Funeral today for Petty Officer Strange

PHILADELPHIA - August 18, 2011

Services will be held for Petty Officer 1st Class Michael Strange from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday at the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul. A funeral Mass will follow at 3 p.m.

"Michael was killed doing what he loved, he died serving alongside some of the finest men our country will ever see," said aunt Maggie O'Brien outside the Basilica.

The 25-year-old cryptologic technician had been assigned to the Navy SEAL team whose Chinook was shot down Aug. 6 by a rocket-propelled grenade.

The 2004 graduate of North Catholic High School was among 30 Americans and eight Afghans who died.

Flags will fly at half-staff all day in honor of Strange. He will be buried at a later date in a private ceremony.

Action News spoke to Strange's family shortly after the crash.

"There were three Navy SEALs here yesterday that brought the news of my son," said Strange's father, Charles.

This was his third tour in Afghanistan and while his family is devastated, they are proud of his service to America.

"Michael loved protecting our country. We were very proud of him and he succeeded with the Navy SEALs. He became an E-6 in four years, that's how dedicated he was," said the victim's father.

Strange also leaves behind two younger siblings and his mother, a Philadelphia police officer.

"He knew what he was getting into. It's something that he trained for, something that he wanted," said Charles Strange Jr., the victim's brother.

Sources tell Action News that Petty Officer Strange just purchased a new home in Virginia, where he was stationed, and had just become engaged.

"Michael loved this country, he loved Philadelphia, he loved North Catholic, he loved Mayfair, he loved his friends, he loved all you guys," said Charles Strange Sr.

Petty Officer Strange was a member of SEAL Team Six, the unit that carried out the raid back in May that killed Osama Bin Laden.

According to the Pentagon, none of the service members involved in the Bin Laden raid were killed in this attack.

This most recent attack now ranks among the deadliest single days for American forces since the war began.

On Wednesday, more than 1,000 people attended a memorial service for a central Pennsylvania airman who also died in the crash.

Comrades and friends poured into Red Lion Area High School on Wednesday night to reminisce about the different sides of 28-year-old Daniel Zerbe. They knew him as a seemingly fearless fighting man who became a leader among his peers and a cut up who enjoyed joking with friends and schoolmates.

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