SOC (SEAL) Collin T. Thomas

SOC (SEAL) Collin T. Thomas 1


Hometown / City: Morehead, KY
Date of Death: Wednesday, August 18, 2010
Conflict: Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan)
Branch: U.S. Navy
Rank: Chief Petty Officer
Post / Base: East Coast based SEAL team

Birth: May 22, 1977
Kentucky, USA
Death: Aug. 18, 2010, Afghanistan

Chief Petty Officer (SEAL) Collin Thomas, 33, of Morehead, Kentucky, died August 18, 2010, during a combat operation in eastern Afghanistan. Thomas was assigned to an east coast-based SEAL team.

CPO Thomas was a native of Morehead, Kentucky. He graduated from Rowan County High School in 1995, and went on to attended Morehead State University. In 1997, enlistment to serve in the U.S. Navy.

He was an honored Navy SEAL and received numerous awards and decorations during his 13-year Navy career that include three Bronze Star Medals with Valor and a Purple Heart.

He is preceded in death by his beloved maternal grandfather and his paternal grandparents. He is survived by his parents, his sister and her husband, his niece, his maternal grandmother,and many aunts, uncles, cousins and other relatives. He is also survived by his fiancée – the love of his life – and Hagan his beloved dog.

A private service was held at the Little Creek Theater on August 26, 2010.

Forest Lawn Memorial Gardens
Morehead (Rowan County)
Rowan County
Kentucky, USA

Collin Trent Thomas, May 2, 1977 – August 18, 2010, a young man who lived his too short life to the fullest. Collin was born in California, lived in (7) different states and two different countries – all before he began high school.

Many in the Morehead community will remember Collin. He attended Rowan County Senior High School (RCHS) in Morehead, Kentucky where he ran track and played varsity football between 2001 and 2004. He had a sheepish smile that got him “over” in many instances he should have had different consequences. I am sure there was some mischief Collin and his friends got into that his Mom and I were not aware of, but he was a great teenager whose character and achievements made his entire family proud. Collin championed the plight of some very young black children on a school bus in the first few days of transferring to RCHS. He did not know these children, but he knew them being picked on and denied a bus seat by bigger and older children was wrong. He was thirteen. He demonstrated that sense of fairness throughout his short life. Future instances demonstrated his willingness to help those weaker than himself.

He began his unofficial SEAL training by age fifteen. He made contact with a Navy Master Chief (SEAL) at the US Naval Academy and through many phone conversations; he began the physical, academic and emotional preparations to live up to his dream. Just after receiving his Driver License at age 16, he completed his SCUBA Open Water Dive Certification under his father’s supervision to depths of 70 and 120 feet off the coast of North Carolina.

Collin’s friends and some teachers remember he dreamed, even as a young teenager, of becoming a Navy SEAL. Upon high school graduation, Collin continued his SEAL preparations and education by attending Morehead State University. Collin was selected by his Army ROTC instructors to attend U.S. Army Airborne School where he earned his basic military parachute qualification. He completed advanced swimmer and life saving courses to become a Water Safety Survival Instructor. For the first time in Collin’s formal education, he began to excel in his academic achievements. While attending Morehead State University, Collin pledged and was initiated an SAE where he enjoyed the social aspects with his fraternity brothers. Collin turned down a full ROTC scholarship and left college to enlist in the U.S. Navy during February 1997. He was administered the oath of office by his father in Louisville and thus began the military portion of his pursuit to become a Navy SEAL.

Collin first became an Honor Graduate at the Hospital Corpsman School and was meritoriously promoted to Petty Officer 3d Class (E-4). He then attended the 6-month Basic Underwater Demolition SEAL (BUD/S), graduating with Class 219. Collin’s follow on training took him to U.S. Army Special Operations “Sergeants Medical Trauma Course” (18D) where he again excelled and was meritoriously promoted to Petty Officer 2d Class (E-5). In January 2000, Collin reported to SEAL Team 4 where he attended Seal Tactical Training. Collin became a Navy SEAL in June 9, 2000 and began what would become a distinguished SEAL career with his first deployment to South America.

Collin took to learning new skill sets with enthusiasm. He became a nationally certified Paramedic with particular emphasis on trauma treatment. He became an accomplished Lead Climber, who scaled many near vertical mountains installing ropes for his teammates and removing them on the way down. He became a master high altitude – low open (HALO) and high altitude – high open (HAHO) parachutist (specializing in nighttime high altitude operations). He mastered re-breathing (oxygen generation) underwater diving, sometimes remaining under water over four-hours. Collin became one of the SEAL’s most proficient shooters with both long and short barrel weapons. He won most of his inter unit shooting competitions. He excelled at snow skiing. He skied the most difficult (Black Diamond) and airdrop ski courses in South America, Europe and the Western US. One of his last mountain accomplishments was he and two of his teammates climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Africa (19,300 feet). The Kilimanjaro climb led to another of those occasions where Collin’s character was demonstrated when he delayed his final assent to save the lives of two strangers suffering from altitude sickness.

By 9/11, Collin had completed two overseas deployments and earned an award for saving the life of an injured civilian in mountainous terrain by climbing down to the person, stabilizing his injuries and getting him evacuated by helicopter the next day. 9/11 created a new set of challenges for all military personnel and was doubly traumatic for the Collin, the Thomas family and the Morehead community. Collin ‘s cousin Edward Earhart was the first identified military casualty of the terrorist attack on the Pentagon.

Shortly after 9/11, Collin transferred to SEAL Team 2 and began combat deployments. First he deployed to Iraq and then Afghanistan. There were several individual or small group classified operational trips to other countries around the world where Collin began do separate himself from most of his peers. Within a short period Collin had demonstrated his combat capabilities to teammates and superiors. He was awarded his first Bronze Star w/V for Valor in 2004. In 2006, Collin completed the 6-month selection process to become a member of an elite SEAL Team. After being one of 50% who completed the training, he continued to demonstrate his superb tactical and leadership skills. Collin was treated as a “new guy” for only a short time. He began the share his knowledge and techniques with teammates and soon the real “new guys.” He would continue to be the “SEAL’s SEAL” until the final mission where he was killed while saving other team members.

Collin never talked about the awards he received, but he certainly was a highly decorated combat veteran of nine combat deployments and nearly 250 direct action combat missions. His combat awards included The Silver Star Medal, (3) Bronze Star Medals with “V” devices, a Purple Heart Medal, (2) Joint Service Commendation Medals with “V” devices, and a Navy Commendation Medal with “V” device, {The “V” device denotes Valor}. His achievement awards included The Defense Meritorious Service Medal and (6) Navy Achievement Medals.

SOC (SEAL) Collin T. Thomas 2 SOC (SEAL) Collin T. Thomas 3 SOC (SEAL) Collin T. Thomas 4 SOC (SEAL) Collin T. Thomas 5

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