Fort Bragg Special Forces soldier dies during dive training near Key West

David J. Whitcher in a photo from Fort Bragg.
David J. Whitcher in a photo from Fort Bragg.

FORT BRAGG, N.C. (WNCN) – A Fort Bragg Special Forces soldier died Wednesday during a diving training exercise off the coast of Key West in Florida, officials say.

Staff Sgt. David J. Whitcher, 30, was a student in the Combat Diver Qualification Course assigned to Company C, 2nd Battalion, 1st Special Warfare Training Group, U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School.

Whitcher was married to Victoria Whitcher and had a son, David Jr., according to the Concord Monitor.

Before attending the combat diving course, Whitcher, of Bradford, New Hampshire was assigned to Company C, 2nd Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group as a Special Forces engineer sergeant, Fort Bragg official said.

“The special operations community is a close-knit family. At the U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School (SWCS), we consider every student who enters our institution to be a part of our SWCS family. Staff Sgt. Whitcher’s death is a sobering reminder of the dangerous training our soldiers undertake to prepare themselves for the rigors of Special Forces. Our thoughts and prayers are with Staff Sgt. Whitcher’s family and friends,” said Maj. Gen. James B. Linder, commander of the U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School.

Whitcher came on active duty in 2013 and was assigned to the 6th Engineer Battalion, 2nd Engineer Brigade, Fort Richardson, Alaska.

In 2014, Whitcher volunteered for Special Forces training. He graduated from the Special Forces Qualification Course in 2016.

His military education included the Carpentry and Masonry Course, Heavy Construction Operator Course, Basic Airborne Course, Combatives Level One and Two, Combat Life Saver Course, Basic Leader Course, Advanced Leaders Course, Winter Mountain Warfare, SERE Level C, and the Spanish Language Course.

Whitcher’s awards and decorations include the Army Commendation Medal (3rd award), Army Achievement Medal (4th award), Valorous Unit Award, Meritorious Unit Commendation, Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Armed Forces Reserve Medal, NCO Professional Development Ribbon (numeral 2), Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon, NATO Medal, New Hampshire State Active Service Ribbon, Expert in Competition Bronze Pistol Badge, Expert in Competition Bronze Rifle badge, Governors 20 Tab, Combat Action Badge, Parachutist Badge and Special Forces Tab.

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