The Navy SEAL who died in a free-fall parachute training accident in Arizona on Sunday has been identified as Chief Special Warfare Operator Michael Ernst. The incident occurred at an airfield in Marana, Arizona, on February 19. He was rushed to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Who was Michael Ernst?

Michael Ernst enlisted in the Navy in the year 2009. He attended SEAL training in 2010 after which he was assigned to an East Coast Special Warfare Unit where he was awarded the Silver Star, which is the military’s third-highest decoration for valor in combat. Ernst also received a  number of other awards, including the Joint Commendation Medal, the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal and Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Fox News reported.

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Following his death, Rear Adm. Keith Davids, the commander of Naval Special Warfare Command, called Ernst 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,” he said, CNN reported.

“Mike and his family will always be part of the NSW family, and he will never be forgotten,” he added.

The cause of the accident is being investigated.

“It would be inappropriate to comment further on the ongoing investigation until complete,” the Naval Special Warfare Command said in a statement, Fox News reported.

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Ernst was not the first Navy SEAL to have died in a training accident. In 2021, Cmdr. Brian Bourgeois died during a fast-rope training in Virginia Beach. Cmdr. Brian Bourgeois had more than 20-year long career in the military during which he was awarded the Bronze Star.