USAF Airman Lost at Sea Identified, Member of Elite 23rd Special Tactics Squadron.

File photo of a U.S. Air Force C-130 Hercules aircraft. (U.S. Army Photos by Visual Information Specialist Paolo Bovo/Released) In the box, an official USAF photo of Special Operations Team Member Staff Sgt. Cole Condiff. (Photo: USAF)

Air Force Staff Sgt. Cole Condiff Lost After Parachute Deployed, Landed in Ocean.

The U.S. Air Force has identified the airman lost at sea during a training exercise over the Gulf of Mexico off the Florida coast south of Hurlburt Field last Tuesday, November 5, 2019.

Staff Sgt. Cole Condiff, 29, originally from Dallas, Texas, had an “unplanned parachute departure” from a C-130 Hercules tactical transport on Tuesday according to an official statement released by the Air Force. After his parachute opened Staff Sgt. Condiff was seen treading water before searchers lost sight of him.

As a member of the U.S. Air Force’s elite special operations unit, Condiff earned a static-line jumpmaster rating, was a military free-fall parachutist, a combat SCUBA diver, air traffic controller, and a joint terminal attack controller (JTAC). Staff Sgt. Cole Condiff was cross-trained to perform reconnaissance, precision strike guidance and personnel recovery operations for the U.S. Air Force and in support of other military special operations units.

Search and rescue crews over the Gulf of Mexico last week in the search for Staff Sgt. Cole Condiff.
(Photo: U.S. Air Force Photo by Tech. Sgt. Kelly Goonan)

Born in Dallas, Texas, Staff Sgt. Condiff was a graduate of Sachse High School. He went on to Utah Valley University and volunteered for a two-year mission with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Spokane, Washington. Condiff joined the U.S. Air Force in 2012 and immediately entered the two-year combat control training program. Upon completion of the difficult training curriculum called the “pipeline”, he was assigned to the 23rd Special Tactics Squadron (STS) at Hurlburt Field, Florida.

During his Air Force service Condiff was deployed to Africa and Afghanistan in support of national security objectives. His awards and decorations include an Air Force Achievement Medal and an Air Force Commendation Medal with a combat device.

“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,” Said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Steven Cooper, commander of the 23rd Special Tactics Squadron, to which Staff Sgt. Cole belonged. “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.”

According to an official statement from the U.S. Air Force, “Recovery efforts by a combined U.S. Air Force and U.S. Navy team are ongoing. The Air Force is actively investigating the incident. To preserve the integrity of the investigation, no additional details will be released until further notice.”

A crew member searches for Staff Sgt. Cole Condiff over the Gulf of Mexico last week.
(Photo: U.S. Air Force Photo by Tech. Sgt. Kelly Goonan)

About Tom Demerly
Tom Demerly is a feature writer, journalist, photographer and editorialist who has written articles that are published around the world on,, Outside magazine, Business Insider, We Are The Mighty, The Dearborn Press & Guide, National Interest, Russia’s government media outlet Sputnik, and many other publications. Demerly studied journalism at Henry Ford College in Dearborn, Michigan. Tom Demerly served in an intelligence gathering unit as a member of the U.S. Army and Michigan National Guard. His military experience includes being Honor Graduate from the U.S. Army Infantry School at Ft. Benning, Georgia (Cycle C-6-1) and as a Scout Observer in a reconnaissance unit, Company “F”, 425th INF (RANGER/AIRBORNE), Long Range Surveillance Unit (LRSU). Demerly is an experienced parachutist, holds advanced SCUBA certifications, has climbed the highest mountains on three continents and visited all seven continents and has flown several types of light aircraft.