A Navy SEAL based in Virginia Beach was one of four U.S. special forces members killed Saturday in Afghanistan when their vehicle hit an explosive device, a Navy spokesman said yesterday.

Petty Officer 1st Class Brian Ouellette, 37, was a Massachusetts native who had been a member of the Navy's elite special forces for 13 years. He is the fifth Navy SEAL from Virginia Beach to die in Afghanistan, officials said.

"He was dearly loved; he will be missed by family and a numerous, and I mean numerous, amount of friends and colleagues," Peg Ouellette said of her son from her home in Maynard, Mass. "There is no word that can express our pain right now."

Ouellette was the third-eldest of Peg and Jack Ouellette's eight children. He had six brothers and a sister, his mother said.

He was born and raised in Waltham, Mass., and graduated from Waltham High School in 1985. "Brian was a fierce competitor in sports," adding that he played lacrosse and football in high school, his mother said.

He also had a black belt in Kempo-style karate, she added.

Ouellette, who was not married, is survived by nine nieces and nephews, Peg Ouellette said. "He loved children," she said.

His mother said she last heard from her son by e-mail 21/2 weeks ago. Asked whether it was his first tour in Afghanistan, she said: "We would not know. He was special forces."

In Waltham, Ouellette was remembered as a dedicated SEAL, a member of an elite force that undergoes some of the toughest military training in the world.

"Once he got in there and got a taste of it, he wouldn't be denied," Jim Stanley, a friend and former roommate, told Boston television station WBZ-TV, according to the Associated Press. "That's really what he wanted to do."

Navy officials said Ouellette joined the Navy in 1990 and became a SEAL in 1991. He was attached to Navy Special Warfare Group Two at Little Creek Amphibious Base and had been in Afghanistan since April, according to Lt. John Perkins, a spokesman for Naval Special Warfare Group Two.

The four servicemen killed were on patrol when their Humvee "hit some type of land mine or some type of improvised explosive device," Perkins said. They were traveling in Zabul province, about 240 miles southwest of the capital, Kabul.

The three others killed in the incident, according to the Pentagon, were members of the Army: Capt. Daniel W. Eggers, 28, of Cape Coral, Fla.; Staff Sgt. Robert J. Mogensen, 26, of Leesville, La.; and Pfc. Joseph A. Jeffries, 21, of Beaverton, Ore.

All four were members of the Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force Afghanistan.

At least 89 U.S. service personnel, including 55 killed in action, have died in and around Afghanistan since U.S. forces invaded the country in October 2001.