The group of six airmen set out that first Sunday in October for a day of sightseeing along the picturesque northern coast of Okinawa, Japan.
They'd left Robins Air Force Base, Georgia, less than two weeks earlier for temporary duty assignments at Kadena Air Base, where they worked 12-hour shifts in support of Pacific Air Forces.
Two airmen died while trying to search for the third who just minutes before had been overcome by what one surviving witness described as a wave so large "it looked like a wall moving toward us."
The events of that tragic day were made public this week in a safety investigation report obtained by The (Georgia) Telegraph through an open requests request.
In a March 12 statement to Air Force Times, 461st Air Control Wing commander Col. Henry Cyr called the events of the day "a tragic accident."
"While the investigation did find links in the chain of events that could have been broken, the investigation did not find fault or culpability," Cyr said.
The probe did find "the need to provide improved local area risk information to deploying Airmen, which we, in conjunction with the 18th Wing, are enacting. The 461st Air Control Wing will continue to promote a safety culture amongst our airmen as we conduct missions around the world," the commander said.
Swartz invited Paschal and the third unnamed airmen along after greeting them in the parking lot. By 10 a.m., they were headed north, to the first waterfall they planned to visit some 60 miles away.
"The group took photos at the first waterfall, enjoyed the sights and departed for the next waterfall at" 11:30 a.m., the report said.
It was about another hour's drive; at the second waterfall, they hiked a trail and took more photos. At 2 p.m., they stopped at a military resort, where they bought food, sodas and souvenirs. They were on the road again within 45 minutes, headed for a third waterfall.
They'd driven only about five miles, the report said, when Paschal "noticed large waves that crashed against a peninsula of rocks and asked [the driver] to stop for photos."
While snapping photographs, the airmen spotted an access road chained off from traffic that would take them closer to the rocks.
They walked around the chain; an airman identified in the documents as a master sergeant in the Air National Guard took a trail toward the rocks with Swartz, Schoenhoff and another unnamed airman following behind.
Up ahead was a crumbling road that led to a dilapidated bridge, both closed since 1973 — although no signs or photos warned of dangerous waves or the road closure, investigators would find.
The four airmen "watched waves crash and crest over the rocks and wash onto the road close to where they stood."
A fisherman would find the body of Schoenhoff on a beach the morning of Oct. 7; the next day, a military search and rescue team recovered Paschal.
The airmen did not, however, see a water video that depicts dangerous water locations and weather hazards in the area "due to technical difficulties."
Three of the airmen — including one who died — had seen the video during a temporary duty assignment to the base a year before "and were familiar with water and weather hazards."
Three days before the accident, the base had declared a Tropical Cyclone Conditions of Readiness storm watch in advance of the typhoon that would come within about 200 miles of the base. The warning was downgraded on Oct. 5, with wave heights forecast to reach six feet and wind gusts about 35 mph.
"It was sunny with scattered clouds," according to the report.
An email to Robins Air Force Base public affairs asking whether the accident has led to any changes in safety briefings or whether any disciplinary actions had been taken was not returned Tuesday.
In an email statement to The Telegraph, Col. Henry Cyr, 461st Air Control Wing commander, said the Air Force and Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System to which the airmen belonged "seek to find what we can learn from this incident to ensure other Airmen do not suffer the same tragic outcome. To date, we have worked to implement improved safety and deployed training to accomplish this. We will continue to assess how we can further improve awareness and improve our culture of safe operations around the world."