Electronics Technician 1st Class Ryan DeKorte, 35, of Lubbock, Texas, died May 9th due to injuries sustained from a helicopter landing incident on the 5th of May, according to an announcement made by the Navy last Wednesday. He was assigned to an East Coast based Naval Special Warfare unit.
The incident occurred during a training exercise at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story in Virginia. A Navy official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, reported that the aircraft made a hard landing near DeKorte, who was on the ground at the time.
A “hard landing” generally means the aircraft struck the ground at a speed above the maximum descent rate for the aircraft. In the case of a helicopter, a hard landing may result in the rotor blades on the main rotor or tail rotor separating and striking those on the ground.
Rear Adm. H.W. Howard III, commander of Naval Special Warfare Command, said in a statement:
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the DeKorte family. Ryan was an exceptional teammate, and we mourn his tragic loss. Ryan was one of our premiere combat support technicians, who possessed all the attributes that make our force combat ready for highly complex and high-risk missions in the nation’s defense.”
Howard noted that DeKorte’s “humility, stewardship, and commitment to Naval Special Warfare made an indelible mark on his teammates and our community.”
DeKorte joined the Navy in 2014. Following his initial training, he served aboard the USS Jason Dunham, a destroyer, before being assigned to Naval Special Warfare in 2020.
PO1 DeKorte was an Electronics Technician with both Surface Warfare and Air Warfare qualifications, though he was not a rated aircrewman. His duties would include maintenance on the aircraft’s electronic system.
Second NSW Death in Seven Months
This is the second Naval Special Warfare death disclosed in the last seven months. In December, Commander Brian Bourgeois, 43, who was commanding officer of SEAL Team 8, was injured in “a fast-rope training evolution” in Virginia Beach, Virginia, and died three days later.
The cause of DeKorte’s accident remains under investigation.
According to statistics published by the Naval Safety Command, there have been seven Class-A manned aircraft mishaps reported by the Navy in 2022.