The U.S. Air Force on Sunday identified the airman presumed dead after he fell into the Gulf of Mexico from a C-130 aircraft last week, as recovery efforts continued.
U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Cole Condiff, 29, a special tactics combat controller with 24th Special Operations Wing, part of the Air Force Special Operations Command, fell 1,500 feet out of the plane Tuesday morning during a parachute-jump training exercise out of Hurlburt Field, Fla., investigators said.
Crew members aboard the C-130 said they initially saw Condiff, whose parachute did deploy, treading water but lost sight of him while making a turn to pick him up. The Coast Guard spent over 130 hours on the scene and searched over 4,900 square nautical miles, but were unable to find the airman.
Condiff was a Dallas native who served a two-year mission with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Spokane, Washington, the Pensacola News-Journal reported.
Condiff enlisted in the Air Force in 2012, as Fox 13 reported, and his awards and decorations included an Air Force Achievement Medal and an Air Force Commendation Medal with a combat device.
U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Cole Condiff, 29, fell into the Gulf of Mexico during a parachute-jump training exercise out of Hurlburt Field, Fla., investigators said. (U.S. Air Force)
The Air Force said Condiff was a static-line jumpmaster, military free-fall jumper, combat scuba diver, air traffic controller and a joint terminal attack controller.
As a special tactics combat controller, he was trained for immediate deployment into combat operations to conduct reconnaissance, global access, precision strike and personnel recovery operations.
Condiff, who had completed deployments to Africa and Afghanistan, is survived by his wife and their two daughters as well as by his parents, a sister and two brothers.
“Cole was a man with deep-rooted beliefs who dedicated himself to God, our freedoms, peace, and his family. He was a devoted family man within our squadron, focused on teaching his girls to be adventurous like he was,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Steven Cooper, commander of the 23rd STS in a military news release. “This is a tragic loss to the squadron, the Special Tactics community and our nation. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends and teammates at this time.”