A U.S. Navy SEAL died over the weekend in a non-training-related sky diving incident in Southern California, officials confirmed.
Commander Seth A. Stone, 41, died Saturday while sky diving in Perris, California. Stone was assigned to Special Operations Command Pacific and was on leave at the time of his death.
“The Naval Special Warfare community is deeply saddened and mourns the tragic loss of one of our best,” said Rear Admiral Tim Szymanski, who oversees all Navy SEALS. “Seth’s absence will be sorely felt across the staff, command and the entire special operations community. NSW is a close-knit family, and our primary focus is to provide care and support for Cmdr. Stone’s family.”
Lt. Commander Mark Walton, of the Naval Special Warfare Command public affairs office in Coronado, California, told NBC 7 Stone’s death was not related to any kind of Naval training exercise.
Stone’s death is being investigated by law enforcement agencies in Riverside County.
Walton said Stone was assigned to the headquarters staff of Special Operations Command in Hawaii where he developed and provided guidance on current operations and plans.
He had also trained in Coronado over the course of his career.
The highly-decorated combat veteran completed multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. During the Battle of Ramadi in Iraq in 2006, Stone led his team against an enemy force, directing reinforcements, providing cover fire and dragging a critically wounded comrade to safety, the U.S. Navy said. For this, Stone was awarded a second Silver Star.
His awards and decorations also include the Silver Star with Gold Star, Bronze Star with Valor device, Army Commendation Medal with Valor device, Navy Commendation Medal, Navy Achievement Medal and Meritorious Unit Commendation.
“As a Navy SEAL Cmdr. Stone epitomized the warrior ethos, risking his life on many occasions in combating our nations’ enemies,” a statement released Monday by the U.S. Navy read. “He saved countless U.S. service members and helped bring stability to embattled regions of the world. Outside of the military, he was liked by everyone fortunate enough to cross his path. He made great friendships and found solace in pursuing his passion for surfing and other adventurous activities.”
Stone graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, in 1999. His past assignments include Naval Special Warfare Command and the USS Gettysburg (CG-64).
The Navy said Stone’s military training includes Navy Freefall Parachutist, Basic Underwater Demolitions/SEAL, Survival Evasion Resistance Escape (SERE), Airborne, Special Operations Survival Training, Tomahawk Watch Officer, Basic Aegis Officer Console Operator, Surface Warfare Gunnery and Harpoon Officer.
No further details were released on what lead to Stone’s death during Saturday’s sky diving session.