Special operations soldier in Florida dies suddenly after illness

Sgt. 1st Class Levi Presley, a special operations soldier, died Dec. 12, 2020, in Florida, the 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne) said this week.


By CHAD GARLAND | STARS AND STRIPES Published: December 16, 2020

A special operations soldier and father of six died from “unforeseen medical complications” in Florida last week, the military said Tuesday.

Sgt. 1st Class Levi A. Presley, a member of 3rd Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne) and a veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, died in Fort Walton Beach on Saturday, the Army said in a statement.

“Levi was a great soldier and hero, both to his family at home and to his 7th Group family,” said Col. John W. Sannes, 7th SFG(A) commander. “We, as an organization, are proud to have served with him and he will truly be missed.”

A graduate of Airborne School and the Army’s Space Cadre basic course, he had earned the Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal with oak leaf cluster and Army Achievement Medal with two oak leaf clusters among his many awards and decorations.

“Our efforts now are to provide the best possible support and care for his family,” Sannes said in the Army statement.

The 34-year-old was a satellite communications operator, command spokesman Maj. Andrew Harshbarger said in an email Wednesday.

Friends grieved his death in social media posts, recalling Presley as a proud father, devoted husband and a true professional.

Mary Dague, a former Navy explosive ordnance disposal technician, described a rapid decline in Presley's health in a post on Twitter.

“2 days ago, my friend was sick. Around midnight, he was dead,” Dague wrote on Sunday. “The world is out one stellar human being. And I’d be lying if I said I’m not pissed about it.”

A user who appeared to be the soldier's wife, Erin Presley, responded to one of Dague's posts about his death.

“To my loving husband. You made me better. You made us better. You made them better. There will be no replacing the hole in everyone’s hearts with your loss,” she wrote. “Until we meet again, dance in the moonlight. I love you.”

Presley’s death was not associated with the coronavirus, Harshbarger said, citing privacy laws as preventing disclosure of further information about the fatal medical complications.

Presley’s friends will always remember him, Dague wrote on Twitter.

“Whatever is on the other side, I hope we can all meet up there for a drink and a game someday,” Dague wrote.

Twitter: @chadgarland