TUCSON, Ariz. - Brett D. Shadle always had wanted to be a member of the Navy's most elite special forces unit.
A year after enlisting, the Pennsylvania man made it happen and went on to become a highly decorated member of the Navy's famed SEAL Team 6.
U.S. military officials confirmed Saturday that Shadle, a 31-year-old special warfare operator chief, died Thursday afternoon when he and another SEAL collided in midair during a parachute training exercise over the rugged desert of southern Arizona.
Shadle was taken to University of Arizona Medical Center in Tucson, where he was pronounced dead. The other SEAL - an unidentified E-6 petty officer first class - remained in stable condition Saturday at the Tucson hospital.
Military officials said the accident was under investigation. Shadle and a fellow SEAL were practicing "routine military free-fall training" when the accident occurred, said U.S. Special Operations Command spokesman Kenneth McGraw. The SEALs collided in midair and landed in separate areas.
Family members said Shadle, of Elizabethville, Pa., was stationed in Virginia. He was married and had a 2-year-old son and 4-year-old daughter.
His uncle, Donald Shadle, 67, of Elizabethville expressed disbelief, saying his nephew had been on many overseas missions only to come back and get killed during a training exercise.
"He was always a good kid, and he always wanted to be a Navy SEAL and that's what he did," Donald Shadle said.
Shadle enlisted in the Navy in July 2000. The following year, he completed his SEAL training and was assigned to his first unit in early 2002.
Navy officials said Shadle had earned multiple Bronze Star medals with Valor and several service ribbons.