HURLBURT FIELD, FL – As of 6 p.m. Friday, active recovery efforts for U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Cole Condiff, a Special Tactics combat controller who had an unplanned parachute departure from a C-130 aircraft November 5, 2019 over the Gulf of Mexico, south of Hurlburt Field, have been suspended.
The recovery remained an ongoing, 24-hour operation since the date of the incident. Personnel across four military branches and several local government agencies supported a variety of search techniques, including underwater sonar scanning, dive operations, land patrols and airborne surveillance. Joint recovery crews conducted more than one hundred dives on points of interest spanning from Destin to Pensacola.
Search and recovery operations may resume at a later time pending any new significant evidence or points of interest. Officials ask that anyone on the water remain vigilant for items of interest such as parachute or other military gear and contact local authorities if anything is sighted.
“While this is a time of great loss across our organization, I am incredibly grateful for the response of our joint teammates, local agencies, and community partners who rallied for 17 straight days to help find our Airman. We may come from different backgrounds, but we all share a common bond of service to others,” said U.S. Air Force Col. Matt Allen, commander of the 24th Special Operations Wing. “Although no substitute for bringing him home, I hope the commitment and resolve on display over the last few weeks provides a small measure of comfort for Cole’s loved ones. We vow to honor Cole and his family and never forget his selfless service to our nation.”
Units who aided in the search and recovery efforts include:
– 24th Special Operations Wing, Hurlburt Field Air Force Base
– 1st Special Operations Wing, Hurlburt Field Air Force Base
– 492nd Special Operations Wing, Hurlburt and Duke Field
– 919th Special Operations Wing, Duke Field
– U.S. Navy Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit Group 2, Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story
– U.S. Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City Division
– Coast Guard Air Station New Orleans MH-65 Dolphin Helicopter aircrew
– Coast Guard Aviation Training Center Mobile HC-144 Ocean Sentry aircrew
– Coast Guard Aviation Training Center Mobile MH-60 Jayhawk aircrew
– Two Coast Guard Station Destin 45-foot Response Boat-Medium boat crews
– 96th Test Wing, Eglin Air Force Base
– U.S. Army 7th Special Forces Group, Duke Field
– U.S. Army 6th Ranger Training Battalion, Eglin Air Force Base
– 920th Rescue Wing, Patrick Air Force Base
– 347th Rescue Group, Moody Air Force Base
– Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office
– Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
The Air Force is actively investigating the incident. To preserve the integrity of the investigation, no additional details will be released until further notice.