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Honoring a fallen friend

by Joe Siville / Philadelphia Flyers
Prior to the Flyers-Devils game at the Wells Fargo Center on Saturday, the Flyers honored one of their beloved friends who lost his life in the line of fire.

Chief Petty Officer and Navy SEAL Collin Thomas paid visits to the Flyers organization several times and quickly developed a close and personal friendship.

Thomas was a highly decorated combat veteran and received numerous awards and citations during his 13 year Navy career including two Bronze Star Medals, six Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals, two Combat Action Ribbons and the distinguished Purple Heart. 

On August 18th was killed in the line of duty during a classified combat operation in eastern Afghanistan. 
Captain Mike Richards presented Collin’s parents Clayton and Paula Thomas with a framed team signed jersey in recognition of their son’s dedication to help serve and protect our country, while each member of the Flyers skated over to shake hands and express their sorrow to Mr. & Mrs. Thomas.  

“The ceremony was beautiful,” said Collins father Clayton. “We could not have asked for any higher honor than what happened today with the ovation the fans gave us and those players coming over and shaking our hands. I’m speechless, absolutely speechless.”

“That was awesome,” said Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette. “Talk about people giving their all… I was unaware that that was going to happen and I was touched by it. It was a great tribute to a great person.”

During and following the ceremony a standing ovation from the Philadelphia crowd lasted and lasted in a show of respect to the Thomas family.

“Obviously it was a pretty special moment, not only for the family, but obviously for us,” said Pronger. “They are people that do a great deal for us and it’s pretty easy to skate out there and shake somebody’s hand. It’s the least we could have done.”

Known to the Flyers and no doubt all those who knew him, Collin was a brave American patriot and an incredibly gifted Navy SEAL.

His relentless professionalism, inspiring passion for life and humble demeanor made him a role model for all who knew him.

“That was more spontaneous,” said Danny Briere of the team lining up to shake hands. “Sometimes you realize that it’s just a game we’re playing. What they are doing over there is serious stuff. It’s not an easy thing for parents like that to lose their sons. It was just a nice little way to say that we appreciate what they went through and what they are doing for us over there.”    
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