Luke Gabriel Bird, Navy Midshipman, Dies After Falling over a Chilean Waterfall

Faye Higbee

Midshipman 2nd Class Luke Gabriel Bird, 21, became the 2nd Naval Academy Midshipman to die in the last two months after slipping and falling to his death over a waterfall during a hike in Chile. He was there to participate in a semester study abroad program with the Arturo Prat Naval Academy (the Chilean Naval Academy). He was a Junior at the US Naval Academy in Annapolis.

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“Luke was an unfathomably smart midshipman. We attended many courses together, allowing me to get to know him beyond just being company mates. He mentored, and tutored me in our shared courses, spending much of his free time helping me. He greatly exemplified the hard working midshipman who helps anyone at the drop of a hat,” He was a great man and will be dearly missed by all those in 20th Company and throughout the brigade.”

Midshipman 1st Class (senior) Travis Delgado, a friend of Bird’s and fellow Texan (USNA)

According to the Military Times, Luke went hiking with a Chilean Academy student near the Salto El Agua waterfall in Placilla near Valparaiso on Saturday. He slipped and fell over the waterfall, and Chilean authorities found him dead Sunday in the waterfall’s lagoon. A rescue team was dispatched and retrieved his body by helicopter.

Midshipman Luke Gabriel Bird had many accolades, and was by all accounts a great up and coming leader.

Bird attended New Braunfels High School, where he was a three-year wrestling team member and captain both junior and senior years. He was an avid cyclist, active in student government, vice president of the National Honor Society, and the battalion commander of the NBHS Marine Corps JROTC unit. In November 2018, he was selected as one of only five Marine Corps JROTC cadets in the nationwide program to receive a Legion of Valor Bronze Cross for Achievement, recognizing outstanding achievement in scholastic and military subjects outstanding leadership demonstrated in both school and in the community.

At the Naval Academy, Bird was a member of the 20th and 2nd Companies. He was an ocean engineering major, an active member of the Semper Fi Society, and competed with his company mates as an intramural sports athlete…

Bird was authorized to wear the National Defense Service Medal and had earned the Marksman Rifle Qualification Badge and Sharpshooter Pistol Qualification Badge.

The Midshipmen Development Center, Chaplain’s Center, and chain of command are providing grief counseling and support services to midshipmen, faculty, and staff.

The U.S. Naval Academy, U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/U.S. 4th Fleet, U.S. Southern Command, and the U.S. Embassy in Chile are grateful to the Chilean firefighters, police, and armed forces for their tireless efforts to locate our midshipman.


The Naval Academy has lost two of its best and brightest in just the last two months. Taylor Connors died while on leave from the Academy in June. Midshipman Luke Gabriel Bird will be missed.


Featured screenshot via US Naval Academy

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