Last week, the US Special Operations Command (SOCOM) reported the death of an East Coast-based decorated US Navy SEAL from Massachusetts.

According to the press release, Chief Petty Officer Michael Thomas Ernst participated in military free-fall training in an airfield in Marana, northwest of Tucson, when his parachute malfunctioned. His mishap was the first in the past six years.

Ernst was rushed to the University Medical Center in Phoenix, where he was pronounced dead around 2:07 PM (MST) Sunday, February 19, due to his fatal injuries.

The Navy did not disclose any information on how the mishap occurred, as the incident is still under investigation.

When the accident happened, Ernst was conducting a high-altitude, low-opening (HALO) jump.

HALO jump is a method of dispatching military personnel, typically from a transport aircraft at high altitude—generally 30 to 40 thousand feet—free-falling until reaching a lower height of at least 800 feet above the ground before opening the parachute. This military maneuver takes great discipline to pull off, used by special forces who received special training.

HALO is also used for delivering military equipment and other supplies. It was first used in the 1960s by the US Air Force, enabling personnel to cut down jump time to under two minutes at high altitudes.

Rear Admiral Keith Davids, the Naval Special Warfare Command commander, expressed his condolences to Ernst’s family, calling the decorated Navy SEAL “an exceptional teammate.”