STAMFORD, Conn. (PIX11)—The heartbroken parents of Navy SEAL Brian Bill, who was raised in Stamford, Connecticut and killed in Afghanistan over the weekend, said Monday he was passionate about his military work and wanted to become an astronaut, once his naval service was completed.
Sadly, Bill was one of 22 Navy SEALS who lost their lives, along with eight other Americans, when the Shinook helicopter they were flying in was shot down by insurgents near Kabul, Afghanistan in the single, deadliest event since the war there began. The elite team was trying to rescue Army Rangers caught in enemy fire.
Jonathan Scofield, who graduated with the 32-year old Bill from Trinity Catholic High School in Stamford in 1997, said his friend always wanted to be a Navy SEAL.
"He saw that as an elite force, where he was on the front lines and helping our country," Scofield told PIX 11 News. Scofield, who serves in the Air Force, said his friend turned down an officer's commission when he graduated from Norwich University in 2001, so he could enlist in the U.S. Navy and get on track to become a SEAL.
"It's one of the most difficult training regimens in the world," Scofield pointed out. "He would come and go at a moment's notice and couldn't tell anyone his assignment." The friends last connected about a year ago, but Scofield was leaving voicemails for Bill over the weekend, when he heard about the massive casualties, hoping his friend was okay.
Bill's mother and stepfather, Patricia and Michael Parry, issued a statement saying "Brian was a remarkably gifted, thoughtful and compassionate young man. We are incredibly proud of him."
A huge, American flag was draped over the family home Monday in a gated community in Stamford. In the statement, they also said of Brian, "Already an accomplished mountaineer, skier, pilot, and triathlete, he wanted to complete the seven summits."
Brian Bill's former soccer coach at Trinity Catholic broke down Monday, when he talked about the young athlete he remembered from the late 90's. He sent an e-mail to his present team, vowing to dedicate the upcoming season to Brian Bill's memory.
"When you are busy or tired and don't feel like practicing or are in a game and are on the edge of giving up, think about how Brian approached his life and then dig in and try harder," he said.
Bill enlisted in the Navy the same year that terrorists slammed jet planes into the Twin Towers, the Pentagon, and a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, plunging the U.S. back to war. He was a member of SEAL Unit 6, based in Virginia Beach, the same unit that captured and killed America's Most Wanted terrorist, Osama Bin Laden earlier this year. Although Bill was not part of that operation, officials pointed out.
"If there's any solace in this situation, it's that he died doing what he believed in and what he loved doing," Jonathan Scofield, a friend of the fallen Navy SEAL told PIX 11 News.