(Written by L.C. Fowler, NavySEAL.com) In this post, we'll explore the life and sad death of Navy SEAL Michael Ernst - who was he, and how did he die? A highly decorated serviceman with numerous awards to his name, Chief Special Warfare Operator Michael "Mike" Ernst's passing has left a significant impact on his family, friends, and fellow sailors.
We will explore the circumstances surrounding his untimely demise during a high-altitude low-opening (HALO) jump accident. Furthermore, we'll discuss Mike's illustrious career in the Naval Special Warfare Command since enlisting in 2009.
As we investigate who Navy SEAL Michael Ernst was and how he died, you'll also learn about ongoing investigations into his fatal accident as well as tributes from both military officials and members of his community. Finally, we will reflect upon Mike's legacy as a dedicated NSW sailor who served in three different theaters of war.
The Tragic Loss of Navy SEAL Michael Ernst
Ernst, a decorated U.S. Navy SEAL and father of two from Cohasset, Massachusetts, tragically died during free-fall parachute training in Marana, Arizona on February 19th while performing a high-altitude low-opening (HALO) jump at an airfield just outside Tucson.
High-altitude low-opening (HALO) jump accident
The HALO technique is used by military personnel to infiltrate enemy territory undetected by radar systems. This method involves jumping from an aircraft at high altitudes and deploying the parachute at lower altitudes for minimal detection risk. Unfortunately, something went wrong during this exercise involving Chief Special Warfare Operator Michael Ernst.
Taken to Banner University Medical Center in Phoenix
After the calamitous event, Ernst was rushed to Banner University Medical Center in Phoenix where he ultimately passed away despite medical personnel's attempts at reviving him. His passing serves as a stark reminder of the dangers faced daily by those serving within specialized fields like Navy seals operations.
Investigations into the Accident
Parachute training mishaps for Navy SEALs and other special forces personnel are not common, yet have occurred. In recent years, there have been several incidents resulting in injuries or fatalities among these elite soldiers while conducting similar exercises:
- In 2017, Chief Petty Officer Remington Peters tragically died after falling from an altitude of more than 4,000 feet during a demonstration at Liberty State Park in New Jersey (source).
- An unnamed sailor sustained fatal injuries while performing a high-altitude descent as part of routine military operations in September 2023 (source).
These incidents serve as sobering reminders about inherent risks associated with specialized fields like Navy SEALs operations but also highlight the commitment shown towards duty and honor amongst those brave individuals who choose this path despite potential dangers faced daily.
Cohasset Community Remembers Michael Ernst
As a native of Cohasset, Massachusetts, Ernst was remembered by the town through various social media posts that highlighted his achievements and dedication to service. The community mourned the loss of one of their own, expressing gratitude for his sacrifice and condolences to his family.
Social Media Tributes from the Community
The outpouring of support on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter showcased how much impact Michael had on those who knew him personally or were simply inspired by his story. Many shared heartfelt messages remembering Michael's unwavering commitment to serving our country as a dedicated NSW sailor in SEAL Team 8.
In addition to personal tributes from friends and neighbors, local organizations such as schools and sports teams also paid homage to this fallen hero with touching messages acknowledging both his bravery in combat situations overseas along with contributions made within local community circles back home.
Gratitude for Ernst's Service and Sacrifice
- Dedication: Residents praised Michael's unyielding dedication to protecting American freedoms throughout multiple deployments across three different theaters of war where he earned commendations including the Terrorism Expeditionary Medal among others.
- Mentorship: As a respected member of the Naval Special Warfare community, Michael was known for selflessly mentoring teammates and helping them grow both professionally and personally.
- Family: The Cohasset community extended their deepest sympathies to Ernst's family, especially his wife and two children who must now navigate life without their beloved husband and father. They also acknowledged the sacrifices made by military families in general as they support loved ones serving our nation.
Key Takeaway: Navy SEAL Michael Ernst, a native of Cohasset, Massachusetts, was remembered by his community for his unwavering commitment to serving the country and mentoring teammates. The community expressed gratitude for his service and sacrifice while extending condolences to his family after he died in the line of duty.
Legacy as a Decorated SEAL Serving in Three Theaters of War
Ernst's legacy as a decorated Navy SEAL is one of immense dedication and bravery, having served in three different theaters of war during his career. His numerous commendations are a testament to his exceptional skills and commitment to the United States.
In addition to the prestigious Silver Star, which he earned for valor in combat, Ernst was also awarded the Joint Commendation Medal for meritorious service while deployed on operations with joint forces. This medal recognizes exemplary achievements that significantly contribute to mission success or operational readiness.
- Served in three different theaters of war: Throughout his career, Michael Ernst displayed unwavering courage and determination by serving in multiple challenging environments across various regions around the world.
- Earned Joint Commendation Medal: As an outstanding member of Naval Special Warfare units, Ernst received this prestigious award due to his extraordinary accomplishments during joint military operations.
- Navy Marine Corps Achievement Medal: In recognition of professional achievement or leadership contributing significantly to U.S. naval service, Michael was honored with this esteemed accolade as well.
Beyond these notable awards, Ernst also held other distinctions such as the Combat Action Ribbon, Good Conduct Medal (with two stars), National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal (with bronze star), Iraq Campaign Medal (with bronze star), Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal (GWOTEM), and the NATO Medal.
Key Takeaway: Navy SEAL Michael T. Ernst was a decorated soldier who served in three different theaters of war and received numerous commendations, including the prestigious Silver Star and Joint Commendation Medal. He tragically died during parachute training in Perris, California, leaving behind his wife and family but inspiring future generations with his unwavering dedication to serving his country.
In conclusion, Chief Special Warfare Operator Michael Ernst was a highly decorated and respected member of the Naval Special Warfare Command who tragically lost his life during a parachute training accident. Michael Ernst was an exemplary serviceman, who provided guidance to his peers and demonstrated exceptional commitment to duty. Ernst enlisted in the Navy in 2006 and joined SEAL Team 8 after completing SEAL training. He was awarded numerous medals for his service, including the Terrorism Expeditionary Medal and NATO Medal.
Hooyah, Michael Ernst! You're truly missed!