In an unfortunate turn of events, the Air Force announced that it will suspend the active recovery efforts for Staff Sergeant Cole Condiff, who has been missing in action since he accidentally fell from an aircraft on November 5.
Sgt. Cole Condiff, a Combat Controller assigned to the 23rd Special Tactics Squadron (23rd STS), 24th Special Operations Wing (24th SOW), was participating in a static-line parachute drop over the Gulf of Mexico, when he fell from the aircraft in, as of now, undetermined conditions. His parachute opened, and he was seen floating in the water.
Almost immediately, the Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) in conjunction with numerous other federal, state and local agencies launched a search-and-rescue (SAR) operation to save the Airman.
According to AFSOC, the joint SAR team utilized “a variety of search techniques, including underwater sonar scanning, dive operations, land patrols and airborne surveillance.” SAR diver has conducted more than one hundred dives trying to locate the missing Air Commando.
“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 Colonel Matt Allen, the commanding officer of the 24th SOW. “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.”
The following units and agencies participated in the operation:
- 24th Special Operations Wing
- 1st Special Operations Wing
- 492nd Special Operations Wing
- 919th Special Operations Wing
- U.S. Navy Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit Group 2
- 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
- U.S. Army 7th Special Forces Group
- U.S. Army 6th Ranger Training Battalion
- 920th Rescue Wing
- 347th Rescue Group
- Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office
- Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
Although the continuous, 24-hour SAR operations have been suspended, AFSOC stated that the efforts may resume at a later date if any new evidence with respect to Sgt. Cole’s position arises. Moreover, locals (from Destin to Pensacola) are encouraged to remain vigilant for any military gear that might wash on one of the beaches in the area.
Sgt. Condiff left behind a wife and two small daughters.