A Navy SEAL from Falmouth, Maine, has been killed in Somalia, according to the U.S. Department of Defense.
Senior Chief Special Warfare Operator Kyle Milliken, 38, was killed during an operation against al-Shabaab, an al-Qaida-linked organization, in a remote area approximately 40 miles west of Mogadishu.
He was assigned to an East Coast based special warfare unit.
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Milliken is the first U.S. combat death in Somalia since the 1993 "Black Hawk Down" incident.
"We do not believe there has been a case where a U.S. service member has been killed in combat action in Somalia since the incident there in 1993," U.S. Africa Command spokesman Patrick Barnes said Friday. The United States pulled out of Somalia after that incident in which two helicopters were shot down in the capital, Mogadishu, and bodies of Americans were dragged through the streets.
In a statement, the U.S. Africa Command said Millilken was killed Thursday during the operation near Barii. The Pentagon said two other service members were wounded.
The U.S. special operations troops came under fire after U.S. aircraft delivered Somali forces to the target area, a Pentagon spokesman, Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, told reporters. He said the U.S. troops were "a distance back" from the compound which had been "associated with some attacks on facilities that we use and that our Somali partners use nearby."
Davis said the U.S. has been working with the Somali National Army to counter al-Shabab since 2013 with the goal of "degrading this al-Qaida affiliate's ability to recruit, train and plot external terror attacks throughout the region and the United States."
Rep. Chellie Pingree released a statement saying "our hearts are heavy" with the loss of Milliken.
"Those who knew Senior Chief Kyle Milliken remember him as an amazing athlete who could do flips on skis and run for miles. He graduated from Cheverus High School as one of their top track stars. After his college graduation, he felt the call to serve and enlisted as a U.S. Navy SEAL. For many years, he operated with the elite Seal Team 6. We will forever be grateful for Senior Chief Milliken’s selfless service to our nation and his commitment to a cause bigger than himself. Our thoughts and prayers are with the entire Milliken family and those who knew Senior Chief Millken from his early days in Falmouth. May we never forget his extraordinary bravery and incredible sacrifice," Pingree said.
Maine Governor Paul LePage also issued a statement addressing Milliken's death.
"On behalf of all Mainers, to the family and loved ones of Senior Chief Special Warfare Operator Kyle Milliken, there are no words that may provide comfort during this difficult time, but know he is a man we are forever indebted for his service, sacrifice and protection of the freedoms we hold dear. The First Lady and I send our deepest condolences to his family and our prayers are with you," said LePage.