David W. Laconte from Virginia Beach killed by bomb in Afghanistan
Posted by defensebaseactcomp on November 18, 2009
Retired SEAL from Virginia Beach slain by bomb in Afghanistan
At a time when many men would have been enjoying retirement, former Navy SEAL David W. LaConte headed back to a combat zone to train American soldiers in the latest military technology.
On Friday, he was killed by a homemade bomb in eastern Afghanistan. Army Spc. Christopher J. Coffland of Baltimore also died in the attack, according to the Defense Department.
LaConte, 58, came to Afghanistan in August as an independent contractor with the Rapid Equipping Force, an Army organization based at Fort Belvoir, Va.
“He was very dedicated,” Lt. Col. Dean Hoffman, the unit’s team chief, said from Afghanistan on Wednesday. “He was one guy who couldn’t sit still.”
Last week, LaConte was in charge of teaching six soldiers how to use a new technology called an unmanned ground sensor. LaConte could have easily created a Power Point demonstration to show the soldiers on base, said Hoffman, but he decided to go outside the wire and teach them the right way.
“That right there tells you what kind of a person he was,” said Hoffman. “His greatest asset was his greatest demise. He was willing to do what it took to get a job done.”
LaConte enlisted in the Navy in December 1969 and became a hull technician, according to Navy personnel records. During a career of more than 20 years, he achieved the rank of senior chief petty officer and served on SEAL teams on both coasts, as well as at the Naval Special Warfare Center in Colorado, Calif.
Neighbor Barry Ezell said LaConte was the kind of guy who always had your back.
Once when Ezell left town for a few days, LaConte saw a strange man standing in Ezell’s backyard. He quickly phoned Ezell and said calmly, “There’s a man in your backyard, and I’m gonna take ’em out.”
“I said, ‘No, don’t! It’s just a relative,’” Ezell recalled. “That’s just what he was trained to do – catch the bad guys. He always looked out for you.”
After hearing about LaConte’s death, Ezell created a picture slide show of LaConte and his family and posted it on the video sharing Web site, YouTube. By Wednesday afternoon, the post had hundreds of hits. Friends from all over – Afghanistan to Alaska – commented on what a great person he was, said Ezell.
“David was very, very well known,” Ezell said. “A lot of people are feeling the sting of him dying.”
Skip Krepcik, who met LaConte more than 10 years ago, said he had a warm, tender side.
“He would tell me how much he loved his family,” said Krepcik. “ He was so proud to live in a country where his daughter could grow up and have ambition, instead of living in a country where women are treated like property.”
LaConte leaves behind his wife of 23 years, Robin; a 21-year-old daughter, Courtney, and a 14-year-old son, Cody.
Capt. Colin Kilrain, commander of Naval Special Warfare Group Two, called LaConte “a great American and a fantastic SEAL who served his country with honor and distinction in a variety of capacities.”
“We will never forget his service and the ultimate sacrifice he made,” Kilrain said in a statement.
A week before he died, LaConte sent his neighbor Ezell an e-mail expressing how much he was enjoying the deployment.
“God’s been really good to me,” he wrote.
By Jaedda Armstrong
A retired Navy SEAL from Virginia Beach was killed Friday in eastern Afghanistan when a roadside bomb exploded.
David W. LaConte, 58, was working as an independent contractor in Afghanistan. An American service member, whose name was not released, also was killed, according to the International Security Assistance Force.
LaConte enlisted in the Navy in December 1969 and became a hull technician, according to naval personnel records. During a career of more than 20 years, he achieved the rank of senior chief petty officer and served on SEAL teams on both coasts as well as at the Naval Special Warfare Center in Coronado, Calif.
LaConte is survived by his wife, Robin; daughter Courtney; and son Cody, among others. A funeral service will be Saturday at First Baptist Church Norfolk.
Memorial contributions may be made to Naval Special Warfare Foundation, P.O. Box 5965, Virginia Beach, VA 23471.