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Hurlburt Field airman who died in training accident identified

Hurlburt Field (A1C Emily S. Moore/WikiCommons)

The Hurlburt Field airman who died in a Thursday training accident at a Navy facility in Panama City has been identified as Airman 1st Class Keigan Baker, 24, an Air Force Special Tactics combat controller apprentice assigned to the Special Tactics Training Squadron of the Hurlburt Field-based 24th Special Operations Wing.

Baker was found unresponsive after he went missing during a surface training swim at Naval Support Activity Panama City. The incident remains under investigation.

At the time of his death, Baker was taking part in the Air Force Combat Dive Course run by Air Education and Training Command’s Special Warfare Training Wing headquartered at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland.

“This is devastating loss to the entire Special Tactics community,” U.S. Air Force Col. Matthew Allen, commander of the 24th SOW, said in a news release. “We are very grateful for Keigan’s willingness to serve our nation and vow to honor his memory.”

Baker enlisted in the United States Air Force in June 2018, and entered the two-year combat control training program after basic military training. At the time of his death, he was a student in the Air Force Combat Dive Course at Naval Support Activity Panama City.

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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.

U.S. Air Force Col. Parks Hughes, commander of the service’s Special Warfare Training Wing, said in a statement that “Keigan’s loss is felt across the entire training wing … . Our thoughts and prayers are with Keigan’s family, friends and teammates.”

Baker, a graduate of Longview’s Mark Morris High School, also held a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Eastern Washington University.

A number of agencies were involved in search and recovery efforts in the incident, including the Naval Diving and Salvage Training Center, U.S. Coast Guard Station Panama City, other military dive units, the Bay County Sheriff’s Office and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Rep. Matt Gaetz issued a statement in response to Baker’s death, saying the airman’s “patriotism and his devotion to serving his country will not soon be forgotten. Our Northwest Florida community and the entire nation mourns the loss of Airman First Class Keigan Baker and joins together in prayer for his family during this difficult time.”

Funeral arrangements for Baker are pending and will be announced.

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© 2020 The Walton Sun