On a bitter February morning, a somber reminder of the ultimate price a valiant Navy SEAL made for his country.
Today, 37-year-old Senior Chief Thomas Valentine was laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery. Fellow SEALs, his parents, wife and 2 young children, a little girl and boy were there to say goodbye.
Chief Valentine, a highly decorated special warfare operator died on February 13, 2008. He was killed in Arizona during a parachute training operation.
Navy Chaplain Lieutenant Timothy Springer said, “I don’t know the why or the how, but I do know the who, Tom was a warrior. And I know the what, day in and day out he fought valiantly.”
Three volleys were followed by the sound of taps and then quiet as the flag that had been draped over Senior Chief Valentine’s coffin was presented to his wife and another to his parents, with some final words of hope and comfort for a brighter tomorrow.
A memorial fund has been set up in Senior Chief Valentine’s name. Donations can be made in person or by mail to any Navy Federal Credit Union.
“Senior Chief Valentine was one of the finest SEALs I have ever known,” Capt. Scott Moore, commander, Naval Special Warfare Development Group, said in a news release. “He served our country with valor during multiple tours to Afghanistan and Iraq.
“A role model, mentor and incredible leader, Tom epitomized what we as SEALs strive for, a complete commitment to excellence.”
Valentine enlisted in the Navy in 1989 and entered SEAL training the following January. In November 1990, he reported to an East Coast-based SEAL team and served with such teams for the remainder of his career. He is survived by a son and a daughter.
He had been awarded dozens of military awards and honors, including three Bronze Stars for valor, multiple commendation medals and a number of good conduct medals.
“This is a stark reminder that what these warriors do on a daily basis is very dangerous, both on and off of the battlefield,” Lt. David Luckett, a Naval Special Warfare spokesman, said in the statement. “It’s incredibly important for them to train like they’re going to fight to ensure success on the battlefield. This premise demands potentially dangerous training evolutions.”
On a more personal note, I feel that I am a better person for having known the man and been blessed enough to call him a friend.
We’re gonna miss you Val.