David Tapper was born on August 16, 1971. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy on November 27, 1989, and completed basic training at NTC Orlando, Florida, in January 1990. He next attended Photographer's Mate training at NAS Pensacola, Florida, from February to May 1990, followed by Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training at NAB Coronado, California, from May 1990 to February 1991. After completing Jump School at Fort Benning, Georgia, in March 1991, Petty Officer Tapper served with SEAL Team THREE at NAB Coronado from March 1991 to March 1997. He next attended training at Naval Security Group Detachment Monterey, California, from March to December 1997, and then served with Naval Special Warfare Development Group at Dam Neck, Virginia, from January 1998 until he was killed in action in Afghanistan on August 20, 2003. During this time he deployed to Afghanistan in the early stages of Operation Enduring Freedom in 2001 and 2002, was deployed to Iraq for the initial invasion force there in 2003, and was one of the rescue team members that repatriated Army PFC Jessica Lynch, who was being held as a Prisoner of War inside Iraq. David Tapper was buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
HIs 1st Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal Citation reads:
For professional achievement in the superior performance of his duties as Training Cell Petty Officer assigned to SEAL Team THREE from September to December 1995. Petty Officer Tapper performed his duties in an exemplary and highly professional manner. Demonstrating superb management and uncompromisingly high standards, Petty Officer Tapper assured the flawless execution of four back to back combat swimmer courses culminating in the direct supervision of ninety Naval Special Warfare operators and over 800 hazardous training dives with superlative results. In addition, Petty Officer Tapper was a primary instructor for a comprehensive Close Circuit Diving Course of Instruction for 32 Special Operations foreign nationals during exercise EASTERN EAGLE 95. Along with his multifaceted instructor and diving supervisor duties, Petty Officer Tapper skillfully coordinated the use of surface and air fleet support assets, simulated ordnance, and MK6 Counter Insurgent Swimmer System in all combat swimmer courses to ensure all operators were challenged by the most realistic training scenarios short of war. Petty Officer Tapper's superior safety record, attention to detail and professionalism acumen make him a cornerstone to the war fighting ability of the command. His diligent efforts and resourcefulness inspired all who observed him and contributed to the accomplishment of SEAL Team THREE's mission. Petty Officer Tapper's professionalism and devotion to duty reflected great credit upon himself and were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.