SEALs Set Safety Day After Two Died Here

March 11th, 2008  
Team Infidel

Topic: SEALs Set Safety Day After Two Died Here

Arizona Daily Star (Tucson)
March 11, 2008 By Aaron Mackey and Dale Quinn, Arizona Daily Star
Navy special operations forces across the world will stand down and review safety procedures this week after the death of a SEAL during parachute training in Marana.
Officials wouldn't say whether the death of Chief Special Warfare Operator Lance M. Vaccaro, or another fatal SEAL parachuting incident that occurred in February, triggered the order. But the Navy called the stand-down uncommon, adding that it couldn't remember the last time a similar action was taken.
The order was given Friday, a day after Vaccaro, of Reading, Pa., was killed during a parachute training exercise at Pinal Airpark.
Safety reviews such as the one scheduled for Thursday require personnel to take a step back and review procedures, officials said.
The stand-down affects all Naval Special Warfare Command units, roughly 5,400 personnel stationed across the country and throughout the world, including SEAL teams and training facilities such as the one just north of Marana, said Lt. Steve Ruh, a unit spokesman.
"We need to focus on operational risk management and make sure that 100 percent of our personnel are safe," he said.
Additionally, all SEAL training at the Pinal Airpark facility will be on hold until after an investigation into the deaths of Vaccaro, 35, and Senior Chief Petty Officer Thomas J. Valentine are complete, Ruh said. He had no timetable for how long the investigation would take.
Valentine, 37, was killed on Feb. 13 during a free-fall parachute training exercise, which is similar to civilian sky diving.
His body was found at the Mission Royale Golf Course in Casa Grande, 30 miles south of Phoenix.
Valentine, from Minnesota, was a father of two and had served in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Vaccaro, who had been a SEAL since 1997, served in Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq. He enlisted in the Navy in 1991.
"Chief Lance Vaccaro was an outstanding SEAL, a combat-tested leader and a great American," Rear Adm. Joseph Kernan, commander of the Naval Special Warfare Command, said in a press release.
Both Vaccaro and Valentine were part of East Coast-based SEAL teams.
The causes of the two fatalities appear to be different, officials have said.
Ruh didn't know how many SEALs train at the Pinal Airpark at a given time but said the facility is used by the special operations forces throughout the year and has been used for several years.
"It's one of the places we continue to go to," he said. "Roughly 65 percent of our SEALs end up there at some point."
Operating out of Coronado, Calif., and Little Creek, Va., the SEALs are an elite special operations force known for their clandestine missions and training. There are about 2,450 SEALs in the Navy.
The Pinal Airpark also is home to an Arizona National Guard aviation training center that specializes in Apache Longbow attack helicopters.

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