A 26-year-old Navy commando who died in the waters off Key West Tuesday was a star high school soccer player from North Carolina who joined the military looking for the ultimate challenge, his family said.
Special Warfare Operator 2nd Class Ronald Tyler Woodle of Waynesville was conducting dive training -- the Navy would not specify where -- around 9 a.m. when his dive buddy reported him missing, according to the Navy.
Minutes later, Woodle's dive buddy found him unconscious, got him out of the water and began CPR, reports say. Woodle was taken to Lower Keys Medical Center, where he later died.
Woodle, who joined the Navy in 2007 and was stationed in Dam Neck, Va., was training in Key West in preparation for deployment overseas.
He was born in Asheville, N.C., where his parents, Ron and Kathi Woodle, still reside. He also is survived by two sisters, Jerica Woodle of Greenville, S.C., and Sumer Christenbury of Statesville, N.C.
His mother described him as a "consummate gentleman" who would help opposing players to their feet during high school and college soccer matches.
"When I think of Tyler, I think of his smile; he had such a big smile and a beautiful heart," she said in a prepared statement.
"He wanted to do what was the most challenging and toughest thing to do, which was to be a SEAL," Jerica Woodle added in the statement.
SEAL is an acronym for sea, air and land. SEALs are the Navy's Special Operations Forces known for their brutal training regimens, stealth and often classified, high-risk mission assignments.
Woodle is the second Special Operations Forces commando to die while training in Key West in the past 11 months. Army Special Forces Staff Sgt. Mark M. Maierson, 27, of Littleton, Colo., also died during water-related training, at the Army's Special Forces Underwater Operations School at Fleming Key in March.
The Navy has not yet completed its investigation into what caused Woodle's death.