A U.S. Air Force has identified the Special Tactics Airman who died in a swim training incident at Naval Support Activity Panama City, Florida on March 19.
The deceased was identified as Airman First Class Keigan Baker, 24, an Air Force Special Tactics combat controller assigned to the Special Tactics Training Squadron, 24th Special Operations Wing (24 SOW).
Baker was taking part in the Air Force Combat Dive Course run by Air Education and Training Command (AETC)’s Special Warfare Training Wing headquartered at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland at NSA Panama City. He was found unresponsive after he went missing during a surface training swim.
“This is devastating loss to the entire Special Tactics community,” said U.S. Air Force Col. Matthew Allen, commander of the 24th SOW. “We are very grateful for Keigan’s willingness to serve our nation and vow to honor his memory.”
The agencies that contributed to the search and recovery efforts include: The Naval Diving and Salvage Training Center (NDSTC), U.S. Coast Guard Station Panama City, Bay County Sheriff’s Office, The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and other sister service dive units.
Baker enlisted in the U.S. Air Force in June 2018 and was recognized as an Honor Graduate at Basic Military Training (BMT). After BMT, he immediately entered the two-year combat control training program. Shortly after being assigned to STTS he left to attend the Special Warfare Pre-Dive course at JBSA-Lackland, followed by the Air Force Combat Dive Course at NSA Panama City.
As a Special Tactics combat controller apprentice, Baker was training to deploy into combat zones to conduct reconnaissance, global access, precision strike and personnel recovery operations.
His awards and decorations include: Air Force Good Conduct Medal, Air Force Basic Military Training Honor Graduate Ribbon, The Air Force Training Ribbon and the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal.
The Longview, Washington native was a graduate of Mark Morris High School. He then received his Bachelors of Arts Degree in Business Administration from Eastern Washington University.
“Keigan’s loss is felt across the entire training wing, where the safety of our trainees is our top priority,” said U.S. Air Force Col. Parks Hughes, commander of the Special Warfare Training Wing. “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.”
The Air Force Combat Dive Course teaches students diving fundamentals through open circuit self contained underwater breathing apparatus (SCUBA) training and closed circuit underwater breathing apparatus (UBA) training. Students learn basic diving, advanced rescue diving principles and advanced combat diving fundamentals. Upon completion of the course, students are certified Special Operations Command (SOCOM) combatant divers.
The 24th Special Operations Wing (24 SOW, also called Air Force Special Tactics) is a U.S. Air Force (USAF) active-duty special operations wing headquartered at Hurlburt Field, Florida with component groups located in North Carolina, Georgia and Washington.
The 24 SOW is assigned to the Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) and is AFSOC’s third special operations wing. The wing is the only Special Tactics Wing in the Air Force.
The primary mission of 24 SOW is to conduct global air, space, and cyber-enabled special operations across the spectrum of conflict. The 24 SOW is U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM)’s tactical air/ground integration force and the Air Force’s special operations ground force that leads global access, precision strike, personnel recovery and battlefield surgery operations.