always be 'yesterday.' Ten years doesn't make any difference."
To cope with the catastrophic loss, she long ago befriended other moms who lost children inside the Pentagon on 9/11 and in Operation Red Wings, and a few years ago began volunteering to be an "Arlington Lady," a liaison to families of the fallen during Navy funerals at Arlington National Cemetery near their home on Capitol Hill.
"It is very redeeming thing. You are giving solace to someone other than yourself, and yet you are helping yourself," she said.
Ed Kristensen, quiet and soft-spoken, said he doesn't need to see that mountainside in Afghanistan to ease his grief, because he knows that Erik "was doing what he wanted to do. He could say that. That's how I remember him."
But they have grown weary of the past decade's seemingly endless tributes and memorial services for those lost in Operation Red Wings and the brutally violent Lone Survivor movie, which they watched three times at special screenings for families of the fallen. They participate in a golf tournament in Erik's name that helps military kids attend Gonzaga but the annual event they truly enjoy is "E-Day," a simple bar-b-que in Maryland hosted by Jennifer Casey and her siblings that brings together Erik's friends, family, Naval Academy classmates and SEAL teammates.
"Next year, I'm giving him up," Sam Kristensen said, half joking, of future tributes for her son. They only attended one memorial dinner in San Diego last week to mark the tenth anniversary of the Red Wings tragedy and turned down other invites to ceremonies. "It gets tiring. Physically, emotionally. We've hated to say no because people are very kind,” Sam said. Remembrance in the Rain
As torrential rains in Maryland saturated a softball field and playground on Saturday, the friends of Erik retreated into an open air pavilion, where drenched children darted in the mud between adults laughing over "that one time" Erik had done this or joked about that, while the admiral donned an apron and flipped burgers on a grill. Kristensen’s cousins led the Pledge of Allegiance and a former SEAL who served with the mourned guest of honor strummed a guitar in sing-alongs.
Jarret Roth, a Naval Academy buddy, said Kristensen was excited about joining his girlfriend in Paris in 2006 after his Afghanistan deployment for an Olmsted Foundation Scholarship to attend the Institute for Political Studies and was thinking beyond his time in the SEAL teams. Kristensen once told Roth, "I don't know about this whole SEAL thing. Running around in the woods is kind of cool once in awhile, camping is kind of cool once in awhile. I don't know if I want to do this the rest of my life."
"Erik was probably the furthest from what you would have thought of a Navy SEAL. He was a bit of a chucklehead. A down to earth, happy-go-lucky guy," Roth said. "He was a very a selfless guy."
Kristensen's mother said swapping stories over beers and burgers is probably how the man his friends call the "gentle giant" would've preferred his life be celebrated, since he thought funerals were ridiculous and didn't even fill out the forms for his burial preferences, which most troops do. His parents buried Kristensen -- wearing his beloved Birkenstocks -- at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, which his father had also graduated from three decades earlier.
"We're so over this. I find it all really strange, all the hero talk. He was such a total goofball," remembered his friend Ismay, who graduated the academy a few years later and whose older brother served as a SEAL with Kristensen.
Kristensen applied but wasn't selected for Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL school out of the academy. He served as a surface warfare officer at sea before finally making it through BUD/S at 26, considered an "old man" and just under the wire of the SEALs' age cut-off.
"Because he entered the teams a little later than his peers, he was a strong and humble leader. He could relate to the most junior guy and to a general or admiral," Paro said. "He was just a wonderful person. He was well-read and intelligent, into music and literature. He was a non-conformist."
"But he wasn't a non-conformist just to be a non-conformist," Ismay explained. "Erik was just his own man. He really didn't give a damn."
Kristensen's example of leadership and valor has become legend among the midshipmen of the Naval Academy.
However unusual a personality he had, those who knew him agree that he fell in battle personifying the words stamped into that dogtag picked up by the paratrooper in the grime of Turbine 33's wreckage ten years ago. "I will never leave a fallen comrade,” it read. Erik Kristensen and the fallen of Turbine 33 did not.
His vibrant personality appeared to live on as a powerful presence as his friends convened for the ninth time since 2005 on Saturday, shouting to be heard over the din of the downpour and laughing louder than the rain.
Smiling as he looked over the crowd and placing his hand on the shoulder of a first-time E-Day guest, his father Ed said, "He's amongst us all, right here."