Thursday, February 07, 2008

Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician 1st Class Luis A. Souffront

Remember Our Heroes

Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician 1st Class Luis A. Souffront, 25, of Miami, Fla.

EOD Tech Souffront was assigned to an East Coast based SEAL team; died Feb. 7, 2008 from wounds sustained from an improvised explosive device while serving in combat operations in Iraq.

The Virginian-Pilot -- A sailor assigned to a Virginia Beach-based SEAL team has died and six of his comrades were wounded in combat in Iraq, the Pentagon announced Saturday.

The slain sailor was identified as Petty Officer 1st Class Luis Ariel Souffront, 25, of Miami.

Souffront, an explosive ordnance disposalman, was assigned to Naval Special Warfare Group Two, based in Virginia Beach. His was the third combat death last week among personnel assigned to that unit.

"The water was his life and joining the Navy was his passion," said Rosanna Tejeda, one of his cousins, Saturday evening. "Everyone is at a shock and total disbelief" in Souffront's family, she said. "We have lost a precious person."

The Department of Defense said he died Thursday from wounds suffered from the blast of an improvised explosive device.

"Six other people were injured," said Lt. David Luckett, a spokesman for Naval Special Warfare Group Two, based at the Little Creek Naval Amphibious Base.

Their wounds "ranged in severity," he said, but all were successfully evacuated to military medical facilities where they are being treated and "none of their injuries are life-threatening."

The names of those who were hurt were not released, but all were members of Souffront's unit, and some of them were SEAL team members, Luckett confirmed.

Citing security concerns, Luckett said he could not say where in Iraq the incident occurred or offer any substantive details of the nature of the mission the unit was on when the blast occurred.

"They were carrying out combat operations," he said.

As a combat-support specialist, Souffront trained and fought shoulder-to-shoulder with SEAL team members.

Explosive ordnance specialists "play a critical role" in special warfare missions, Luckett said.

Such combat support personnel "go through the same training that the SEALs do before deployment," he said. They also "work side-by-side with the SEALs on the battlefield, assuming the same risk."

While they may not wear the same patches and insignia, they "are brothers in arms on the battlefield," Luckett said.

Souffront is survived by his mother and father, who reside in Miami. The family declined requests for interviews.

On Tuesday, the Pentagon confirmed the deaths of two Navy SEALs also assigned to Special Warfare Group Two.

Nathan H. Hardy and Michael E. Koch, both 29, were killed Monday in small-arms fire during anti-insurgent operations, the Navy said.

Souffront enlisted in the Navy on July 24, 2000. After boot camp, he attended several specialized training schools and completed Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal School at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida in July 2002.

He was then assigned for two months to the Explosive Ordnance Disposal Training Unit One in San Diego and was then transferred to Guam, where he was assigned to Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit Five through November 2005. That month, he was transferred to the Virginia Beach-based SEAL Team.

Souffront's awards and decorations include the Purple Heart, the Joint Service Commendation Medal, two Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals, the Army Achievement Medal, a Combat Action Ribbon, two Good Conduct Medals, the National Defense Medal, the Iraq Campaign Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Humanitarian Service Medal, two Sea Service deployment awards, two Navy/Marine Corps Overseas Service awards and the Rifle and Pistol Marksmanship Medals.

Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician 1st Class Luis A. Souffront was killed in action on 2/7/08.

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