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Naval Academy identifies midshipman who died on leave as Michael Myles James

Midshipman 1st Class Michael Myles James, 22, a former football player at the Naval Academy, died while on summer leave, the Naval Academy announced Thursday.

James was recruited as a defensive end and played linebacker his plebe year, according to a Navy Football roster from 2018. He graduated from McEachern High School and was from Hiram, Georgia.

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James was found unresponsive on June 23. A cause of death is still under investigation, but foul play is not suspected, according to a Naval Academy news release.

James was a member of the class of 2022 and the Ninth Company, later the 19th Company. He studied English. Prior to attending the Naval Academy, he went to the Naval Academy Prep School.

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The academy is supporting friends, family and loved ones of the late midshipman. The institution will also have counseling services and support available to faculty, coaches, staff and midshipmen through chains of command, chaplains and the Midshipman Development Center.

Navy Football Coach Ken Niumatalolo wrote that the football team would dedicate the season in honor of James, in a tweet Thursday.

“We are heartbroken to hear of Myles’ passing,” Niumatalolo said in the release. “Myles was a great young man and was beloved by his brothers/teammates. He was fun to be around and was a real jokester.”

James was considered the class clown and had an infectious personality, Midshipman 1st Class Yenuel OrtizRodriguez said in the release.

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“But he was also so much more than that; Myles was your brother, someone who always had your back and made sure that you knew it,” OrtizRodriguez said in the release. “He would remind you to celebrate every aspect of life and to look good while you did it.”

Midshipman Michael Myles James, 22, of Hiram, Georgia, was found unresponsive the morning of June 23 while on leave from the U.S. Naval Academy. The cause of death is being investigated; foul play is not suspected. - Original Credit:
Midshipman Michael Myles James, 22, of Hiram, Georgia, was found unresponsive the morning of June 23 while on leave from the U.S. Naval Academy. The cause of death is being investigated; foul play is not suspected. - Original Credit: (Courtesy of USNA / HANDOUT)

The midshipman was kindhearted and will be missed, said his academic adviser, Pamela Schmitt, dean of Student Academic Development.

“I wish I’d had the opportunity to give him a big ol’ hug, because when I heard the news, every bone in my body hurt,” Schmitt said in the release.

James is survived by his uncle, Linwood Welch Jr. who raised him. He is also survived by his mother Stacy Welch and his two siblings, J.C. Thomas III and Brianna Thomas. Funeral arrangements are pending.

This is the 14th midshipman death in eight years, and the second in a year’s time at the academy, according to previous Capital reporting. Midshipman 1st Class John Johnson died in December while on leave.

Johnson is the first midshipman to receive his posthumous degree under a new policy that allows midshipmen who have met the academic requirements for their degrees and are approved by the academic board.

Midshipman 1st Class David Forney and Midshipman 3rd Class Duke Carrillo died in February 2020. Forney, of Walkersville, Maryland, was found unresponsive in his dormitory room Feb. 20. Carrillo, 21, collapsed while taking a physical readiness test Feb. 8 and was later pronounced dead at Anne Arundel Medical Center.

The midshipman will be the fourth off-duty/recreational death in 2021 for the United States Navy, according to the Naval Safety Center statistics. Nine members of the Navy, including Johnson, died while off-duty in 2020.

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