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Midshipman dies after being found unresponsive while on leave, Naval Academy says

WJLA – Washington D.C. logo WJLA – Washington D.C. 6/26/2021 Samantha Mitchell
a close up of a man wearing a suit and tie © Provided by WJLA – Washington D.C.

The cause of death of a  22-year-old Midshipman continues to be investigated after the Naval Academy says he died after he was found unresponsive. 

According to the academy, Midshipman Michael Myles James of Georgia was found unresponsive on the morning of June 23 while on leave. However, foul play is not suspected at this time. 

We are incredibly saddened by the death of Midshipman Myles James,” said Vice Adm. Sean Buck, 63rd Superintendent, U.S. Naval Academy. “My wife, Joanne, and I, on behalf of our Naval Academy family here in Annapolis including the many midshipmen, faculty, and staff who had formed close bonds with James, offer our deepest condolences to his family.

The academy says he was born in Plainfield, New Jersey, but that he grew up in Hiram, Georgia, and was raised by his uncle, Linwood Welch Jr. 

After graduating from McEachern High School in Powder Springs, Georgia, where he played football and wrestled, James went on to attend the Naval Academy Prep School before getting into the Naval Academy. He started in June of 2018 as an English major and was part of the Class of 2022, where he was a member of the 9th Company (later the 19th Company) and played football during his plebe year. 

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The academy says it is providing counseling services and support and funeral arrangements are in the works. The academy adds that it will "continue to support James’s family, friends, and loved ones during this time of grief."

James is survived by his uncle, his mother, Stacy Welch, and siblings J.C. Thomas III and Brianna Thomas. 

Friends and members of the Naval Academy said the following of James:

“We are heartbroken to hear of Myles’ passing,” said Ken Niumatalolo, head football coach at the Naval Academy. “Myles was a great young man and was beloved by his brothers/teammates. He was fun to be around and was a real jokester. Our deepest condolences go out to his family. Rest in peace, Brother Myles.”

“I’ve known Myles James since NAPS. He was the ‘class clown’ with the infectious personality and smile you could easily find yourself gravitating towards. 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. He would remind you to celebrate every aspect of life and to look good while you did it,” said Midshipman 1st Class (senior) Yenuel OrtizRodriguez. “Early on into our friendship I told Myles my family lived in Puerto Rico and I was not able to visit them often. Without hesitation Myles welcomed me into his home, and into his family with open arms. He touched my heart and I am forever grateful for meeting him.”

“Myles James was endearing and had an infectious personality,” said Pamela Schmitt, Dean of Student Academic Development and James’s academic advisor. “I'm not ashamed to say that I loved every moment I spent with him. He was as kind hearted 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.”

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