A Winchester sailor died during a training exercise Thursday with the Navy off the coast of North Carolina.
Petty Officer Second Class Taylor Gallant, 22, was assigned to the Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit 12 on board the Canadian navy ship HMCS Summerside, according to a news release from the Navy Expeditionary Combat Command public affairs office. He was transported to Naval Hospital Camp Lejeune and was pronounced dead on arrival.
John Gay, public affairs officer for NECC, said Gallant’s death is under investigation, as the NECC and the Naval Safety Center determine exactly what went wrong.
Gallant enlisted in the Navy in 2008, and he reported to EODMU 12 in November 2010. He earned the Good Conduct Medal, the National Defense Service Medal and the Pistol Marksman Medal, according to the Navy.
His unit was operating with the HMCS Summerside in preparation for Bold Alligator 2012, a land and water training exercise, the Navy said. The exercise took place in 110-foot-deep waters.
Gay said Gallant and his unit were conducting the training in the Cherry Point Operating Area, an area off the coast designated for military training. The exercise Thursday was routine.
Gay said accidents like Gallant’s do not happen a lot.
“This was an anomaly, and that’s why we’re conducting a complete, thorough investigation to determine exactly what went wrong,” he said. “. ... And we really need to determine what caused the death and also try to prevent it in the future.”
Gay said investigators of the accident are looking at all the equipment Gallant was using at the time of the accident and also his personal physiology.
Bill Taylor, Gallant’s grandfather, said family members are not ready to discuss what happened.
Commander Eric Bray, Gallant’s commanding officer, extended his condolences to the Gallant family in a news release.
“My thoughts and prayers are with all who are suffering the loss of Petty Officer Gallant. He was a great shipmate and friend to the entire EOD community. We will miss him dearly,” Bray said.
According to a fact sheet about the U.S. Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal, the force has the only capability of its kind within the Department of Defense. EOD officers are “highly trained, skilled technicians who are experts in explosives, diving and parachuting,” the fact sheet states.
Gay said because of the possible threat of waterborne mines, all EOD officers have to be diving experts.
“So they’re a very highly skilled force ... he was among an elite group of men and women,” Gay said.
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