Navy SEAL from western Pa. killed during mission to rescue U.S dr.from Taliban

Posted: 1:47 PM EST Dec 11, 2012   Updated: 1:53 PM EST Dec 11, 2012
Nicolas Checque

The U.S. soldier who lost his life during a daring mission to rescue an American doctor from the clutches of the Taliban has been identified as a Navy SEAL Team Six member from Pennsylvania.

The Pentagon said the SEAL killed during the weekend rescue mission in Afghanistan was Petty Officer 1st Class Nicolas D. Checque of Monroeville, near Pittsburgh.

He was among members of SEAL Team Six, which freed Dr Dilip Joseph of Colorado Springs, Colorado, who was abducted on Wednesday.

A Defense Department statement said Checque, 28, died of combat-related injuries but gave no further details of the mission.

Checque's friends and former teachers remember him as a driven person and weren't surprised he would be willing to sacrifice himself.

'I can jut remember him at the end of practice never slowing down,' said Michael Choby, a former wrestling teammate. 'He had a military style haircut all though high school . He was interested in, as far as I can remember, going into the military after graduation.'

Former teammate Todd Schuchert could only say: 'I am exteremely privileged just to have known him.'

A former instructor said Checque was always willing to go all the way for what he believed was right.

'It was not surprising that he would give his life for something he believed in that strongly,' Doug Knipple, a former teacher, told WTAE.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that Checque was a 2002 graduate of Norwin High School, where he was on the wrestling team.

He was awarded a bronze star as well as several other military accolades in his 10-year military career.

Checque was reportedly shot in the head as he and other members of Team Six exchanged gunfire with the militants holding Joseph captive.

It is the same team that killed Osama bin Laden last year, but it's unclear whether Checque was on the bin Laden mission.

The military says the adviser for Colorado Springs-based Morning Star Development was abducted last week and rescued after intelligence showed he was in imminent danger of injury or possible death.

President Obama mourned Checque on Sunday, calling him a heroic and dedicated soldier.

'Yesterday, our special operators in Afghanistan rescued an American citizen in a mission that was characteristic of the extraordinary courage, skill and patriotism that our troops show every day,' Obama said in a statement.

'Tragically, we lost one of our special operators in this effort. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family, just as we must always honor our troops and military families,' he said.
Gone too soon: Checque, pictured in a high school yearbook photo, died of combat-related injuries suffered during the operation to rescue Dr Joseph

'He gave his life for his fellow Americans, and he and his teammates remind us once more of the selfless service that allows our nation to stay strong, safe and free.'

Dr Joseph was working for U.S.-based NGO Morning Star with two others when he was taken hostage.

The other two men, who were not identified, were freed several hours before the mission to rescue Dr Joseph.

'This was a combined operation of U.S. and Afghan forces,' said 1st Lt Joseph Alonso, a spokesman for US forces in Afghanistan. 'Information was collected through multiple intelligence sources, which allowed Afghan and coalition forces to identify the location of Joseph and the criminals responsible for his captivity.'

U.S. General John Allen, commander of NATO-led foreign forces in Afghanistan, said in a statement on Sunday that he ordered the mission when intelligence showed that Joseph was 'in imminent danger of injury or death.'

'Today's mission exemplifies our unwavering commitment to defeating the Taliban," Allen said.

'I'm proud of the American and Afghan forces that planned, rehearsed and successfully conducted this operation.'

'Thanks to them, Dr. Joseph will soon be rejoining his family and loved ones.'