New details emerged Sunday about the life of Falmouth native Kyle Milliken, 38, the Navy SEAL who was killed during a raid on an al-Shabab terrorist base in Somalia last week.

His courage, mettle and leadership were emphasized in interviews with his former track coach at the University of Connecticut and his former Navy SEAL instructor – and in a Facebook tribute that was posted Sunday by the Falmouth Police Department.

Milliken’s family has asked for privacy and has not spoken to the media, except to release a statement Saturday through the Naval Special Warfare Command.

“The Milliken family would like to extend their gratitude to the community for their interest in our beloved Kyle,” the statement said in part.

After graduating from Cheverus High School in Portland in 1998, Milliken attended the University of Connecticut and became a member of the track and field team. He graduated from the University of Connecticut in 2001.

Kyle Milliken graduated from the University of Connecticut in 2001. Photo courtesy of University of Connecticut

“Kyle was a glue kid, the kind of kid who doesn’t just show up to practice every day, but made those around him better,” said UConn track and field coach Greg Roy in a statement.

“His work ethic, perseverance and overall toughness was appreciated by everyone around him. Kyle was a great student as well; it really didn’t surprise me when he made the grade as a Navy SEAL,” Roy added.

“The country has lost a great American and UConn has lost an alum who has made us proud.”

A TRIBUTE IN FALMOUTH

The Falmouth Police Department memorialized Milliken in a lengthy post on its Facebook page that its author, Sgt. Frank Soule III, said was written with help from the members of the Milliken family.

According to Soule, Milliken will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery “with countless other hometown heroes.”

A Navy spokesman on Sunday said he did not have any information when Milliken’s remains will be returned to the United States.

“We hear the term hometown hero get tossed around here and there,” wrote Soule, who has served with the police department since 1993. “Pictured with this post is the definition of just that.”

His Facebook post went on to describe Milliken’s life and accomplishments.

“The Milliken name is recognized in Falmouth, as many generations have lived their lives here,” Soule wrote. He noted that Milliken had lived a few miles from the police station and graduated from Cheverus. High school classmates described him as a “driven kid, who was well liked and a team player,” Soule said.

“Someone doesn’t just fall into being in the military and certainly not a leader or commanding officer on SEAL teams,” he said in the post. “Milliken obviously had a calling. A calling larger than himself.”

“The calling part is that a kid from Falmouth, Maine, ends up on a SEAL team and dies defending every single one of us in Somalia,” he added. “This doesn’t happen by accident. This happens because of a young man who was driven to make this world a better place and was willing to do so at all costs.”

FAMILY GATHERS IN VIRGINIA

Milliken was based in Virginia Beach, Virginia. His family and friends gathered at his home there Saturday but declined an interview request by The Virginian-Pilot newspaper. American flags lined the median of the road in the neighborhood where Milliken lived with his wife and children, the paper reported.

U.S. Rep. Scott Taylor, R-Va., whose district includes Virginia Beach, told The Virginian-Pilot that he had known Milliken for more than a decade and the two fought together in Iraq. Taylor, himself a former Navy SEAL, was Milliken’s instructor for marksmanship and reconnaissance and described Milliken as “a consummate professional and an incredible warrior,” the paper reported.

“It was very clear he was going to be a standout,” Taylor said in an interview with the Pilot. “You knew he was going to do great things – and he did. He was highly decorated and sacrificed a lot for this nation.”

Taylor could not be reached for comment Sunday night, but in a tweet, Taylor said this about Milliken: “Kyle was a great friend, family man, and teammate. He was brilliant, witty and fiercely loyal.”

A ‘TERRIFIC STUDENT’

At Cheverus High School, Milliken ran on the track and field team. In 1998, he and three teammates set a state record for the 1,600-meter relay, running the race in 3 minutes and 25 seconds.

Gary Hoyt, athletic director at Cheverus, told the Boston Herald that Milliken “was an absolutely terrific student, a gentleman by all standards and a terrific young man.” Hoyt did not reply to an interview request Sunday.

The Rev. George E. Collins, the president of Cheverus, posted a message Saturday on the school’s website saying that the Cheverus community was mourning the loss of Milliken. Collins encouraged Cheverus students, graduates and families to pay tribute to his life by making a donation to the Navy SEAL Foundation.

The nonprofit foundation provides support to Naval Special Warfare families in times of injury, illness or loss.

At the time of his death Friday, Milliken was enrolled as a student in William & Mary’s online MBA program at the college’s Raymond A. Mason School of Business.

William & Mary President Taylor Reveley issued a statement after being informed by the Pentagon that Milliken had been killed. William & Mary is located in Williamsburg, Virginia.

“A Navy SEAL and 15-year decorated veteran, Kyle was in his second semester as part of our Mason School of Business,” Reveley said. “He served his country with great distinction. We extend our deep sympathies to Kyle’s family and all those who had the pleasure of knowing him.”

SEAL TRAINING

Milliken joined the Navy in the summer of 2002 and by the end of the year started special warfare training in Coronado, California. He was posted to an East Coast-based special warfare unit in 2004. Milliken had nearly tripled the six-year enlistment obligation attached to his rating – senior chief special warfare operator.

During his 13 years as a SEAL, Milliken served tours in Iraq and Afghanistan and earned at least 30 medals and commendations, including four Bronze Stars.

Milliken was killed Friday during a predawn raid against the terror group al-Shabab in Barii, a remote area about 40 miles west of Mogadishu, the Somali capital. Two other service members were wounded, the Department of Defense said Saturday in a statement posted on its website. Milliken was the first U.S. combat death in Somalia since 1993, when 18 U.S. servicemen, including two from Maine, died during the so-called “Black Hawk Down” mission.

Navy Capt. Jeff Davis said in a statement that al-Shabab is an Al-Qaida affiliate closely tied to al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, a group “that has murdered Americans, radicalized and recruited terrorists and fighters in the United States, and which has conducted and inspired attacks against Americans and U.S. interests around the world.”

Davis said Friday’s mission conducted by Milliken and his team of Navy SEALS, which was to advise and support the Somalia National Army, is part of a larger effort to “systematically dismantle this al-Qaida affiliate” and to help the Somali army “achieve stability and security throughout the region as part of the global counterterroism effort.”

Several news outlets reported that Milliken was a member of SEAL Team 6, the team that led the raid that resulted in the death of Osama bin Laden.