A Fort Bragg-based soldier died during a dive training exercise off the coast of Florida on Wednesday, according to U.S. Army Special Operations Command's Facebook page.

Staff Sgt. David Whitcher, of New Hampshire, was in the Combat Diver Qualification Course and assigned to C Company, 2nd Battalion, 1st Special Warfare Training Group at the U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School in North Carolina.

The incident occurred off of Key West, Florida.

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

Whitcher, 30, was previously assigned to C Company, 2nd Battalion, 7th Special Forces Group as a Special Forces engineer sergeant, according to USASOC. He enlisted in the New Hampshire National Guard in 2008 and deployed twice to Afghanistan. Whitcher switched to active duty in 2013 and was stationed in Alaska until he volunteered for Special Forces training — he graduated from the Special Forces Qualification Course this year.

"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." Maj. Gen. James B. Linder, commander of the Special Warfare Center and School, said in the post. "Our thoughts and prayers are with Staff Sgt. Whitcher's family and friends."

The staff sergeant's awards and decorations include the Army Commendation Medal (3rd award), Army Achievement Medal (4th award), Combat Action Badge, Parachutist Badge and Special Forces Tab.

The cause of death is under investigation.



Charlsy Panzino covers the Guard and Reserve, training, technology, operations and features for Army Times and Air Force Times. Email her at cpanzino@militarytimes.com.