Staff Sgt. Cole Condiff, the combat controller who was lost from a C-130 over the Gulf of Mexico in November, was remembered at a memorial service Saturday as a man who was deeply devoted to his family and his faith.

Cole was a loving and caring father, husband, brother, uncle and son,” his father Todd Condiff said at the funeral in Condiff’s hometown, Richardson, Texas, according to a release from the Air Force. He “was taken a little too early for us. He died doing what he loved, and he loved his brothers in the Air Force.”

Condiff, who was with the 23rd Special Tactics Squadron, 24th Special Operations Wing, at Hurlburt Field, Florida, had what the Air Force has referred to as an unplanned parachute departure south of Hurlburt. Four branches of the military, including the Air Force and Coast Guard, searched for him around the clock for 17 days before suspending operations on Nov. 23.

Condiff received full military honors during the service at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Richardson, including a three-volley salute, and a flag was presented to his widow, Rachael. A bagpiper also played Taps, and Special Tactics airmen performed memorial pushups.

Condiff enlisted in the Air Force in 2012, and right away began working to become a combat controller.

“He was thirsty to learn every single thing he could, every single weapon system … how to be a better warrior,” an unidentified Special Tactics operator, who was his teammate at the squadron, said in the release. “He was known for his intellect, for his ability to think outside the box during training missions and real-world missions. Cole had a reputation for being hungry, loyal and trustworthy.”

After completing the two-year training pipeline and becoming a combat controller, he was assigned to the 23rd Special Tactics Squadron. He was a static-line jumpmaster, military free-fall jumper, combat scuba diver, air traffic controller and joint terminal attack controller. He deployed to Africa and Afghanistan, and his awards and decorations include an Air Force Achievement Medal and an Air Force Commendation Medal with a combat device.

Condiff graduated from Sachse High School in Sachse, Texas, in 2008. He then attended Utah Valley University and later served a two-year Mormon mission in Spokane, Washington.

“Despite the chaos of war, we all appreciated Cole’s desire to find peace in his own life,” an unidentified teammate of Condiff’s said. “When you talk to other people in Cole’s life, you find constant theme words such as unselfish, faithful, thirsty, loyal and willing. His willingness and ability to share peace with others helps us all find joy through our struggles.”

In the release, his teammates said he had an effect on everyone he left behind.

“Cole definitely had the courage to be different, to stand and fight for what he believed and to find that ever-so-delicate balance of his loyalty for God, the team and his family,” an unidentified teammate said. He “made me a better man. He made us all better.”

Stephen Losey is the air warfare reporter for Defense News. He previously covered leadership and personnel issues at Air Force Times, and the Pentagon, special operations and air warfare at He has traveled to the Middle East to cover U.S. Air Force operations.

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