Christopher Chambers, Former Maryland and UMass Swimmer, Killed in Military Operation

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Christopher Chambers, Former Maryland and UMass Swimmer, Killed in Military Operation

Christopher Chambers, a former swimmer at UMass and the University of Maryland, was one of two Navy SEALs declared dead after a mission off the coast of East Africa, the military confirmed on Tuesday.

Chambers was a Navy Special Warfare Operator 1st Class. He and Navy Special Warfare Operator 2nd Class Nathan Gage Ingram were involved in a mission off the coast of Somalia on Jan. 11 when they were swept into the water. U.S. Central Command made public their names on Monday.

Chambers was 37 years old. He joined the Navy in 2012.

Chambers and Ingram boarded a ship suspected of carrying weapons made in Iran being transported to Yemen through the Arabian Sea. The members of SEAL Team 3 boarded the ship, but when Ingram was knocked off by high waves, Chambers attempted to save him. Both were pulled into the water.

A search-and-rescue mission was called off on Sunday, with the Navy transition to a recovery mission. The Navy’s 5th Fleet is investigating the incident.

“Chris and Gage selflessly served their country with unwavering professionalism and exceptional capabilities,” said Capt. Blake Chaney, commander of Naval Special Warfare Group 1, which oversees SEAL Team 3. “This loss is devastating for NSW, our families, the special operations community, and across the nation.”

Chambers was born in Maryland and split his time in high school between Bishop McNamara and Westfield High. He graduated in 2005, when he was a Massachusetts state champion in the 50 free. He spent one year at UMass, placing in the top 16 at the Atlantic 10 Championships, before transferring to Maryland, where he swam (for then head coach Dave Durden) and served as the Terrapins mascot. His sister, Melanie, swam at Loyola in Maryland.

A sports commerce major and culture minor, he graduated in 2009 and enlisted in the Navy in 2012. He graduated from SEAL training two years later.

The University of Maryland’s athletic department acknowledged Chambers’ passing on social media.

“My deepest sympathies go out to the family, friends and shipmates of Special Operator Chris Chambers, who lost his life while selflessly trying to save his teammate off the coast of East Africa,” Massachusetts governor Maura Healey said in a statement. “In his heroic life and tragic passing, we recognize the ultimate example of the sacrifice that every servicemember and veteran has offered on behalf of our country. We are more determined than ever to honor that sacrifice in our actions as well as our words. I’m keeping the Westfield community and all who knew Chris in my thoughts as Massachusetts mourns another tragic loss, and my heart goes out to all of our heroes who serve and our military families.”

“Maryland and the nation have lost a hero,” Maryland Gov. Wes Moore said in a statement. “Special Operator First Class Christopher J. Chambers wasn’t just a distinguished Navy SEAL, he was a true patriot in every beautiful sense of the word. He put his life on the line for our safety and security, and we will never forget his ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty. My heart breaks for the friends and family of Special Operator Chambers, as well as all who served alongside him. We must keep them in our thoughts and our prayers.”

Ingram, 27, was a native of Texas who enlisted in the Navy in 2019 and graduated SEAL training in 2021.

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