According to the Pentagon, Chief Special Warfare Operator Collin Trent Thomas, 33, a native of Morehead, Ky., was fatally shot during combat operations in eastern Afghanistan on Wednesday. Thomas was forward deployed to Afghanistan as part of an East Coast-based Navy SEAL Team. East Coast SEAL teams are based at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek - Fort Story in Virginia Beach.
"Collin Thomas was a brave American patriot and an incredibly gifted Navy SEAL. 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," said a senior officer in his command. "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."Thomas is survived by his parents Clayton and Paula, who live in Hertford, 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 of Chief Petty Officer Collin Thomas. Our thoughts are with the entire Thomas family during this very difficult time," said LT Arlo Abrahamson, Public Affairs Officer, Naval Special Warfare Group TWO. "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."
The Navy says Thomas was a highly-decorated combat veteran and received numerous awards and citations during his 13-year Navy career, including 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; Afghanistan Campaign Medal with two campaign stars; Iraq Campaign Medal; Marksmanship medals with "expert" service device for both rifle and pistol, and a multitude of personal, 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 Training Command at Great Lakes, Illinois. After completing basic training, Thomas remained at the Great Lakes training center for technical instruction before reporting to Coronado, California to participate in Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training. BUD/S is the first step in becoming a Navy SEAL and is six months of some of the most demanding training in the U.S. military.
Upon graduation from BUD/S, Thomas was assigned to his first SEAL team where he participated in numerous joint exercises and developed his skills as a Special Warfare Operator. Since February of 2000, Thomas has been assigned to various East Coast based SEAL teams where he made several deployments in support of Overseas Contingency Operations, distinguishing himself during numerous combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Rest in peace.