Operation Iraqi Freedom, Fallen Heroes, Iraq War 03/19/03

Thomas J Valentine

Ham Lake, Minnesota

February 13, 2008

Age Military Rank Unit/Location
37 Navy SOCS

Navy SEAL, Casa Grande

 

Arlington Cemetery

15 February 2008:

The Navy has identified the SEAL who died Wednesday during a parachute-training exercise.

Special Warfare Operator Senior Chief Thomas J. Valentine, 37, who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, died from injuries suffered during parachute-training operations in Casa Grande, Navy officials said.

"We want to make sure that we find out what exactly happened so that we can prevent this from happening again," said Naval Public Affairs Officer Lieutenant David Luckett. Luckett said the type of training exercise is relatively routine.

The accident occurred early Wednesday morning while Valentine was undergoing free-fall parachute training.

Valentine's body was found at the Mission Royale Golf Course. The cause of the accident was still under investigation.

Valentine enlisted in the U.S. Navy in August 1989 and served most of his time with East Coast-based SEAL teams.

Valentine did multiple tours in Afghanistan and Iraq and received numerous military awards and decorations including the Silver Star Medal, and three Bronze Stars with "V" for Valor.

Valentine, who was from Minnesota, is survived by his wife, two children, parents, brother and sister. 
14 February 2008:

A Virginia Beach-based Navy SEAL killed during a parachute training jump in Arizona has been identified as a 37-year-old father who served in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Thomas J. Valentine, a special warfare operator senior chief, was conducting free-fall parachute training when the accident occurred Wednesday morning in Casa Grande, Arizona, according to a Navy news release. 
Valentine's body was found at the Mission Royale Golf Course, about 30 miles south of Phoenix. The cause of the accident is under investigation.

Captain Scott Moore, commander of the Naval Special Warfare Development Group, said today that Valentine was one of the finest SEALs he had ever known. He described him as a role model and incredible leader.

Valentine was from Ham Lake, Minnesota. He is survived by his wife, son and daughter. 
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. 
SEAL Who Died During Training Remembered as Quiet Patriot
By Mark Berman
Courtesy of the Washington Post
Friday, February 29, 2008

Hundreds of people gathered at Arlington National Cemetery yesterday to bid farewell to a Navy SEAL who served nearly two decades and multiple tours in Afghanistan and Iraq before he was killed in an accident this month.

Senior Chief Petty Officer Thomas J. Valentine, 37, of Ham Lake, Minnesota, died in an accident while conducting parachute training operations in Casa Grande, Ariz., on February 13, 2008, the Navy reported. The accident is under investigation. 

Mourners bundled up against bitterly cold winds as Valentine's flag-draped coffin was carried to his grave site in Section 60 of the cemetery. A Navy chaplain, identified by cemetery officials as Lieutenant Timothy Springer, spoke of how they were gathered to celebrate Valentine's life.

"I don't know the why, I don't know the how," he said. "But I do know the who. Tom was a warrior. Day in, day out, he fought valiantly."

Springer said that Valentine, a special operations technician, was a quiet man and a patriot and that it was fitting that he was honored at Arlington. "Rest in peace, Tom," he said.

Folded flags were presented to Valentine's widow, Christina, and his father, Jack Valentine. 

"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 the online guest book Legacy.com, mourners described Valentine as "a good friend," "one of the nicest guys I have ever known" and "a really great guy, dad, husband, son, brother, friend, and hero."

Two people spoke of his kindness, as a man who had once seen their dog in trouble and "ran right over to help." Another talked about how the Valentines reached out to new neighbors, even helping to build their daughter's crib. "Tom was such a wonderful and loving dad who displayed such devotion to his family," one person wrote. "Tom was simply a great guy," said another, calling him loving, compassionate and funny.

"Tom inspired me in many ways, and many of the dreams hatched with youthful energy have stuck with me," wrote another, who considered Valentine a best friend in their youth. "He was quite simply one of the best people I have known." 

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