Utah National Guard soldier dies during training exercise in Kentucky

Utah National Guard Staff Sgt. Paul Lincoln Olmstead, 29, died during a water training exercise in Kentucky on Tuesday.

Utah National Guard Staff Sgt. Paul Lincoln Olmstead, 29, died during a water training exercise in Kentucky on Tuesday. (Utah National Guard)

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SALT LAKE CITY — A Utah soldier died Tuesday during a training exercise at Fort Campbell in Kentucky.

Staff Sgt. Paul Lincoln Olmstead, 29, went underwater while conducting a surface swim as part of a maritime assessment course at Joe Swing Reservoir and did not resurface, the Utah National Guard announced in a news release.

A search involving crews from the area began, and Olmstead was recovered from the water Wednesday morning.

He is survived by his wife and two children.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with Lincoln's family, especially his wife and children, friends and teammates," Maj. Gen. Michael Turley, adjutant general of the Utah National Guard, said in the statement.

"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," he said.

Olmstead joined the National Guard in 2016 and served as a Special Forces engineer since 2019, officials said. He was assigned to the Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 19th Special Forces Group (Airborne).

During his time in the Army, he received numerous awards and badges including the Army Achievement Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters, Army Reserve Component Achievement Medal, National Defense Service Ribbon and the Army Service Ribbon.

"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," Col. Paul Peters said in the statement.

"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," he said.

The Utah National Guard remembered Olmstead as "a trained professional, fully committed to the community, the country, and the mission."

The death remains under investigation.

Plans for Olmstead's funeral have not yet been finalized.


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Ashley Imlay is an evening news manager for KSL.com. A lifelong Utahn, Ashley has also worked as a reporter for the Deseret News and is a graduate of Dixie State University.


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