Nov 4, 2016 4:48 PM

Army Staff Sargent from NH dies during diving training exercise in Florida

BRADFORD - An Army Staff Sargent from New Hampshire died Wednesday during a training exercise.

David J. Whitcher, 30 of Bradford, was doing a diving training exercise off the coast of Key West, Fla. 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.

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

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.

Governor Hassan said in a statement she will direct flags to half-staff on the day of Staff Sergeant Whitcher’s memorial service when it is announced.

“U.S. Army Special Forces Staff Sergeant David J. Whitcher was a decorated soldier whose service and sacrifice made our country safer and our freedom stronger," she said. "As a former member of the New Hampshire National Guard, he exemplified the very best of the Granite State’s strong tradition of service to our country during two deployments to Afghanistan. Tom and I join all Granite Staters in mourning his loss and coming together in support of David’s family, loved ones, fellow soldiers and community.”

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.

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