The Joint Base Lewis-McChord Green Beret in a rare fatal paratrooper training accident last week was a young officer who recently joined Army Special Forces, the Army said today.
Capt. James Ahn, 29, of California was killed Friday morning in an accident near Shelton. He had graduated from several Army paratrooper training courses, according to the military.
The Army is conducting three separate investigations into what caused Ahn’s death, 1st Special Forces Group spokesman Maj. Timothy Chavis said.
The Mason County Sheriff’s Department, which coordinated the 10-hour search for Ahn’s body, is no longer investigating the death and will not release further information about the accident.
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The accident occurred during a flight of a civilian-flown, fixed-wing aircraft out of Sanderson Airfield’s Kapowsin Air Sports that the 1st Special Forces Group had hired for the exercise.
Andy Farrington of Kapowsin Air Sports said the military has been hiring his company for more than 20 years to support paratrooper training. Until about 10 years ago, the business was based at the small residential Kapowsin Airfield in Pierce County.
“That was the type of situation where we were supplying the military an aircraft and a pilot,” Farrington said. “They do their gear checks, they bring their jump masters and equipment.”
The teams investigating Ahn’s death include agents from the Army’s Criminal Investigative Division, officers from the Army Safety Center and a Special Forces command inquiry that will look at the circumstances around the flight.
Chavis said the Army likely won’t release findings for at least six weeks.
“The unit is focused on the investigations,” he said.
The incident was the first fatal parachute accident involving a JBLM soldier since 2005. His unit is one of four Special Operations units at the base that train for airborne assaults, including parachute jumps.
Ahn joined the 1st Special Forces Group in May 2014. He previously served at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, as a quartermaster.
He has numerous medals for his military service, including one recognizing his service in conflicts since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
The last reported fatal skydiving accident at Kapowsin Air Sports was in August 2014.