2017 Tillman Scholar

Kyle Milliken

The College of William and Mary

“Special Operations is all about the team. Part of being at my best as a leader is finding ways to make those around me better.”

Growing up in Maine, Kyle loved the competitive nature, teamwork, and group success involved in sports. He competed in Division 1 track and field at the University of Connecticut, where he earned a spot as a walk-on. Planning to enlist in the military post-graduation, Kyle saw the demanding training and exceptional capability of the SEAL community as the place where he had the opportunity to combine his love of competition and teamwork with his desire to make a positive impact on the world. While sitting with a Navy recruiter during his senior year to determine his enlistment date, he watched on television as two planes struck the World Trade Center towers. Nothing more was needed to steel his resolve to become a Navy SEAL.

Kyle served in East Coast-based Naval Special Warfare Units throughout his career. As a Senior Chief Petty Officer, he spent the last nine years at Naval Special Warfare Development Group deploying numerous times in support of a Joint Task Force conducting overseas contingency operations.

On May 5, 2017, Kyle was killed during a combat operation in East Africa. Throughout his service, Kyle earned a multitude of personal and unit awards including five Bronze Stars with valor for actions in both Iraq and Afghanistan and a Silver Star (posthumously) for heroic actions in combat. As a team leader, he recognized that positively influencing a culture inspired by open communication, competitiveness, and efficiency maximized the performance of those around him. He had aspirations of combining his battlefield experience with the leadership and management skills of his MBA education to mentor future SEAL leaders while continuing his service within the Naval Special Warfare community.

Kyle was an amazing father, husband, son, brother, and friend, whose passion for life was contagious. He is survived by his wife, two children, father, mother, brother, and countless other family, friends and teammates. He was the cornerstone of his family, friends, and team and will be profoundly missed.

Kyle’s legacy is one that his fellow Tillman Scholars carry forward with pride and honor.