A junior sailor drowned last month while kayaking in waters off Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida, officials have confirmed.

Aviation Structural Mechanic Airman Apprentice Jinghui Xiao, 29, was kayaking with two other people in Bayou Grande on the afternoon of Nov. 15, according to the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office.

At one point, Xiao “stepped into deeper water and drowned,” sheriff’s office spokeswoman Amber Southard said, and a Navy fire and rescue boat recovered his body at about 1:45 p.m.

Originally from California, Xiao enlisted in August and arrived at the Naval Air Technical Training Center aboard NAS Pensacola for school on Oct. 2, according to his service record.

His family could not be reached for comment.

The unit’s commander, Capt. Thomas Decker, said in a statement that the command “is saddened by the recent drowning death of Airman Apprentice Jinghui Xiao.”

“The safety of our Sailors and Marines on and off duty is a top priority at all times, especially as the holidays approach,” he said.

Chaplain support and other services were offered to the center’s students in staff in the wake of Xiao’s death, Decker said.

“We send our heartfelt condolences to his family and friends.”

Geoff is a senior staff reporter for Military Times, focusing on the Navy. He covered Iraq and Afghanistan extensively and was most recently a reporter at the Chicago Tribune. He welcomes any and all kinds of tips at geoffz@militarytimes.com.

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