NORFOLK, Va. (AP) – FBI Director Robert Mueller on Tuesday praised two agents who died while training off the Virginia Beach coast last weekend for their “true and unerring valor.”
Special Agents Christopher W. Lorek and Stephen P. Shaw were remembered Tuesday at a private memorial ceremony at the U.S. Marine Corps Memorial Chapel at Quantico , the agency reported on its website.
The agents fell to their deaths Friday when a helicopter ran into trouble during a “maritime counterterrorism exercise.” An FBI spokeswoman says the agents were in the process of fast-roping from the aircraft onto a ship when they “tragically fell a significant distance and suffered fatal injuries.”
Both were members of the bureau’s elite hostage rescue team, a group known most recently for rescuing an Alabama boy from a kidnapper in an underground bunker. The team is trained in military tactics and outfitted with combat-style gear and weapons. Some of their preparation consists of scuba diving, dropping quickly out of helicopters and battling in close quarters.
“We mourn the loss of two brave and courageous men,” Mueller said. “Like all who serve on the Hostage Rescue Team, they accept the highest risk each and every day, when training and on operational missions, to keep our nation safe. Our hearts are with their wives, children, and other loved ones who feel their loss most deeply.”
Lorek, 41, served on the team that rescued the boy in Alabama.
A native of Maywood, Ill., Lorek graduated from Texas A&M, joined the FBI in a professional support role in 1996 and became an agent two years later. His first field assignment was in Milwaukee. He graduated HRT operator training in 2008, serving with the team in Afghanistan.
Mueller praised Lorek as “intelligent, thoughtful, and always up for a challenge, with a ready smile on his face.” He is survived by his wife Jennifer and two daughters, ages 11 and 18.
Shaw, 40, was a native of Santa Paula, Calif., who entered the FBI in 2005. He graduated from HRT operator training in November 2011 and was recognized for his leadership skills and willingness to take on any task, the agency said.
“He seemed to genuinely like and take an interest in everyone around him, regardless of rank or situation,” the director said. “He was quick to make you feel like you were his best friend . his brother.”
Shaw is survived by his wife Stella, a daughter who turns 4 this week, and a 1-year-old son.
“True and unerring valor was a gift given to both Chris and Steve_a gift that was tested time and again, through their commitment to the FBI, to the Hostage Rescue Team, and to the citizens they served,” Mueller said.
The hostage rescue team is headquartered at the FBI Academy in Quantico in northern Virginia, although they train around the U.S. and can be deployed quickly anywhere.
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