A U.S. Army Special Forces soldier died earlier this week while training at the Special Forces Underwater Operations School in Key West.
Staff Sgt. Micah E. Walker, 31, of Peyton, Colorado, died on Tuesday. He had been assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne) at Fort Carson, Colorado since March 2021.
The U.S. Army Combat Readiness Center at Fort Rucker in Alabama said it will lead the investigation and initially called the death a “drowning mishap” at Naval Air Station Key West.
But the cause is still under investigation, a spokesman for the 1st Special Forces Command said Thursday evening.
“The cause of death isn’t known at this time,” said Major Dan Lessard. “There are indications it could have been something else like cardiac arrest or some other issues. They called it a drowning initially but that’s kind of speculation.”
Walker, a student in the Special Forces Combat Diver Qualification Course, was in the pool taking part in a conditioning exercise that stresses the students’ cardio, respiratory and muscular endurance when he “submerged and did not resurface,” according to a statement from the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School.
He was taken to the Lower Keys Medical Center in Key West where he was pronounced dead.
“The Combat Diver Qualification Course is one of the most physically demanding courses within the Army,” the school said. “In accordance with Army policy, this accident will be investigated to determine cause of death and in hopes of preventing future accidents.”
Walker was a medical sergeant who joined the Green Berets earlier this year, the Stars and Stripes reported.
He left a wife and three children.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife and children, his parents and his teammates,” said Col. Lucas VanAntwerp, commander of the 10th Special Forces Group. “Micah was an exceptional Special Forces Operator, a loving husband and father. We grieve with the family and stand ready to honor Micah’s service and his legacy.”
Walker joined the Army in April 2017 and did entry training and airborne school at Fort Benning, Georgia. He completed the Special Forces Qualification Course in January 2021 as a special forces medical sergeant.
His awards and decorations include the Army Achievement Medal, the Army Good Conduct Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Army Service Ribbon, the Special Forces Tab and the Army Basic Parachutist Badge.