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Navy officer killed in Afghanistan receives Silver Star for bravery

September 23, 2011 |  4:05 pm

A Navy officer from Southern California who was killed in Afghanistan in 2009 was posthumously awarded the Silver Star in a ceremony Friday in Washington.

Brooke Toner, the widow of Navy Lt. (j.g.) Francis Toner, accepted the Silver Star from Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Toner, who was 26, was killed while he and other officers were running for exercise on March 27, 2009, at a base near Mazar-e-Sharif in northern Afghanistan. A Taliban fighter posing as an Afghan soldier shot the Americans point-blank.

While other officers lay wounded, Toner, who was unarmed, verbally challenged the gunman and moved directly toward him. He was fatally shot.

"He was basically walking straight into the enemy's fire," Mullen said. "We shouldn't -- and we won't -- ever, ever forgot that service, that sacrifice. Because that is what makes us strong, as a military and as a nation."

Toner faced death "tragically and heroically," Mullen said.

Toner was deployed to Afghanistan as an engineer assisting the Afghan army.

Born in Panorama City, he graduated in 2001 from Westlake High School, where he was a football star. He graduated from the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy before being commissioned in the Navy and attending civil engineers officer school at Port Hueneme.

In the attack that killed Toner, Navy Lt. Florence Choe of San Diego was also killed and a third officer was wounded. The gunman was killed.


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Photo: Brooke Toner receives Silver Star from Adm. Mike Mullen on behalf of her late husband, Lt. (j.g.) Francis Toner, whose picture is in background. Credit: Department of Defense