A U.S. Naval Academy midshipman who died this week while on leave has been identified as 22-year-old Michael Myles James, a member of the class of 2022.
James was found unresponsive at his uncle’s home in Hiram, Georgia, on Wednesday morning, according to academy spokeswoman Cmdr. Alana Garas.
“The cause of death is being investigated, foul play is not suspected,” according to an academy statement.
Hiram police and the medical examiner there did not immediately return requests for further information.
James was born in Plainfield, New Jersey, but grew up in Hiram, where he was raised by his uncle, Linwood Welch Jr., according to the academy.
He played football and wrestled in high school. Later, he attended the Naval Academy Prep School before being selected for the academy and reporting to Annapolis in June 2018.
“I’m not ashamed to say that I loved every moment I spent with him,” said Pamela Schmitt, James’ academic advisor. “He was as kindhearted a soul as I’ve ever met, and he will be missed by everyone who knew him.”
“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,” she said in a statement.
James majored in English and played football his plebe year.
“We are heartbroken to hear of Myles’ passing,” the academy’s head football coach, Ken Niumatalolo, said in a statement. “Myles was a great young man and was beloved by his brothers/teammates. Rest in peace, Brother Myles.”
Midshipman 1st Class Yenuel OrtizRodriguez knew James since prep school and recalled him as a class clown with an infectious personality.
“But he was also so much more than that,” OrtizRodriguez said in a statement. “Myles was your brother, someone who always had your back and made sure you knew it.”
OrtizRodriguez recalled being homesick for his family in Puerto Rico, and James welcoming him “into his home and into his family with open arms.”
“He touched my heart, and I am forever grateful for meeting him,” OrtizRodriguez said.
James is survived by his uncle, Linwood Welch Jr., his mother, Stacy Welch and siblings, J.C. Thomas III and Brianna Thomas.
Counseling services and support are being provided to academy students and staff.
Funeral arrangements are pending, and more information will be provided as it becomes available.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.