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Naval Academy midshipman who died while on leave identified as former U.S. Marine

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Midshipman First Class Taylor Connors

Capital Gazette Staff

The Capital, Annapolis, Md.

Jun. 8—A midshipman who had served in the U.S. Marine Corps died early Tuesday morning while on leave from the U.S. Naval Academy, the academy announced.

Midshipman First Class Taylor Connors, 24, died in Philidelphia with family at his bedside, the academy said in a news release. The circumstances surrounding his death are being determined, and foul play is not suspected.

A native of Pleasant View, Utah, Connors attended Utah Military Academy, where he played varsity soccer, wrestled and made the rank of group commander, the release said. He had enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps in 2016 and achieved the rank of corporal before he was nominated for appointment to the Naval Academy. He started at the academy in June 2019.

Marine Corps Maj. David R. Emison II, who was a training officer and mentor to Connors, said in the release Connors was “the best of us.”

“There is something to be said about an ethos like the one he exemplified. Taylor was intensely bright, thoughtful, and a man of faith,” Emison said.

His chain of command in the Marines described him as a “Blue Chip Marine,” calling him “intelligent, a critical thinker, very thoughtful, physically tough and honest.”

Connors served as a Plebe Summer squad leader at the academy, where he was responsible for transitioning new midshipmen candidates from being civilians into midshipmen, the release says. In the Fall 2021 semester, Connors served as the 2nd Company First Sergeant, where he worked alongside the company commander and executive officer and was responsible for “ensuring accountability during day-to-day company operations,” the release said. He was also a member of the academy’s 23rd and 16th Companies.

The Marine was a physics major, and was on the academy’s jiu-jitsu team. He was a member of the Semper Fi Society and competed with his companymates as an intramural sports athlete.

The academy has made counseling services available to mids, faculty and staff through chains of command, academy chaplains and the Midshipmen Development Center.

“My wife, Joanne, and I, and the entire Naval Academy community have Taylor’s family, friends, and fellow Marines and midshipmen in our thoughts during this difficult time,” said Vice Admiral Sean Buck, the academy’s superintendent, in the release. He said Connors “honorably served his nation as a Marine and as a midshipman” and encouraged the Brigade of Midshipmen, faculty and staff to “offer support to one another from near and far this summer.”

The Brigade, faculty and staff were notified of the midshipman’s death Tuesday morning, the academy said.

Connors’ death follows the April death of 2018 Naval Academy graduate Aaron Paul Fowler, who was found unresponsive during a training exercise at the Marine Corps Base Hawaii in Kaneohe Bay.

Michael Myles James, a 22-year-old midshipman and Navy football player, died while on summer leave last June. His death was ruled as an accident caused by fentanyl toxicity.

In December 2020, John Johnson, a 22-year-old first class midshipman, died in a drowning incident. In May 2020, Midshipman First Class David Forney, 22, also a Navy football player, died of cardiac arrest in his dormitory in Bancroft Hall. His death followed the funeral of fellow Midshipman Duke Carrillo, 21, who died earlier in the year during a physical readiness test.

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