By ANIESA HOLMESMarch 5, 2014
FORT BENNING, Ga., (March 4, 2014) -- Family and friends gathered Feb. 28 during a memorial service at the Main Post Chapel to honor a Fort Benning Air Force special tactics Airman who died during a parachute training accident.
Master Sgt. Josh Gavulic, 34, a tactical air control party member assigned to the 17th Special Tactics Squadron, died Feb. 21 during free-fall proficiency training in Eloy, Ariz.
He was a 16-year veteran with 10 deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, where he earned three Bronze Star medals, two Air Force Commendation Medals, two Joint Service Commendation Medals with Valor and an Army Commendation Medal.
Gavulic is survived by his wife Alyssa, their six children, Rylie, Tristyn, Austyn, Suttyn, Evylie and Lylah, his parents Bob and Sherri, his brother Jacob and his sister Jewel.
Lt. Col. John Traxler, 17th Special Tactics Squadron commander, described Gavulic as a "tender warrior" and an exceptional Airman, special tactics operator and a Ranger who was driven to serve God, his Family and his country.
"A warrior is a protector ... the perfect combination of tenacity, veracity, tenderness and love," Traxler said. "He represented God's vision of manhood."
Gavulic was an expert in planning and controlling air combat resources for joint operations. He was also proficient in operating and supervising communications networks to support ground maneuver elements, according to an Air Force release regarding the accident.
Retired Master Sgt. Eric Brandenburg, a former squadron superintendent, hired Gavulic to join the unit in 2005. He said he admired Gavulic's ability to balance multiple tasks and deployments with being a devoted husband and father.
"He definitely stood out above his peers," Brandenburg said. "He immediately shot ahead of his peers in performance and motivation. He was a great Family man and a great warrior, someone you could count on."
Master Sgt. Mark Foster of Fort Bragg, N.C., said Gavulic always put his Family first and had great respect for his fellow Airmen.
"He was the kind of guy that I looked up to as another master sergeant and as a father and a senior noncommissioned officer," Foster said. "He cared about the man to his right and he cared about the guy to his left. He would do anything for his men and his friends."