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Special Tactics airman who died during swim training identified

An airman who was found unresponsive Thursday afternoon after going missing during surface swim training at Naval Support Activity Panama City, Florida, has been identified.

Airman First Class Keigan Baker, 24, a Special Tactics combat controller, was taking part in the Air Force Combat Dive Course Thursday when he went missing just after 11 a.m., an Air Force statement confirmed.

Search and rescue efforts launched by personnel from Naval Diving and Salvage Training Center, the U.S. Coast Guard Station Panama City, and others recovered Baker’s body at approximately 4:30 p.m.

“This is a devastating loss to the entire Special Tactics community,” said U.S. Air Force Col. Matthew Allen, commander of the 24th Special Operations Wing.

“We are very grateful for Keigan’s willingness to serve our nation and vow to honor his memory.”

Baker had been assigned to the Special Tactics Training Squadron, 24th Special Operations Wing out of Hurlburt Field, Florida, the service confirmed.

The Longview, Washington native enlisted in the U.S. Air Force in June 2018 and was named an honor graduate upon completion of basic training.

A spot in the Air Force’s illustrious two-year combat control program followed, leading to Baker’s participation in the Special Warfare Pre-Dive school at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland prior to joining the Air Force Combat Dive Course in Panama City.

Special Tactics combat controllers are widely renowned for combat reconnaissance, coordinating precision strikes and conducting personnel recovery operations. Graduates of the dive courses are also certified as Special Operations Command combatant divers, the release said.

“Keigan’s loss is felt across the entire training wing, where the safety of our trainees is our top priority,” said Air Force Col. Parks Hughes, commander of the Special Warfare Training Wing.

“We are grateful to all the agencies that assisted with the search and recovery effort. Our thoughts and prayers are with Keigan’s family, friends and teammates.”

Baker’s awards include the Air Force Good Conduct Medal, the Air Force Basic Military Training Honor Graduate Ribbon, the Air Force Training Ribbon and the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal.

He was also the recipient a bachelor of arts degree from Eastern Washington University.

The circumstances surrounding the incident remain under investigation.

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