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Airman found dead on German highway identified

An airman found unresponsive near a German highway and declared dead Tuesday afternoon was identified as Staff Sgt. Justin Vandervort, base officials announced Thursday.

Vandervort was found unresponsive on the A60 autobahn, near Spangdahlem Air Base, and declared dead at approximately 2:20 p.m., according to the base press release.

The 29-year-old airman from Orange, California, was serving as a medical technician. He had been in the Air Force since May 2009. At the time of his death, he was serving in a special-duty position as an instructor at a First-Term Airman Course — a program designed to guide new airmen through their transition from technical training to the operational Air Force.

Vandervort was assigned to the 52nd Medical Operations Squadron at Spangdahlem.

“Each and every person in this wing is a tremendously valuable member of Saber Nation,” Col. Jason Bailey, commander of the 52nd Fighter Wing at Spangdahlem Air Base, said in a statement Thursday.

“This loss affects the entire Spangdahlem community," Bailey added. "Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends and wingmen. We are doing everything possible to support them during this difficult time.”

The cause of Vandervort’s death was not immediately clear. The Air Force has not released details surrounding how he was found.

The Air Force said that the cause of death is under investigation.

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