Dec. 10, 2012 -- The Pentagon has identified Petty Officer 1st Class Nicolas Checque as the Navy SEAL who died of injuries sustained in the successful rescue of an American doctor from the Taliban over the weekend.
Checque, who hailed from Monroeville, Pa., died of "combat related injuries," according to a Pentagon release. Though the release only said Checque was assigned to "an East Coast-based Naval Special Warfare unit," ABC News previously reported the fallen servicemember was a part of the Navy's elite SEAL Team 6, the same unit that killed Osama bin Laden.
Checque, 28, sustained his mortal injuries while on a nighttime mission Saturday to free Dr. Dilip Joseph, an American doctor who worked for an non-governmental organization based in Kabul. Joseph was kidnapped by the Taliban earlier this month and American officials believed he was in imminent danger.
Joseph's family released a statement thanking the U.S. government and military for the operation and offering their condolences to Checque's family.
"We could not be more grateful for that soldier's heroism and for the bravery of all involved in the mission to bring Dilip home," the statement said.
Before Checque was identified publicly, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Sunday he was "deeply saddened" to learn one of the servicemen had died.
"The special operators who conducted this raid knew they were putting their lives on the line to free a fellow American from the enemy's grip. They put the safety of another American ahead of their own, as so many of our brave warriors do every day and every night. In this fallen hero, and all of our special operators, Americans see the highest ideals of citizenship, sacrifice and service upheld. The torch of freedom burns brighter because of them," Panetta said.
President Obama also praised the Special Operations force for their bravery.
"Yesterday, our special operators in Afghanistan rescued an American citizen in a mission that was characteristic of the extraordinary courage, skill and patriotism that our troops show every day," he said Sunday.