Staff Sgt. David J. Whitcher, 30, of Bradford, New Hampshire, a student at the Special Forces Underwater Operations School, died Nov. 2, during a dive training exercise off the coast of Key West, Florida. The cause of death is under investigation.

Whitcher was a student in the Combat Diver Qualification Course assigned to Company C, 2nd Battalion, 1st Special Warfare Training Group, U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School.

Before attending CDQC, Whitcher was assigned to Co. C, 2nd Bn., 7th Special Forces Group as a Special Forces engineer sergeant.

“Our primary focus right now is to care for his loved ones. As always, we will take care of our own and help his Family in their time of need,” said Col. Michael A. Ball, 7th SFG commander.

“The special operations community is a close-knit Family. At the U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School, we consider every student who enters our institution a part of our SWCS Family. Staff Sergeant Whitcher’s death is a sobering reminder of the dangerous training our Soldiers undertake to prepare themselves for the rigors of Special Forces. Our thoughts and prayers are with Staff Sergeant Whitcher’s Family and friends,” said Maj. Gen. James B. Linder, commander of the USAJFKSWCS.

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.

In 2013, Whitcher came on active duty and was assigned to the 6th Engineer Battalion, 2nd Engineer Brigade, Fort Richardson, Alaska. In 2014, Whitcher volunteered for Special Forces. He graduated from the Special Forces Qualification Course in 2016.

His military education includes the Carpentry and Masonry Course, Heavy Construction Operator Course, Basic Airborne Course, Combatives Level One and Two, Combat Life Saver Course, Basic Leader Course, Advanced Leaders Course, Winter Mountain Warfare, Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape Level C and the Spanish Language Course.

His awards and decorations include the Army Commendation Medal (third award), Army Achievement Medal (fourth 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.