ANNAPOLIS, Md. — The Naval Academy on Tuesday announced the death of a midshipman from Utah.
Taylor Connors, a 24-year-old senior from Pleasant View, Utah died while on leave in Philadelphia.
Although circumstances surrounding his death are currently under investigation, foul play is not suspected.
Family was reportedly at Connors' bedside at the time of his death.
“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 and a mentor to Connors. “There is something to be said about an ethos like the one he exemplified. Taylor was intensely bright, thoughtful, and a man of faith.”
His passing comes as a shock to those who served alongside him and his community back in Utah.
“This is really heartbreaking for us,” said Chief Kelly Martin, Connors’ former teacher at the Utah Military Academy’s Riverdale location.
“While he was here he was the soccer coach, he was a drill team commander, he was our group commander,” said Martin. “He had those leadership qualities.”
As group commander, Connors was responsible for over 250 cadets. He enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps in 2016 before receiving a Secretary of the Navy nomination to the Naval Academy. He joined the Class of 2023 in June 2019.
“He had the ability to set himself apart,” said Martin. “He did his very best dotting the I’s, crossing the T’s. Taking care of people.”
Martin described Connors as a mentor and friend to all.
“One of the boys that shared with me yesterday in our Messenger group said, ‘He made me feel like I fit in. Even though I wasn’t a military guy and I wasn’t going to be there, he just made me feel like I fit in,’” said Martin. “I think that’s what set him apart.”
Connors was a physics major and served as 2nd Company First Sergeant. While with the Marines, Connors was deployed to Spain and Bahrain, where he was noted for his volunteer work with a school and animal refuge.
In a post to Twitter, Utah Gov. Spencer Cox expressed his sorry over the death of Connors.
"Heartbroken to hear about the passing of Midshipman 1st Class Taylor Connors. We are all profoundly grateful for his service. Please keep his family, loved ones, and fellow service members in your prayers during this most difficult time," wrote Cox.
Funeral arrangements will be provided as it becomes available.
“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,” said Vice Adm. Sean Buck, 63rd Superintendent, U.S. Naval Academy. “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.”
“Connors left a mark on us. When you still feel people in your heart even though you haven’t seen them in a long time, they leave a mark on your heart,” said Martin. “You know, that’s the biggest legacy we can leave: is how we treat other people.”