We are on record as struggling with this edition of the Dark Ages and when that envelops you, it is easy to spiral downward. As the family’s resident optimist, I have continued to put on a smile for the girls at home and encourage them that everything will work out in the end, that better days are coming.
Then we got the news.
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ANNAPOLIS, Maryland — U.S. Naval Academy Midshipman 3rd Class (sophomore) Duke Carrillo, 21, of Flower Mound, Texas, died while taking the semi-annual physical readiness test, Feb. 8. Carrillo collapsed during the 1.5 mile run portion of the PRT; initial responders provided exhaustive resuscitation efforts. He was rushed to Anne Arundel Medical Center where he was pronounced deceased at 12:23 p.m. Circumstances surrounding the cause of his death are under review. "My wife, Joanne, and I join the Brigade, staff and faculty in mourning the sudden and tragic loss of Midshipman Duke Carrillo,” said Vice Adm. Sean Buck, 63rd Superintendent, U.S. Naval Academy. “Our most heartfelt sympathies and condolences go out to the entire Carrillo family, and our extended Naval Academy family, during this extremely difficult time.” Upon completing a year at the Naval Academy Preparatory School in Newport, R.I., Carrillo and his twin brother, Dylan, reported to Annapolis for the Class of 2022’s Induction Day on June 28, 2018. Duke was a Quantitative Economics major and had earned a 4.0 last semester. He was a member of the 24th Company, an avid intramural athlete, and a member of the Naval Academy’s Flight Training Squadron, VT-NA. He had served as a Naval Academy Summer Seminar squad leader this past summer, and had aspirations of being a naval aviator. “Duke was an active member of 24th company; he was able to have a special and close relationship with each of his classmates and company mates,” said 24th Company Officer Lt. Sara Lewis. “I am honestly able to say he was friends with everyone and uplifted those around him. Due to his calm and loving personality, he will be especially missed in 24th company.” He is survived by his parents, Gerald and Jennifer, and his brothers Dylan and Jake, who are both Naval Academy midshipmen. Dylan is a youngster, or sophomore, in the Class of 2022, and Jake is a plebe, or freshman, in the Class of 2023.
First, we heard that a Mid had suffered a heart attack during PRT, which quickly turned into news that he had passed away. When something bad happens at the Academy – or in the Navy for that matter – you scramble for information. What happened? Who was it? Is everyone OK?
The news got worse and worse. Duke Carrillo, a beloved youngster, had died during PRT. He had not one, but two brothers at the Academy, working their PRT just like him. I cannot even fathom that scene, nor can I pretend to understand what the family is going through right now.
To have a child at the United States Naval Academy is a source of pride. To have three there at one time? At some point, I can only imagine the parents had to pinch themselves. Now, I am certain they wish someone would wake them from this nightmare.
I know students at other universities pass away under truly sad circumstances. There’s something different at the military academies. While these brave young men and women have signed on to put their lives at risk for our benefit, each loss is devastating. They become close – maybe not buddy-buddy, but close in ways most of us will never understand. They spend so much time, so close, and under so much pressure, the bonds forged are as strong as their will to serve.
So when a member of the USNA family passes, we all lose someone, a little piece of ourselves. It happened when we lost Christopher Sears when he succumbed to leukemia. It happened more recently when Kaleb Watson’s bravery and commitment cost him his life. And now, we have lost Duke.
Our Academy family has reached out with all the love it can muster because #YourMidIsMyMid. Grant Vermeer of Academy Insider spoke to all of our hearts.
We will likely never understand why Duke was taken from us and all we can do is offer his family love and support, and pray for Duke fair winds and following seas.
You can send cards and notes to:
The Carrillo Family
1201 Sweetwater Lane
Flower Mound, TX 75028