WASHINGTON (WAVY) - The Department of Defense announced Friday that a HamptonRoads-based SEAL was killed in combat supporting Operation EnduringFreedom.
According to the Pentagon, Chief Special Warfare Operator CollinTrent Thomas, 33, a native of Morehead, Ky., was fatally shotduring combat operations in eastern Afghanistan on Wednesday.Thomas was forward deployed to Afghanistan as part of an EastCoast-based Navy SEAL Team. East Coast SEAL teams are basedat Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek - Fort Story in VirginiaBeach.
"Collin Thomas was a brave American patriot and an incrediblygifted Navy SEAL. His tireless professionalism, inspiring passionfor life, and humble demeanor made him a role model for all whoknew him. We are deeply saddened by this tremendous loss of abrother in arms," said a senior officer in his command. "Our heartsand prayers go out to the Thomas family during this very difficulttime, and we will never forget the ultimate sacrifice that Collinmade while protecting our nation and his teammates."
Thomas is survived by his parents Clayton and Paula, who live inHertford, North Carolina, his sister Meghan of Morehead, Kentucky,and his fiancée Sarah Saunders of Virginia Beach.
"The Naval Special Warfare community is grieving the loss ofChief Petty Officer Collin Thomas. Our thoughts are with the entireThomas family during this very difficult time," said LT ArloAbrahamson, Public Affairs Officer, Naval Special Warfare GroupTWO. "Despite this incredible loss, Collin's teammates will remainresolved in their fight against terrorist elements in Afghanistan,because they know that's what Collin would have wanted."
The Navy says Thomas was a highly-decorated combat veteran andreceived numerous awards and citations during his 13-year Navycareer, including two Bronze Star Medals with combat "V"distinguishing device; a Purple Heart; a Joint Service CommendationMedal with combat "V" distinguishing device; a Navy and MarineCorps Commendation Medal; Six Navy and Marine Corps AchievementMedals; Two Combat Action Ribbons (Operation Enduring Freedom andOperation Iraqi Freedom); Four Good Conduct Medals; the NationalDefense Service Medal; Afghanistan Campaign Medal with two campaignstars; Iraq Campaign Medal; Marksmanship medals with "expert"service device for both rifle and pistol, and a multitude ofpersonal, unit, and campaign decorations.
Thomas graduated from Rowan County High School in 1995.Following high school, Thomas attended Morehead State University.He enlisted in the U.S. Navy on February 20, 1997.
His military career began when he reported to Recruit TrainingCommand at Great Lakes, Illinois. After completing basic training,Thomas remained at the Great Lakes training center for technicalinstruction before reporting to Coronado, California to participatein Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training. BUD/S is the firststep in becoming a Navy SEAL and is six months of some of the mostdemanding training in the U.S. military.
Upon graduation from BUD/S, Thomas was assigned to his firstSEAL team where he participated in numerous joint exercises anddeveloped his skills as a Special Warfare Operator. Since Februaryof 2000, Thomas has been assigned to various East Coast based SEALteams where he made several deployments in support of OverseasContingency Operations, distinguishing himself during numerouscombat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
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