Hero Commander of SEAL Team 1 Found Dead in California Home

December 21, 2022Carl Prine
SEAL team commander

US Navy Cmdr. Robert Ramirez III, the highly decorated commander of California-based SEAL Team 1, was found deceased in his home on Monday, Dec. 19, 2022. Foul play is not suspected. Coffee or Die Magazine composite.

The highly decorated commanding officer of California-based SEAL Team 1 has died, and officials are investigating whether he took his own life.

Cmdr. Robert Ramirez III was found deceased at his home on Monday, Dec. 19, and foul play isn’t suspected. He was 47.

He'd spent nearly 27 years in the Navy, rising from a recruit in Great Lakes, Illinois, to lead a SEAL team. He took command of the Coronado-based team in November.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the Ramirez family. Bobby was an outstanding leader, devoted husband and father, and a good friend to us all,” said Capt. David Abernathy, the commander of Naval Special Warfare Group 1, which manages all Coronado-based Navy SEAL teams, in a prepared statement emailed to Coffee or Die Magazine. “This is a [devastating] loss to our community and all who knew him. We will remain in support of Bobby’s family, friends, and teammates during this extremely difficult time.”

Coffee or Die is honoring the family's wish to mourn the commander's death in private.

SEAL team

Navy SEALs demonstrate winter warfare capabilities at Mammoth Lakes, California, on Dec. 9, 2014. US Navy photo.

A Virginia native, Ramirez enlisted in the Navy on Jan. 25, 1996, and graduated from the grueling Navy Special Warfare Basic Training on April 25, 1997. He was assigned to his first SEAL team three months later.

In 2001 he became a student in the Seaman-to-Admiral Program at Old Dominion University and was commissioned in 2004. He rejoined the SEALs while the commandos were waging war across the globe, nearly three years after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Other than a two-year stint studying at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California, Ramirez worked his way up through the SEALs until 2020, when he was assigned to the US 7th in Japan, a tour that would prep him to take command of his team.

Beloved by his fellow SEALs for both his courage and long roots in the enlisted ranks, Ramirez fought in Iraq four times and deployed twice to Afghanistan.

SEAL team

US Navy SEALs conduct a High Altitude Low Opening (HALO) airborne operation in support of exercise Arctic Edge 2022 in Deadhorse, Alaska, on March 4, 2022. US Army photo.

He was promoted to commander on Sept. 1, 2019.

His decorations include five Bronze Star Medals — two for combat valor — and the Defense Meritorious Service Medal.

He also received the Joint Service Commendation Medal, two Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medals, the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, three Combat Action Ribbons, and two Good Conduct Medals.

Editor's note: This is a breaking story and Coffee or Die Magainze will continue to add to it.

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Carl Prine
Carl Prine

Carl Prine is a former senior editor at Coffee or Die Magazine. He has worked at Navy Times, The San Diego Union-Tribune, and Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He served in the Marine Corps and the Pennsylvania Army National Guard. His awards include the Joseph Galloway Award for Distinguished Reporting on the military, a first prize from Investigative Reporters & Editors, and the Combat Infantryman Badge.

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