PRESS RELEASE: Special Forces Soldier dies during training

By U.S. Army Special Operations Command Public Affairs OfficeNovember 6, 2016

Special Forces Soldier dies during training
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FORT BRAGG, N.C. - Staff Sgt. David J. Whitcher, 30, of Bradford, New Hampshire, died Nov. 2, 2016 during a dive training exercise off the coast of Key West, Florida. The cause of death is under investigation.

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

Prior to his attendance at CDQC, Whitcher was assigned to Company C, 2nd Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group as a Special Forces engineer sergeant.

"Our primary focus right now is to care for his loved ones. As always, we will take care of our own and help his family in their time of need," said 7th Special Forces Group Commander Col. Michael A. Ball.

"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 enlisted in the New Hampshire National Guard in 2008 as a carpentry and masonry specialist. He was a veteran of two deployments to Afghanistan as a member of the National Guard in his home state.

In 2013Whitcher came on active duty 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 includes 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.

His 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.