Special Tactics Airman fatal training mishap

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An Air Force Special Tactics Airman died Feb. 21, during a free fall proficiency training in Eloy, Ariz. The cause of the accident is under investigation.

Master Sgt. Josh Gavulic was a tactical air control party member assigned to the 17th Special Tactics Squadron at Fort Benning, Ga. He was a 16-year veteran with 10 deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan where he earned three Bronze Star Medals, two Air Force Commendation Medals, two Joint Service Commendation Medals with Valor and an Army Commendation Medal.

"Joshua was a tender warrior -- fierce on the battlefield, a consummate professional whose commitment to his team was only surpassed by his love and commitment to his wife Alyssa and their wonderful children," said Lt. Col. John Traxler, the 17th Special Tactics Squadron commander.

Gavulic is survived by his wife and six children.

"We talked frequently of the responsibilities we hold as husbands and fathers," Traxler said. "Those were the roles he held most dear. I loved him for that and he personified qualities that I strive for."Gavulic was an Airman, a TACP, a Special Tactics operator and a Ranger. He was driven by an intrinsic desire to serve his God, his family and his country, Traxler said.

Air Force Special Operations Command TACPs with the 17 STS conduct joint special operations and are trained in multiple types of infiltration techniques including parachute operations.

Gavulic was a qualified jumpmaster and an expert in planning and controlling air combat resources for joint operations. He was also proficient in operating and supervising communications networks to support ground maneuver elements.

TACPs can be attached to Navy SEALs and Army Special Forces and Ranger units and possess the joint terminal attack control qualification to call in close air support from fighter jets, attack helicopters, gunships, artillery and naval surface fire.

"The 17th Special Tactics community should be focused on the wealth of things that he taught us through his work, his home life, and his actions: living our lives in a manner worthy of his legacy and his values," Traxler said.

(Information courtesy of the 24th Special Operations Wing Public Affairs)