Petty Officer 1st Class Nicolas D. Checque, age 28, has been identified as the SEAL Team 6 hero who died over the weekend rescuing a fellow American, Dr. Dilip Joseph, who was kidnapped by the Taliban in Afghanistan. Here’s what you should know about him.
1. He Was Highly Decorated
According to Wavy.com, Checque received the following awards and decorations (below) over his 10-year military career. Heavy.com has (above) created a representation of the way his awards would appear on his dress uniform, using the rack-builder on medalsofamerica.com. Each “V” device signifies an award that was given for valorous actions during combat.
• Bronze Star Medal w/Combat ‘V’
• Joint Service Commendation Medal w/Combat ‘V’
• Navy/Marine Corps Commendation Medal w/Combat ‘V’
• Navy/Marine Corps Achievement Medal
• Combat Action Ribbon (2)
• Good Conduct Medal
• National Defense Service Medal
• Iraq Campaign Medal
• Global War on Terrorism Service Medal
• Sea Service Deployment Ribbon
2. He’s from Monroeville, Pennsylvania
Checque lived in Virginia Beach but hailed from Monroeville, a suburb of Pittsburgh and home to 28,386 people (2010 census). The town also produced Lt. John F. Sattler, a Marine who became the director of strategic plans and policies for the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff.
3. He Was a High School Athlete
According to TribLive, Checque is a graduate of Norwin High School, where he was a member of the wrestling team.
4. He Was Killed by a Single Shot to Head
5. His Stepfather Died Last Year
Richard Strom, a 61-year-old project engineer for Integrated Mill Systems, passed away in October of last year. Checque’s mother, Sandra Strom, is now left to cope with the loss of both a husband and a son in a short period of time. Reached by Heavy.com, a close relative — through tears — confirmed the relationship and was obviously distraught with grief.
6. He Truly Saved a Life
Checque and his fellow SEAL Team 6 members truly saved the life of Dr. Joseph. Intelligence showed the kidnapped prisoner was in immediate danger of being executed.
7. President Obama Praised Checque as a Great American
In a speech about Checque’s sacrifice, the president said:
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.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta also lauded his service to the country:
I want to commend the U.S Special Operations team who rescued an American citizen captured by the Taliban in Afghanistan. I was deeply saddened to learn that a U.S. service member was killed in the operation, and I also want to extend my condolences to his family, teammates and friends. The special operators who conducted this raid knew they were putting their lives on the line to free a fellow American from the enemy’s grip. They put the safety of another American ahead of their own, as so many of our brave warriors do every day and every night. In this fallen hero, and all of our special operators, Americans see the highest ideals of citizenship, sacrifice and service upheld. The torch of freedom burns brighter because of them.
8. SEAL Team 6 is the Unit that Killed Osama bin Laden
It’s unknown if Checque was part of the mission that killed bin Laden, but he is a member of the SEAL Team 6, the ultra-elite unit that carried out the historic raid.
9. Several Taliban Were Killed in the Rescue Mission
The mission to rescue Dr. Joseph encountered heavy resistance, and a fierce firefight ensued. The SEALs, working with Afghan forces, killed seven Taliban fighters and captured two Taliban leaders.
10. Checque Was the Only American Killed in the Mission
Dr. Joseph was unharmed in the rescue — mission accomplished. But Checque made the ultimate sacrifice.