Tyler Trahan, a 22-year-old Navy petty officer 2d class, was with two Marines when the three of them were killed [last Thursday], according to the Navy. Military officials would not provide further details, only saying the three were supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom, but Trahan's family has said that a roadside bomb exploded. It was not clear whether the device detonated on its own or was activated.
Trahan was a member of the Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit Twelve, based in Virginia, and was temporarily assigned to a Navy SEAL team in Iraq. He was deployed last month.
His family said yesterday that Trahan's goal when joining the Navy was to work in an elite ordnance disposal unit.
"It's something he always wanted to do and strongly believed in," his sister, Molly Trahan, said yesterday. He would always tell her, "Tough times don't last, but tough people do," she said.
Trahan was a 2004 graduate of Old Colony Regional Vocational Technical School in Rochester, where he excelled academically and in sports. He was in the top of his graduating class, a member of the National Honor Society, and a star quarterback on the football team.
After studying at the Massachusetts Maritime Academy for a year, he enlisted in the Navy and graduated from boot camp in 2006. He underwent naval dive and salvage training, and naval engineering training, before he was assigned to the ordnance disposal unit.
The Navy has honored him with several decorations including the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Combat Action ribbon, National Defense Service medal, the Iraq Campaign medal, and the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary medal.
"Petty Officer Tyler Trahan was an exemplary leader and exceptional EOD technician," Commander Joseph Polanin, commanding officer of Trahan's unit, said in a statement. "He was a great warrior, teammate, and friend to so many. His patriotic spirit will live on in each of us."
Trahan comes from a family of servicemen. His father, Jean P., served in the Army during the Vietnam era. His grandfather, John J. O'Malley Jr., served in the Navy during World War II. And, his sister said last night he also admired a great-uncle, Colonel Donald Allain, who served in World War II and the Korean and Vietnam wars and was a veteran of the Battle of Okinawa in April 1945.
Jean-Pierre Trahan said his son Tyler recently told the family he "would much rather risk his life deactivating a bomb overseas than witnessing a bomb detonate on U.S. soil."
John Donovan has written about Staff Sergeant Mark A. Wojciechowski, one of the two Marines killed along with PO2 Tyler Trahan. The other Marine was Sgt. James R. McIlvaine.
Major Pain of One Marine's View has more.
Fair winds and following seas, young warriors. Our prayers are with your families, and with your brothers.