The U.S. Defense Department on Monday identified a soldier who died on the weekend in a rescue operation in Afghanistan as a member of Navy SEAL Team Six, the special forces unit that killed Osama bin Laden last year.

Petty Officer 1st Class Nicolas D. Checque of Monroeville, Pennsylvania, died of wounds received Saturday during an operation to free U.S. Dr. Dilip Joseph of Morning Star Development.

Joseph and two co-workers had been kidnapped on Dec. 5 while on their way back to Kabul after a visit to a rural clinic.

The Pentagon did not say whether Checque took part in the Bin Laden mission.

The rescue operation was launched after NATO commanders received information that Dr. Joseph was in "imminent" danger in the hands of his captors.

Both President Barack Obama and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta hailed Checque's sacrifice and extended condolences to his family.

Checque "gave his life for his fellow Americans, and he and his teammates remind us once more of the selfless service that allows our nation to stay strong, safe and free," the president said in a statement. EFE