A U.S. Marine and senior at the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis died on Tuesday while on leave from the academy.
In a Wednesday press statement, the Naval Academy identified the deceased Midshipman as 24-year-old Midshipman 1st Class (senior) Taylor Connors, of Pleasant View, Utah. Connors passed away in Philadelphia with family by his side. The exact cause of his death is unclear and is currently under investigation. Foul play is not suspected.
During his high school years, Connors attended the Utah Military Academy and attained the rank of group commander, where he had been responsible for over 250 cadets. He played varsity soccer and wrestled, and was a member of the National Honor Society and a Boy Scout.
Connors had enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps in 2016 and achieved the rank of corporal before receiving a Secretary of the Navy nomination for a Naval Academy appointment. Connors reported to the academy in June of 2019 and was to be a member of the academy’s 2023 graduating class.
“Our Naval Academy community is mourning a tragic loss this week of a life taken far too soon – Midshipman Taylor Connors honorably served his nation as a Marine and as a midshipman,” Naval Academy Superintendent Vice Adm. Sean Buck said. “Through the grieving process, I encourage members of the Brigade, faculty, and staff to reach out and offer support to one another from near and far this summer. My wife, Joanne, and I, and the entire Naval Academy community have Taylor’s family, friends, and fellow Marines and midshipmen in our thoughts during this difficult time.”
As a Marine Rifleman, Connors had been assigned to Fleet Anti-Terrorism Security Team (FAST) Company Bravo, Marine Corps Security Forces out of Yorktown, Virginia. He deployed to Bahrain and Rota, Spain. Connors had been an honor graduate of his corporal course. During his deployments, he had volunteered at a local school in Bahrain and at an animal refuge in Rota. His chain of command described him as “intelligent, a critical thinker, very thoughtful, physically tough and honest — a Blue Chip Marine.”
His decorations included the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, the National Defense Service Medal; Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal; Global War on Terrorism Service Medal; Sea Service Deployment Ribbon (2); Expert Rifle Qualification Badge (2); and Expert Pistol Qualification Badge (2).
Connors was a physics major at the Naval Academy. As a Midshipman, he was on the Jiu-jitsu team, was a member of the Semper Fi Society and competed with his companymates as an intramural sports athlete.
“Taylor Connors was the best of us. He was a true mentor and leader among his peers but I know he saw himself as a Marine infantryman first and foremost,” said Marine Corps Maj. David R. Emison II, the Naval Academy’s training officer. “There is something to be said about an ethos like the one he exemplified. Taylor was intensely bright, thoughtful, and a man of faith.”
Emison, who had been a mentor of Connors, said, “Although I am heartbroken for his family and those of us who were fortunate to have known him, it doesn’t make me any less grateful that men like him are still called to serve. Men like him make this way of life meaningful – I am honored that I had the pleasure to know him and learn from him.”