A decorated U.S. Navy SEAL has died after suffering a mishap during a free-fall parachute training exercise in Arizona, according to reports.
Chief Special Warfare Operator Michael Ernst was pronounced dead at a hospital in Phoenix Sunday afternoon following the incident the Naval Special Warfare Command said.
Ernst earned the Silver Star, the nation’s third-highest for valor in combat, the Joint Commendation Medal (with Combat Device), Army Commendation Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal (3 awards), Army Achievement Medal, Combat Action Ribbon, Good Conduct Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Sea Service Deployment Ribbon (3 awards), and the NATO Medal.
Rear Adm. Keith Davids, the leader of Naval Special Warfare Command, said: “Our thoughts and prayers are with the Ernst family.
“Mike was an exceptional teammate.
“He was a dedicated NSW Sailor who applied his talents and skills towards some of our nation’s hardest challenges, while selflessly mentoring his teammates.
“Mike and his family will always be part of the NSW family, and he will never be forgotten.”
U.S. Navy Chief Special Warfare Operator Michael Ernst (SEAL) has died during a parachute training exercise. May the Lord welcome him home with open arms and comfort his family and friends 🙏🏻 pic.twitter.com/SXp4Kpfdml
— Douglas M. Ducote Sr. (@RealDMDucoteSr) February 23, 2023
Ernst was from Massachusetts.
He enlisted in the Navy in 2009.
He was serving in an East Coast-based naval special warfare unit at the time of the parachute training mishap.
“The Navy is investigating the cause of the incident,” the Naval Special Warfare Command said.
“It would be inappropriate to comment further on the ongoing investigation until complete.”
Navy SEAL killed in free-fall parachute accident in Arizona https://t.co/6MqE0SYjAC
— Fox News (@FoxNews) February 23, 2023
— Operation Hawkeye (@op_hawkeye) February 22, 2023
According to USNI News:
The mishap happened when Chief Special Warfare Operator Michael T. Ernst was participating in parachute training at an airfield in Marana, which is northwest of Tucson, according to Naval Special Warfare Command in Coronado, Calif.
Ernst, who was assigned to an East Coast-based naval special warfare unit, was taken to Banner University Medical Center in Phoenix and was pronounced dead shortly after 2 p.m., command officials said in a statement.