A Navy rescue swimmer died while training to rejoin the fleet

A Navy rescue swimmer who had served a tour as a recruiter died at Naval Air Station Jacksonville while training to re-qualify for the specialized duty.
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navy rescue swimmer
Navy rescue swimmer Peter Lagosh hoists another Navy rescue 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. Lagosh died while in a rescue swimmer training course in early June. 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 with a recruiting unit 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.

Navy rescue swimmers qualify as aircrew members and also pass a difficult initial qualification school for swimmer duty. In fleet duty, they are regularly tested for high levels of fitness and participate in 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 was assigned to a recruiting unit and served as a Warrior Challenge Coordinator, a position 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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