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FALMOUTH, Maine (CBSMiami/AP) — The Pentagon has identified a Maine man on Saturday as the Navy SEAL killed in a military operation in Somalia, the first American to die in combat in the African country since 1993.

Senior Chief Special Warfare Operator Kyle Milliken, 38, of Falmouth, was killed during an operation Thursday against the extremist group al-Shabab. A Pentagon spokesman said that U.S. special operations troops had come under fire after U.S. aircraft delivered Somali forces to the target area.

“Senior Chief Kyle Milliken embodied the warrior spirit and toughness infused in our very best Navy SEALs,” said Rear Admiral Timothy Szymanski, who is in charge of the Navy SEALs. “His sacrifice is a stark reminder that Naval Special Operators are forward doing their job, confronting terrorism overseas to prevent evil from reaching our shores.”

Milliken’s family asked for privacy in a statement released by Naval Special Warfare Command.

“The Milliken family would like to extend their gratitude to the community for their interest in our beloved Kyle. He was a devoted father and son, a true professional and a wonderful husband,” it said. “While we appreciate your interest, we ask you respect our need for privacy.”

Milliken graduated from Cheverus High School in Portland, where he was remembered as a top track athlete, according to U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree’s office.

“We will forever be grateful for Senior Chief Milliken’s selfless service to our nation and his commitment to a cause bigger than himself,” Pingree said in a statement. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the entire Milliken family and those who knew Senior Chief Millken from his early days in Falmouth.”

Milliken enlisted in 2002 and has been stationed with the East-Coast Based Special Warfare Unit. He has been awarded more than a dozen citations, ribbons and medals. He was also an Enlisted Freefall Parachutist.

Last month, the U.S. said it was sending dozens of regular troops to Somalia in the largest such deployment there in about two decades. The U.S. in recent years has sent a small number of special operations forces and counterterrorism advisers to Somalia and conducted a number of airstrikes.

(TM and © Copyright 2017 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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