New Orleans - An airman who fell from a C-130 airplane over the Gulf of Mexico during a training exercise Tuesday (Nov. 5) was a "combat controller," according to the Air Force, "specially trained and equipped for immediate deployment into combat operations."
He was Air Force Staff Sgt. Cole Condiff, 29, originally from Dallas Texas.
The Air Force 24th Special Operations Wing, based at Hurlburt Field in Okaloosa County, FL, released his name in a statement on Saturday (Nov. 8) as the search turned from a rescue mission to one of recovery.
Condiff was a "static-line jumpmaster, miltary free-fall jumper, combat scuba diver (and) air traffic controller... (able to) conduct reconnaissance, global access, precision strike and personnel recovery operations," and had been deployed in Africa and Afghanistan.
The Air Force says that during a planned jump from the C-130, Condiff "made an unintentional water landing" and the C-130 crew lost sight of him in the water.
The search for has included a 700 square mile area along the coast, all the way from Fort Walton Beach to Pensacola.
The 24th Special Operations Wing was joined in the search by Coast Guard planes, helicopters and boats, along with search teams from Eglin Air Force Base in Florida, the U.S. Army 7th Special Forces Group, and the Escambia County and Santa Rosa County Sheriff's Offices.
"He was a devoted family man within our squadron," said Air Force Lt. Col. Steven Cooper, "focusing on teaching his girls to be adventurous like he was."
Condiff is survived by his wife and their two daughters. The Air Force is "actively investigating the incident."