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Navy Chief Special Warfare Operator (SEAL) Michael E. Koch

Died February 4, 2008 Serving During Operation Iraqi Freedom

29,of State College, Pa.; assigned to East Coast-based SEAL team; ; died Feb. 4, from wounds sustained from small arms fire during combat operations in Balad, Iraq. Also killed was Chief Special Warfare Operator (SEAL) Nathan H. Hardy.

Navy SEAL from State College dies in Iraq

The Associated Press

NORFOLK, Va. — A Navy SEAL from State College, Pa., has been killed in action in Iraq.

Michael Koch and fellow SEAL Nathan Hardy, from Durham, N.H., died Feb. 4 after being wounded by small-arms fire, the Defense Department said. Both men were stationed in Norfolk, Va.

“There are only approximately 2,500 SEALs in the Navy and they really are a brotherhood,” said Naval Special Warfare spokesman Lt. David Luckett. “This is another unfortunate reminder of the risks and sacrifices these amazing warriors and their families make on a daily basis.”

Koch leaves behind his parents and a fiancee. He enlisted in July 1998 and entered SEAL training in January 1999, according to The Virginian-Pilot of Norfolk. He received the Bronze Star, Joint Service Commendation Medal and three Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals.

Hardy is the son of a University of New Hampshire professor. It was his fourth deployment in Iraq, according to his father, Stephen Hardy, a professor of kinesiology. His mother, Donna Hardy, is an administrative assistant in UNH’s psychology department.

Family: Navy SEAL was quiet, but ‘fabulous at what he did’

The Associated Press

Naval Chief Petty Officer Michael E. Koch attended Penn State University, but left to enlist in the Navy in 1998 and entered SEAL training in 1999.

Joining the elite Special Forces was always his goal, said his father, Donald Koch.

“That’s why he went into the Navy — to try out for the SEALs,” Koch said. “He was very humble and quiet but fabulous at what he did.”

Koch, 29, of State College, Pa., was killed Feb. 4 from wounds suffered from small-arms fire in Iraq. He was a 1996 high school graduate and was assigned to Virginia Beach, Va.

His family is close. His father, a 20-year Air Force veteran, camped out in the woods while Koch was going through his SEAL training in 1999, trying to put himself through some of the same experiences his son was enduring.

Koch served in Kosovo and Afghanistan, winning the Bronze Star among other honors. Family outings might include skydiving, snowmobiling or scuba diving.

One Christmas, he told his younger brother, Matthew, and younger sister, Tiffany, to peek in the garage. They each had a new motorcycle.

He also is survived by his mother, Jean.

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