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Norwin grad turned Navy SEAL to be buried today

| Friday, Dec. 21, 2012, 12:02 a.m.
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Petty Officer 1st Class Nicolas D. Checque, 28, of Monroeville. He’s a 2002 graduate of Norwin High School.

A man who graduated from Norwin High School to become a member of the elite Navy SEAL Team 6 unit will be laid to rest today among other American heroes in Arlington National Cemetery.

A funeral for Petty Officer 1st Class Nicolas David Checque, 28, a 10-year decorated member of the military team, will be held at 1 p.m. today at the Virginia cemetery. He died on Dec. 9 in Afghanistan when he was shot during a rescue mission to save an American relief worker who was kidnapped by the Taliban.

Checque spent the past decade serving as a Navy SEAL, the last five as a member of the elite SEAL Team 6, the same team whose members conducted the raid that killed Osama Bin Laden. It is not known whether Checque played any part in that raid, but he executed dangerous missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, and wherever else he was needed, according to friends and family.

Checque served in the Iraq War and in Afghanistan operations. His decorations included the Bronze Star, Joint Service Commendation Medal and Navy/Marine Corps Commendation Medal among others.

It was just before 3 a.m. Dec. 9 when Checque and other members of his special operations team, comprised of both U.S. and Afghan forces, loaded into helicopters and headed to a remote mountaintop in Eastern Afghanistan, the military reported. The mission was to rescue Dr. Dilip Joseph, an American working for a faith-based relief agency, Morning Star Development, who was taken hostage by the Taliban on Dec. 5.

Joseph was one of three aid workers from Morning Star taken hostage by Taliban militants while returning from a rural medical clinic.

The other two hostages were released by their captors. The rescue mission was initiated after intelligence revealed Joseph was in imminent danger.

Checque enlisted in the Navy in October 2002, the same year he graduated from Norwin, and entered the Navy's Special Warfare training in April 2003. In high school, he excelled in academics and was a wrestler.

Friends said Checque spoke of becoming a Navy SEAL since the seventh grade.

Gov. Tom Corbett has ordered all Pennsylvania flags in the Capitol Complex and at commonwealth facilities in Allegheny County to fly at half-staff on Friday to honor Checque. Corbett said state flags should remain at half-staff until sundown.

In a separate tribute, President Obama on Wednesday ordered U.S. flags to be lowered in respect for Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, who died on Monday at 88. Flags are to remain lowered until Inouye's interment on Sunday in Hawaii.

Paul Peirce is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-850-2860 or ppeirce@tribweb.com.

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