NEWS | Sept. 23, 2021

Utah National Guard Soldier dies in training exercise

By Lt. Col. Jaime Thomas Utah National Guard

A Soldier assigned to Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 19th Special Forces Group (Airborne), died while participating in the 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne) Maritime Assessment Course on Fort Campbell, Kentucky, Sept. 21, 2021.

Staff Sgt. Paul Lincoln Olmstead died Tuesday during a water training exercise at the Joe Swing Park Reservoir in Kentucky. Olmstead went under water Tuesday afternoon while conducting a surface swim and did not resurface. 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 then 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, 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. Olmstead’s awards and badges include: 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. 

Information for the upcoming dignified transfer from Kentucky to Utah and graveside services will be made public in a following release as it becomes available.