Navy rescue swimmer Peter Lagosh hoist a fellow swimmer into an MH-60S assigned to the “Dragon Whales” of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 28, attached to the hospital ship USNS Comfort (T-AH 20), during a rescue swimmer subject-matter expert exchange with the Colombian army in Santa Marta, Colombia, Aug. 24, 2019. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Morgan K. Nall.

A Navy rescue swimmer died last week at a training course at Naval Air Station Jacksonville that would have requalified him fleet duty. Chief Petty Officer Pete Lagosh was a career-long Aviation Rescue Swimmer who had just completed a tour as a recruiter in Richmond, VA., specializing in prepping recruits for the Navy’s most demanding “Warrior” jobs. Navy officials said Lagosh died while taking a two-week training class that would have requalified him as a rescue swimmer for an assignment in Japan. 

The Navy did not release details on Lagosh’s death except that he was “conducting training” while in “on-duty status and enrolled in the Navy’s Surface Rescue Swimmer School (SRSS) Category II refresher course,” a two-week requalification course for rescue swimmers who have been away from duty at least a year.

The Navy segments its rescue swimmer corps into several different rates, but all pass difficult initial qualification schools and are regularly tested for high levels of fitness and demanding training. Lagosh, the Navy said, had follow-on orders to Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 12 in Japan when he finished his requalification.

According to a GoFundMe page and social media posts from friends and family, Lagosh graduated from high school in Cudahy, Wisconsin in 2001 and joined the Navy in 2007. As a rescue swimmer, he deployed several times as aircrew on MH-60s with Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 28 in Norfolk, VA.

In Richmond, he served as a Warrior Challenge Coordinator, a position within the Navy’s recruiting corps that focuses on prepping recruits for the Navy’s most physically demanding jobs, including rescue swimmer, EOD techs, SEALs, special warfare combatant crewmembers and Navy divers.

In a social media post, a former rescue swimmer said that Lagosh was a role model in their community. Erik Kopack, who now owns a Norfolk coffee shop, called Lagash “a loving father and husband, who always had a smile and was ready to lend a hand to anyone that needed it.”

Kopack said he was assigned with Lagosh in Norfolk, where “he truly encapsulated ‘So Others May Live’ into everything did. He gave a damn about the job and everyone involved.”

According to Navy officials, most of Logash’s 17 years in the Navy were spent training to be a rescue swimmer or with two operational squadrons in Norfolk.

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