A chief master sergeant at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, was found dead Saturday of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound, according to an Alaska newspaper.
Chief Master Sgt. Kevin Wendt's body was discovered in the Chena Lake Recreation Area and investigators have ruled out foul play, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported Tuesday.
Wendt has served as group superintendent of the 354th Operations Group at Eielson since September, according to his official biography. During his 27-year military career, he has deployed to Iraq, Kosovo, the Philippines, Honduras and Japan.
In Okinawa, Wendt worked as an American Forces Network broadcaster, giving the weather forecasts each night to more than 50,000 troops and civilians, his biography says.
The Air Force Office of Special Investigations has launched an investigation into Wendt's death, said Chief Master Sgt. Michael Brown, the command chief master sergeant for the 354th Fighter Wing. Brown declined to discuss details of the investigation.
Brown described Wendt as "an airman that cared about airmen," who approached every task head on.
"He was an advocate for his airmen," Brown told Air Force Times in an interview. "Kevin made sure his airmen were cared for and were thought of and given every opportunity to share their leadership abilities in the wing."
Wendt was a mentor who enjoyed sharing his experiences with his airmen, Brown said. In one instance, Wendt helped mentor an airman who had been removed from his career field and was on his way to being separated.
"Kevin worked very hard to help him get retrained in another career field and spent a lot of time with him talking about the things that he needed to do to be an airman, to stay in the Air Force and to do well," Brown said. "It's kind of ironic: That airman actually graduated from tech school this last week and is on his way to his new duty station."
Wendt is the second airman from Eielson to die within a month. Master Sgt. Richard Gustafson was found dead in his home May 14. He was assigned to the 354th Fighter Wing and served as a Tactical Air Control Party airman.