The Navy SEAL Command on Saturday named the SEAL lost in Somalia Friday as Senior Chief Special Warfare Operator Kyle Milliken, 38, of Falmouth, Maine.
He was killed in a firefight against Al-Qaeda-linked Al-Shabaab forces, while his team accompanied Somali army troops on a nighttime raid against an enemy compound. Two other SEALs were lightly injured.
"The Milliken family would like to extend their gratitude to the community for their interest in our beloved Kyle,” the family said in a statement released on their behalf by the command. “He was a devoted father and son, a true professional and a wonderful husband.”
The family declined to do interviews. “While we appreciate your interest, we ask you respect our need for privacy,” the statement said.
A defense official said Milliken was attached to the Naval Special Warfare Development Group, also known as SEAL Team 6. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to describe Milliken’s service with the elite counterterrorism unit.
The Pentagon would only say he is assigned to an East Coast based special warfare unit.
"Senior Chief Kyle Milliken embodied the warrior spirit and toughness infused in our very best Navy SEALs,” Naval Special Warfare Commander Rear Admiral Szymanski said in a statement Saturday. “We grieve his death, but we celebrate his life and many accomplishments. He is irreplaceable as a husband, father, son, friend and teammate - and our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and teammates.”
“His sacrifice is a stark reminder that Naval Special Operators are forward doing their job, confronting terrorism overseas to prevent evil from reaching our shores,” Symanski added.
The SEALs were conducting a counterterrorist mission advising local Somali army troops that has been ongoing since 2013. The Trump administration recently authorized them to conduct unilateral missions in Somalia as well.
This is the second loss for SEAL Team Six since President Donald Trump took office. During a speech to Congress, he honored Navy Senior Chief Ryan Owens who was lost in a January raid against Al Qaeda in Yemen. This is the fourth U.S. service member reported killed in action in the past two weeks. On April 27, two soldiers died during a raid in Afghanistan’s Nangarhar Province, and on April 29, a soldier was killed by an improvised explosive device in Iraq.
Milliken enlisted in 2002, and fought in multiple theaters including Iraq and Afghanistan, earning a Bronze Star with valor during combat among his many awards.
He was the first U.S. combat death in Somalia since 1993 when 18 troops were lost after two Black Hawk helicopters crashed and fierce fighting ensued during a raid.
UPDATE: This story was updated to add details of the SEAL's combat service and other recent U.S. casualties.