The Air Force on Saturday identified the special tactics airman who was lost in the Gulf of Mexico Nov. 5 as 29-year-old Staff Sgt. Cole Condiff.
Condiff, who was a combat controller with the 23rd Special Tactics Squadron, 24th Special Operations Wing, at Hurlburt Field, Florida, had what the Air Force described as an unplanned parachute departure from a C-130 south of Hurlburt.
“Cole was a man with deep-rooted beliefs who dedicated himself to God, our freedoms, peace, and his family. He was a devoted family man within our squadron, focused on teaching his girls to be adventurous like he was,” squadron commander Lt. Col. Steven Cooper said in a release. “This is a tragic loss to the squadron, the Special Tactics community and our nation. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends and teammates at this time.”
Condiff, who was originally from Dallas, is survived by his wife and two daughters, and his parents, sister and two brothers. His family has requested their privacy be respected, the Air Force said.
In a statement released by the Air Force, Condiff’s family called him a devoted husband, father, son, brother and friend who loved his family.
The Condiff family also expressed “our deepest and unending gratitude to those that have searched so diligently,” and thanked those who stood ready to help them.
“Cole loved his country and was honored to serve to protect the freedoms we enjoy," the Condiff family said. “Cole had a deep faith in God. Although we mourn, it is through our faith that we take comfort in knowing we will be with him again. … He will be greatly missed by all.
“We ask for continued prayers as his wife and daughters move forward without their beloved husband and daddy,” the Condiff family said.
Condiff was a static-line jumpmaster, military free-fall jumper, combat scuba diver, air traffic controller and a joint terminal attack controller who deployed to Africa and Afghanistan. His awards and decorations include an Air Force Achievement Medal and an Air Force Commendation Medal with a combat device, the Air Force said.
Condiff graduated from Sachse High School in Sachse, Texas, and then attended Utah Valley University, the Air Force said. He served a two-year mission with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Spokane, Washington.
He then joined the Air Force in 2012 and entered the two-year training process to become a combat controller right away.
After completing the training program, he was assigned to the 23rd at Hurlburt.
A combined team of Air Force and Navy personnel are still working to recover Condiff, the Air Force said. The Air Force is investigating the incident.
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 Military.com. He has traveled to the Middle East to cover U.S. Air Force operations.