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TSgt David A. Atkinson


July 22, 1991

Eglin Air Force Base, FL, USA


On July 22nd 1991, TSgt Dave Atkinson was fatally injured following a High Altitude, High Opening (HALO) equipment parachute jump from 12,500 feet on the Eglin AFB range complex. Dave was assigned to the 123rd TAW Kentucky ANG and was participating in military freefall training with members of the 1723rd Special Tactics Squadron from Hurlburt Field, Fl. He was the only combat controller in his unit with previous active duty CCT experience and was the driving force in developing viable and realistic training programs.

Dave was a person of deep religious convictions with a remarkably strong faith as a Christian. He will be missed by all of us who knew him. Dave is survived by his wife Debra and their two children Zachary and Melissa.

How Memorial Push-Ups started, according to Chief Master Sergeant Wayne Norrad (CCT)

The date was July 22, 1991. I received a call at home from our First Sgt. Senior Master Sergeant Tony Urenda, (1723 CCS) who informed me that the 123rd Combat Control Team (ANG) was here at Hurlburt/Eglin Range for parachute training jumps, and they have not been able to locate one of their jumpers, TSgt David Atkinson.
Dave was on the CCT at Hurlburt and had just left active duty to become a member of the Air National Guard CCT in Louisville, Kentucky. I worked with Dave many times in the past when I was assigned to the special mission unit (Det. 1, MACOS, now 24 STS) at Pope AFB, NC. In that timeframe Dave and many of the Hurlburt CCT were primary augmentees to our unit and Dave was one of the best in the business and a great person, too.
It was evening, about 8:30 PM when I left the house to meet up with Tony and a few others at the squadron to drive out to the drop zone and search for Dave. The 123rd jumpers were already conducting the search and we all joined in. About 30 minutes later his body was found, he had been killed instantly upon impact. After Safety finished their on-sight investigation and pictures of the parachute equipment where taken, we put Dave in a body-bag, zipped it up and loaded him in the bed of our truck for transport to the mortuary.
We were all very distraught, we were lost for words, no one knew what to say or do at that point. So, I decided to "fall-in" the team members to do push-ups to honor our comrade, TSgt David A. Atkinson. We finished the push-ups, we shared "man hugs" with each other and made the long quiet drive back to Hurlburt.
And that is how and why "Memorial Push-Ups" became a part of our DNA. R.I.P. David.

TSgt David A. Atkinson

In conjunction with the Combat Control Association, a dedicated memorial page is available for all Combat Controllers who are no longer with us.


To view the memorial page of this fallen hero, click the button below.

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