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Fatal accidents prompt SpecWar stand-down

Mar. 12, 2008 - 06:15PM   |   Last Updated: Mar. 12, 2008 - 06:15PM  |  
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SAN DIEGO The Navy's elite cadre of SEALs and special boat drivers will take a one-day pause Thursday to focus on their daily activities and training, officials said.

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SAN DIEGO The Navy's elite cadre of SEALs and special boat drivers will take a one-day pause Thursday to focus on their daily activities and training, officials said.

Rear Adm. Joseph Kernan, head of Naval Special Warfare Command, ordered the stand-down after last week's parachuting accident in Arizona that killed a SEAL, the sixth to die since December.

Units will hold briefings on various issues, including personal security, finances and alcohol, as well as training operations. "We'll do operational risk management once again," said Lt. Steve Ruh, spokesman for the Coronado, Calif.-based command.

The death of Chief Special Warfare Operator (SEAL) Lance Vaccaro, 35, marked the third training-related death of a SEAL in the past two months. Vaccaro, of Reading, Pa., was training at a parachute operations facility near Marana, Ariz., about 8 a.m. March 6; he was medevaced to University Medical Center in nearby Tucson where he died from his injuries, officials said. He was assigned to a SEAL team based at Naval Amphibious Base Little Creek, Va.

Navy officials were investigating the incident, which is the second fatal accident in less than a month at the facility. In the first incident, SOCS (SEAL) Thomas Valentine, 37, was killed Feb. 13 during a free-fall training jump. Valentine was assigned to Naval Special Warfare Development Group in Dam Neck, Va.

Command officials have said the two incidents "appear on the surface to be unrelated," but the investigation into the first incident continues, according to a statement.

The first SEAL training death occurred Jan. 30, when SO2 (SEAL) Shapoor Alexander Ghane Jr., 22, died after he was shot during close-combat training at the Mid-South Institute of Self-Defense Shooting near Lake Cormorant, Miss.

Ghane, of Las Vegas, enlisted in 2004 and graduated with Class 256 from the Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL course. He was assigned to a SEAL team with Naval Special Warfare Group 1 in Coronado. The investigation into that incident continues.

Recent combat operations in Iraq also have taken the lives of three other SEALs.

* SOC (SEAL) Nathan Hardy, 29, and SOC (SEAL) Michael Koch, 29, were killed Feb. 4 by small-arms fire in Iraq. Hardy, of Durham, N.H., and Koch, of State College, Pa., were assigned to a SEAL team with Naval Special Warfare Group 2 in Little Creek.

* SOC (SEAL) Mark Thomas Carter, 27, of Fallbrook, Calif., was killed in combat in Iraq on Dec. 11. Carter was assigned to Tactical Development and Evaluation Squadron 2, based in Virginia Beach, Va.

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