Martin C. Evans

Navy Seal With Long Island Link Among Helicopter Dead

In Uncategorized on August 11, 2011 at 4:26 pm

Among the 30 special forces troops named today by the Pentagon as having been killed in Saturday’s Afghanistan helicopter crash was a Navy Seal who previously trained on Long Island to qualify for the elite military unit.

Chief Petty Officer Brian Bill, 31, of Stamford, Ct., participated a decade ago in physical screenings on the grounds of the Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point, said retired Navy Capt. Drew Bisset, a former Navy Seal who tutored him.

“He was an outstanding young man – very motivated to become a Seal,” Bisset said. “This was something he wanted. This was his dream.”

The screenings were designed to improve a candidate’s chances of surviving the rigorous Seal training program, said Bisset, who has run the program for 17 years, and who last year moved his operations to a YMCA in Greenwich, Ct..

Bisset said Bill asked him to help prepare for the Seal program in 2001, shortly after Bill graduated from Norwich University, a private military college in Northfield, Vt..

Air Force Reserve Capt. Jonahan Scofield, who played with Bill on youth hockey teams, said even as a child, Bill would proclaim his desire to join the select Navy group.

“Brian’s answer was always that he wanted to be a Seal from the time I first knew him,” Scofield said. “He was just flawless in executing his plan.”

An obituary released by a funeral home indicated that Bill’s military awards including three Bronze Star medals awarded for combat valor.

Bisset said Bill is the fourth individual from the 100 who have gone from his program to become Seals to perish in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Lt. Michael P. Murphy, of Patchogue, who also trained under Bisset at Kings Point, became a Navy Seal in 2001, one year before Bill. Murphy perished during a 2005 Afghanistan battle that earned him the Medal of Honor.

Chief Petty Officer Nate Hardy, of Durham, New Hampshire, and Josh Harris, of Lexington, N.C., also trained with Bisset. Hardy perished in Iraq in 2008. Harris died in Afghanistan that same year.

The screen test Bisset administered at Kings Point required participants to complete at least 42 pushups, 50 situps, 6 chinups, a 500-yard swim and a 1.5 mile run, all within a few minutes of each other and under strict time limits. Bisset said he expected candidates to far exceed those minimums to be taken seriously.

The dead aboard the helicopter included 17 Navy Seals and five “enablers” from the Navy’s Special Warfare command. Five soldiers and three airmen were also aboard the CH-47 “Chinook” heavy lift helicopter.

Portraits of the men who were killed, published by Stars and Stripes, can be found here. Brief bios of the men can be found here.

The craft was shot down by a rocket propelled grenade in a valley west of Kabul early Saturday. It had been flying to the aid of ground troops who were engaged in a firefight. Pentagon officials said Tuesday that the crash was so “horrific” that the victims could not be quickly identified.

“This is a tough time for me,” Bisset said. “These guys are like my sons.”

The following sailors assigned to an East Coast-based Naval Special Warfare unit were killed:

Lt. Cmdr. (SEAL) Jonas B. Kelsall, 32, of Shreveport, La.,

Special Warfare Operator Master Chief Petty Officer (SEAL) Louis J. Langlais, 44, of Santa Barbara, Calif.,

Special Warfare Operator Senior Chief Petty Officer (SEAL) Thomas A. Ratzlaff, 34, of Green Forest, Ark.,

Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician Senior Chief Petty Officer (Expeditionary Warfare Specialist/Freefall Parachutist) Kraig M. Vickers 36, of Kokomo, Hawaii,

Special Warfare Operator Chief Petty Officer (SEAL) Brian R. Bill, 31, of Stamford, Conn.,

Special Warfare Operator Chief Petty Officer (SEAL) John W. Faas, 31, of Minneapolis, Minn.,

Special Warfare Operator Chief Petty Officer (SEAL) Kevin A. Houston, 35, of West Hyannisport, Mass.,

Special Warfare Operator Chief Petty Officer (SEAL) Matthew D. Mason, 37, of Kansas City, Mo.,

Special Warfare Operator Chief Petty Officer (SEAL) Stephen M. Mills, 35, of Fort Worth, Texas,

Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician Chief Petty Officer (Expeditionary Warfare Specialist/Freefall Parachutist/Diver) Nicholas H. Null, 30, of Washington, W.Va.,

Special Warfare Operator Chief Petty Officer (SEAL) Robert J. Reeves, 32, of Shreveport, La.,

Special Warfare Operator Chief Petty Officer (SEAL) Heath M. Robinson, 34, of Detroit, Mich.,

Special Warfare Operator Petty Officer 1st Class (SEAL) Darrik C. Benson, 28, of Angwin, Calif.

Special Warfare Operator Petty Officer 1st Class (SEAL/Parachutist) Christopher G. Campbell, 36, of Jacksonville, N.C.,

Information Systems Technician Petty Officer 1st Class (Expeditionary Warfare Specialist/Freefall Parachutist) Jared W. Day, 28, of Taylorsville, Utah,

Master-at-Arms Petty Officer 1st Class (Expeditionary Warfare Specialist) John Douangdara, 26, of South Sioux City, Neb.,

Cryptologist Technician (Collection) Petty Officer 1st Class (Expeditionary Warfare Specialist) Michael J. Strange, 25, of Philadelphia, Pa.,

Special Warfare Operator Petty Officer 1st Class (SEAL/Enlisted Surface Warfare Specialist) Jon T. Tumilson, 35, of Rockford, Iowa,

Special Warfare Operator Petty Officer 1st Class (SEAL) Aaron C. Vaughn, 30, of Stuart, Fla., and

Special Warfare Operator Petty Officer 1st Class (SEAL) Jason R. Workman, 32, of Blanding, Utah.

The following sailors assigned to a West Coast-based Naval Special Warfare unit were killed:

Special Warfare Operator Petty Officer 1st Class (SEAL) Jesse D. Pittman, 27, of Ukiah, Calif., and

Special Warfare Operator Petty Officer 2nd Class (SEAL) Nicholas P. Spehar, 24, ofSaint Paul, Minn.

The soldiers killed were:

Chief Warrant Officer David R. Carter, 47, of Centennial, Colo. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 135th Aviation Regiment (General Support Aviation Battalion), Aurora, Colo.;

Chief Warrant Officer Bryan J. Nichols, 31, of Hays, Kan. He was assigned to the 7th Battalion, 158th Aviation Regiment (General Support Aviation Battalion), New Century, Kan.;

Sgt. Patrick D. Hamburger, 30, of Lincoln, Neb. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 135th Aviation Regiment (General Support Aviation Battalion), Grand Island, Neb.;

Sgt. Alexander J. Bennett, 24, of Tacoma, Wash. He was assigned to the 7th Battalion, 158th Aviation Regiment (General Support Aviation Battalion), New Century, Kan.; and

Spc. Spencer C. Duncan, 21, of Olathe, Kan. He was assigned to the 7th Battalion, 158th Aviation Regiment (General Support Aviation Battalion), New Century, Kan.

The airmen killed were:

Tech. Sgt. John W. Brown, 33, of Tallahassee, Fla.;

Staff Sgt. Andrew W. Harvell, 26, of Long Beach, Calif.; and

Tech. Sgt. Daniel L. Zerbe, 28, of York, Pa.

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  1. […] here: Navy Seal With Long Island Link Among Helicopter Dead This entry was posted in DNA, Deployment, SurvivorBUZZ, User, War, community and tagged archives, […]

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