Utah National Guard soldier drowns in training exercise

Staff Sgt. Paul Lincoln Olmstead, 29, died Tuesday in a water training exercise in Kentucky.

(Utah National Guard) Staff Sgt. Paul Lincoln Olmstead, who died Tuesday during a water training exercise.

A National Guard soldier from Utah died Tuesday during a training exercise at Fort Campbell, Kentucky.

Staff Sgt. Paul Lincoln Olmstead, 29, died Tuesday during a water training exercise at the Joe Swing Park Reservoir in Kentucky, according to a news release from the Utah National Guard. After a search with local emergency agencies, his body was recovered Wednesday. The fatality is being investigated.

The 10-day course Olmstead was participating in includes surface and sub-surface swim tests, knot tying and equipment familiarization, according to an Army official. It is meant to prepare participants for a combat diver qualification course at the Special Forces Underwater Operations School in Florida.

Olmstead was born in Springville and graduated in 2010 from North Sanpete High School in Mount Pleasant, Utah, according to the release. He was working toward a degree in mechanical engineering and had accumulated more than 100 credit hours at Utah State University. He is survived by his wife and two children, and his brother has set up a GoFundMe for his family.

Gov. Spencer Cox and Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, both expressed their condolences to Olmstead’s family.

“We are devastated to hear of the passing of Staff Sgt. Paul Lincoln Olmstead,” Cox said in a statement. “Staff Sgt. Olmstead served with valor and courage.”

In a Facebook post, Romney described the news of Olmstead’s death as a “solemn reminder of the immeasurable sacrifices made by our servicemembers.”

Olmstead joined the Utah Army National Guard in February 2016 and served as a special forces engineer sergeant since Oct. 11, 2019, according to the release. He had received numerous awards for his service, including the Army Achievement Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters, the Army Reserve Component Achievement Medal and a National Defense Service Ribbon.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with Lincoln’s family, especially his wife and children, friends, and teammates,” Utah National Guard adjutant general Maj. Gen. Michael Turley said in the release. “While training accidents like this are rare, it is a reminder of the enormous sacrifices made by our service members and their families every day.”

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