News Branch Air Force

Air Force cadet died of blood clot in lung, autopsy finds

"I was so proud of the man he had become."
Jeff Schogol Avatar
Hunter Brown
Air Force Academy Cadet 3rd Class Hunter Brown died on Jan. 9, 2023. (U.S. Air Force Academy)

A coroner has determined that Air Force Academy Cadet 3rd Class Hunter Brown died of a blood clot in his lungs that was caused by an injury to his left foot that he sustained during football practice weeks earlier, according to a copy of Brown’s autopsy report that was provided to Task & Purpose.

El Paso County Coroner Jarod Murdoch has ruled that Brown’s Jan. 9 death was accidental, the autopsy report says. The Colorado Springs Gazette newspaper first reported on Murdoch’s findings.  

Originally from Lake Charles, Louisiana, Brown, 21, was majoring in management while pursuing a minor in French at the academy. On cadets’ first day back from winter break, Brown collapsed while on his way from his dormitory to class. First responders on the scene were unable to revive him.

“The academy’s thoughts remain with Cadet Brown’s family at this very difficult time,” the Air Force Academy said in a statement to Task & Purpose on Friday.

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Brown was a reserve offensive lineman for the Air Force Falcons, the academy’s football team.  He played in the Falcons’ 48-17 victory over the University of Northern Iowa and their 48-20 win over Nevada University during the 2022 football season.

Air Force Academy head football coach Troy Calhoun said that the Falcons were “blessed and fortunate” to have Brown on the team.

“He was a pure joy to coach and have as a teammate,” Calhoun said in a Jan. 10 statement. “He was tough, a great worker, and no one unselfishly pulled harder for others than Hunter. His mom and dad, Candyce and Dustin, raised a wonderful son who made each of us a better person. We love our great brother, and our thoughts and prayers are with Hunter’s incredible soul and his family.”

Air Force Lt. Gen. Richard M. Clark, superintendent of the academy, described Brown as “a standout offensive lineman” on the football team  who was well-respected by his squadron.

“The entire U.S. Air Force Academy mourns his loss, and our hearts and condolences are with his family, his squadron, and all who were touched by this incredible young man,” Clark said in a Jan. 10 statement.

His father Dustin, who served in the Navy, told Military.com that his son wanted to carry on his family’s legacy by joining the military, and he also wanted to play football. Attending the academy allowed him to do both.

In a Jan. 14 message posted on her Facebook page, Brown’s mother Candyce wrote that she will miss her son’s big smile, making his sister laugh, and talking to his father about sports.

“I’m heartbroken that I’ll never see him on the football field again, graduate from the Academy, establish a career, get married, or have kids,” she wrote. “He was my joy and I loved being his mom. I was so proud of the man he had become. We are so thankful for all of the support and prayers we have received, they have definitely eased some of the pain. Please continue to pray for our family.”

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