Lt. Col. Thomas A. Budrejko was a Class of 1996 United States Naval Academy graduate with a degree in Aerospace Engineering. He ran track and played football during his time at Montville High School, where he graduated in 1992. He was an active man who also liked wrestling, hiking, and landscaping. He served in Kosovo, Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan. He was the Executive Officer of Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 469 at Marine Corps Air Station at Camp Pendleton. During 15 years of distinguished service, Lt. Col. Budrejko served in Afghanistan, Kosovo, and three times in Iraq. The 37-year-old AH-1W Cobra attack helicopter pilot was preparing for another deployment to Afghanistan when he was died tragically.

On February 22nd, 2012, Lt. Col. Budrejko died along with six other Marines during a training accident when two helicopters collided near Yuma, AZ. Lt. Col. Budrejko was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal, Individual Action Air Medal with Combat “V” (gold numeral 2) and Air Medal Strike/Flight (numeral 19), and the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal w/ Combat “V” (fourth award), National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal and Global War on Terrorism Service Medal.

He is survived by his wife, his son, his parents, and his siblings. “I always knew how great he was, but to hear it from so many people meant so much to our family,” his sister, Navy Reserve LT Catherine Alexander said. “This is where we learned about so many accomplishments that Tom had never bragged about to us.”

Lt. Col. Budrejko was honored through the Travis Manion Foundation Character Does Matter program presented during the USNA’s Summer Seminar and USNA STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) Camp for rising 11th graders.

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