Staff Sgt. Paul Lincoln Olmstead – 2nd Green Beret to Die in Water Training


Green Beret Staff Sgt. Paul Lincoln Olmstead died during water training on Tuesday. He was conducting a surface swim when he suddenly went underwater and never resurfaced. His body wasn’t recovered until Wednesday. The water training was held at Joe Swing Park Reservoir at Fort Campbell, Kentucky.

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The training, the 5th Special Forces Group Maritime Assessment Course, was in preparation for the Combat Diver US Army Qualification Course, which is a tough program by itself. The Army is conducting an investigation, and the reservoir is closed, with all activities there cancelled for the time being.

Pre-dive training courses like the Kentucky course do not, according to Army training rules, use underwater breathing equipment in training, but instead put students through arduous water events, such as long swims in full uniforms, extended treading water, and performing complicated tasks underwater while holding their breath.

The search for SSgt Olmstead began immediately upon seeing him go underwater, according to Military Times.

Olmstead was recovered Wednesday morning with the help of Fort Campbell Fire and Emergency Services, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency and Montgomery County Emergency Services.

He was pronounced dead by Fort Campbell emergency personnel and taken to Blanchfield Army Community Hospital.

Military Times

SSgt Olmstead was assigned to Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 19th Special Forces Group. He was born in 1992 and graduated from North Sanpete High School in Mount Pleasant, Utah in 2010. He enlisted in the Utah National Guard in 2016. He graduated as a Special Forces engineer from the Special Forces Qualification Course at the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School in 2019. He is survived by his wife and two children.

Olmstead was also a graduate of the Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape (SERE) Course, Military Free Fall Course, Special Forces Sniper Course, Basic Airborne Course and had also been the honor graduate for his cohort of the Special Forces Advanced Urban Combat Course.

Olmstead’s awards and badges include the Army Achievement Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters; Army Reserve Component Achievement Medal; National Defense Service Ribbon; Army Service Ribbon; Army Reserve Components Overseas Training Ribbon; Basic Parachutist Badge; and the Military Freefall Parachutist Badge.

Military Times

SSgt Olmstead became the 2nd Green Beret to die in a water training incident in the last few months. Back in July we reported on the death of SSgt Micah Walker, who died during a treading water exercise at Combat Dive school in Key West, Florida.

Before a Green Beret candidate can qualify for the Combat Diver School, he/she must demonstrate outstanding physical fitness and pass swim tests. The Dive School itself is a seven week intensive program where they learn amphibious insertion techniques, how to handle SCUBA gear, etc. One in three candidates do not pass the tests. (Wearethemighty)

This is an absolute tragedy, especially when we lose someone as capable and promising as Lincoln. Sometimes we expect this sort of thing in combat, but not during training, which makes this difficult for the unit and especially the family. We are committed to ensuring the family is supported over the coming days, weeks and months

Col. Paul Peters, commander of 19th Special Forces Group

Rest In Peace, SSgt Olmstead.


Featured photo: SSgt Paul Lincoln Olmstead, Utah National Guard

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