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Naval special warfare sailor dies after helicopter landing mishap

Electronics Technician 1st Class Ryan DeKorte. (U.S. Navy photo/Released)
May 11, 2022

A U.S. Navy sailor assigned to a Naval Special Warfare unit has died this week after sustaining injuries when the helicopter he was on experienced a landing mishap.

In a Tuesday press release, the Navy said the sailor was on board a helicopter during a joint training event at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story, Va., on Thursday, May 5, when the aircraft experienced an unspecified landing incident. The Navy subsequently identified the sailor as 35-year-old Electronics Technician 1st Class Ryan DeKorte, who was assigned to a Naval Special Warfare support unit.

The Navy said the DeKorte was taken to a local hospital where he died four days later on Monday, May 9, at around 12:35 p.m. EST.

The Navy did not specify the nature of the helicopter landing incident that took place and said the matter was under investigation.

WKTR reported a helicopter at Fort Story experienced a hard landing on May 5, which sent at least three people to the hospital.

The exact cause of the sailor’s death was also not immediately clear. The navy said the “tragic loss of a teammate remains under investigation.”

A native of Lubbock, Texas, DeKorte joined the Navy in 2014. After his initial training, DeKorte served aboard the USS Jason Dunham (DDG 109) and then entered the Naval Special Warfare community in 2020.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the DeKorte family. Ryan was an exceptional teammate, and we mourn his tragic loss. We will stand in support of Ryan’s family forever and will never forget our teammate’s leadership, service and competence,” said Rear Adm. H.W. Howard III, commander, Naval Special Warfare Command. “Ryan was one of our premiere combat support technicians, who possessed all the attributes that make our force combat ready for highly complex and high-risk missions in the Nation’s defense. His humility, stewardship and commitment to Naval Special Warfare made an indelible mark on his teammates and our community.”

Naval Amphibious Base Little Creek is home to Naval Special Warfare Group 2, which includes SEAL Teams 2, 4, 8, and 10. The base also hosts Special Warfare Combatant Craft (SWCC) crews and other special warfare support units.

Another Naval Special Warfare servicemember was killed during a training event at Naval Amphibious Base Little Creek in December. 43-year-old SEAL Team 8 Cmdr. Brian Bourgeois was fatally injured during a fast-rope training evolution on Dec. 3 and died three days later at Norfolk Sentara General Hospital. Fast-roping is a way in which troops rapidly deploy from a helicopter.

24-year-old Navy SEAL candidate Seaman Kyle Mullen died during “Hell Week” of the Basic Underwater Demolition SEAL (BUD/S) selection course in February. The Navy said Mullen was not active at the time of his death and the cause of his death was being investigated.

Another Navy special operations sailor died during a training incident last month at Marine Corps Base Hawaii in Kaneohe Bay. The sailor, identified as Lt. j.g. Aaron Fowler, was assigned to Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit One and was participating in the third phase of the Marine Corps Reconnaissance Leaders Course at the time of his death. The course’s third phase takes place in Hawaii and goes through swimming progressions and amphibious operations.

This article has been updated with additional information from the Naval Special Warfare Command.