Special Tactics Airman Who Died During Training Swim Identified

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Airman 1st Class Keigan Baker (U.S. Air Force)
Airman 1st Class Keigan Baker (U.S. Air Force)

The special operations airman who died Thursday during a swim for surface training was a Special Tactics combat controller, the Air Force announced Saturday.

Airman 1st Class Keigan Baker, 24, was assigned to Special Tactics Training Squadron, 24th Special Operations Wing, according to a service release. Officials say he went missing during the training swim, which took place at Naval Support Activity Panama City, Florida. By the time he was located, he was unresponsive.

"This is a devastating loss to the entire Special Tactics community," Col. Matthew Allen, 24th SOW commander, said in a statement. "We are very grateful for Keigan's willingness to serve our nation and vow to honor his memory."

Related: Special Tactics Airman Dies During Combat Dive Training

Baker was still in a lengthy training pipeline for his field. He enlisted in June 2018, earning the title of honor graduate at his basic military training class, then immediately began the combat control training program. He had completed the Special Warfare Pre-Dive course at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, and had transitioned to the Air Force's Combat Dive Course at the Panama City base. At the end of the course, he would have been a U.S. Special Operations Command certified diver.

After Baker went missing, the Air Force reached out to other agencies for assistance in a search effort, and later a recovery mission. According to Air Force officials, the Naval Diving and Salvage Training Center, U.S. Coast Guard Station Panama City, the Bay County Sheriff's Office and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission all contributed resources.

"Keigan's loss is felt across the entire training wing, where the safety of our trainees is our top priority," Col. Parks Hughes, Special Warfare Training Wing commander, said in a statement. "We are grateful to all the agencies that assisted with the search and recovery effort. Our thoughts and prayers are with Keigan's family, friends and teammates."

Baker had earned a Bachelor of Arts from Eastern Washington University. His military awards included the Air Force Good Conduct Medal.

The Air Force continues to investigate the causes of his death.

-- Hope Hodge Seck can be reached at hope.seck@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @HopeSeck.

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