Chief Special Warfare Operator Collin Trent Thomas was fatally shot Aug. 18 during combat in Afghanistan, where he was forward-deployed as part of an East Coast-based SEAL Team. (Navy)
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Injuries sustained in combat in Afghanistan took the life of a Navy SEAL on Wednesday, the Navy announced Friday.
Chief Special Warfare Operator Collin Trent Thomas, 33, was fatally shot during combat operations in eastern Afghanistan. Thomas was forward-deployed to Afghanistan as part of an East Coast-based Navy SEAL Team.
Thomas was the 33rd member of the Naval Special Warfare community, including both SEALs and Naval Special Warfare support personnel, killed in action since 2001.
"Collin Thomas was a brave American patriot and an incredibly gifted Navy SEAL," said a senior officer in his command who declined to be named. "His tireless professionalism, inspiring passion for life, and humble demeanor made him a role model for all who knew him. We are deeply saddened by this tremendous loss of a brother in arms.
"Our hearts and prayers go out to the Thomas family during this very difficult time, and we will never forget the ultimate sacrifice that Collin made while protecting our nation and his teammates," the senior officer said.
Thomas, a native of Morehead, Kentucky, graduated from high school in 1995, went on to attend Morehead State University and enlisted in the Navy on Feb. 20, 1997, according to Naval Special Warfare Group 2 spokesman Lt. Arlo Abrahamson. Following basic training and follow-on technical instruction at Great Lakes, Ill., Thomas reported to Coronado, Calif., for Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training.
Since February of 2000, Thomas had been assigned to various East Coast-based SEAL teams, making several deployments in support of overseas contingency operations and distinguishing himself during numerous combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, Abrahamson said.
During his 13-year Navy career, Thomas was awarded two Bronze Star Medals with combat "V" distinguishing device; a Purple Heart; a Joint Service Commendation Medal with combat "V" distinguishing device; a Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal; six Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals; two Combat Action Ribbons (Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom); four Good Conduct Medals; the National Defense Service Medal; the Afghanistan Campaign Medal with two campaign stars; the Iraq Campaign Medal; marksmanship medals with "expert" service device for both rifle and pistol; and a multitude of personal, unit, and campaign decorations.
Thomas is survived by parents Clayton and Paula, of Hertford, N.C.; his sister Meghan of Morehead, Ky.; and his fiancée Sarah Saunders of Virginia Beach, Va.
The family has chosen not to make a statement, Abrahamson said. At the family's request, a private memorial service will be held next week at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story, Va.
"The Naval Special Warfare community is grieving the loss of Chief Petty Officer Collin Thomas," Abrahamson said. "Our thoughts are with the entire Thomas family during this very difficult time. Despite this incredible loss, Collin's teammates will remain resolved in their fight against terrorist elements in Afghanistan, because they know that's what Collin would have wanted."
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