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Local soldier attached to Camp Williams dies in maritime training exercise

By Genelle Pugmire - | Sep 24, 2021

Staff Sgt. Paul Lincoln Olmstead died during maritime training exercises in Kentucky. He lives in Salt Lake valley with his wife and two children who survive him. (Courtesy Utah National Guard)

Staff Sgt. Paul Lincoln Olmstead, a soldier assigned to Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 19th Special Forces Group (airborne) attached to Camp Williams died during a training exercise, Tuesday.

Olmstead was born in Springville and grew up in Sanpete County where he graduated from high school. He most recently lived in the Salt Lake valley with his wife and two children.

The staff sergeant died while participating in the 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne) Maritime Assessment Course on Fort Campbell, Kentucky, during a water training exercise at the Joe Swing Park Reservoir.

“Olmstead went under water Tuesday afternoon while conducting a surface swim and did not resurface,” according to a press release. “A search began immediately with support from Fort Campbell Fire and Emergency Services, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, and Montgomery County Emergency Medical Services.”

Olmstead was recovered Wednesday morning and pronounced dead by Fort Campbell emergency medical services before being transported to Blanchfield Army Community Hospital. The incident is under investigation.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with Lincoln’s family, especially his wife and children, friends, and teammates,” said Maj. Gen. Michael Turley, adjutant general with the Utah National Guard. “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.”

Olmstead joined the Utah Army National Guard, Feb. 8, 2016, and served as a Special Forces engineer sergeant since Oct. 11, 2019. His military education includes the Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape Course; Military Free Fall Course; Special Forces Advanced Urban Combat Course (Honor Graduate); Special Forces Sniper Course; and Basic Airborne Course.

On Friday, Gov. Spencer Cox released a statement on Olmstead’s death. “We are devastated to hear of the passing of Staff Sgt. Paul Lincoln Olmstead. Staff Sgt. Olmstead served with valor and courage as a Special Forces Soldier for the Utah National Guard. We honor his sacrifice and commitment to his country. Abby and I pray for Staff Sgt. Olmstead, his family and loved ones during this most difficult time,” the statement read.

Olmstead is the recipient of several military awards and badges including: The Army Achievement Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters, Army Reserve Component Achievement Medal, National Defense Service Ribbon, Army Service Ribbon, Army Reserve Components Overseas Training Ribbon, Basic Parachutist Badge, and Military Freefall Parachutist Badge.

“This is an absolute tragedy, especially when we lose someone as capable and promising as Lincoln. Sometimes we expect this sort of thing in combat, but not during training, which makes this difficult for the unit and especially the family,” said Col. Paul Peters, commander, 19th SFG (A). “Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and everyone affected. We are committed to ensuring the family is supported over the coming days, weeks and months.

Olmstead is survived by his wife and two children.

“Olmstead was a trained professional, fully committed to the community, the country, and the mission. The selflessness and sacrifice of our service members define the Utah National Guard. Our priority right now is to take care of the family, ensuring they have all the resources they need during this critical time. We ask that the media refrain from contacting the family out of respect to their privacy,” the Utah Army National Guard said.

Arrangements are being made for the dignified transfer from Kentucky to Utah. Services for Olmstead are pending.


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