A US Army paratrooper who was part of the elite Golden Knights demonstration team tragically died after a “hard landing” following a routine jump.
Sergeant First Class Officer Michael ‘Ty’ Kettenhofen, 37, suffered serious injuries on Monday after the tragic fall that occurred in aat the Homestead Air Reserve Base in Homestead, Florida.
The parachutist was transported to Jackson South Medical Center in Kendall, where he underwent surgery, but died shortly afterwards.
Kettenhofen, who was a 16-1/2 year veteran of the Army, joined the exclusive Golden Knights parachute team in Fall 2020. During his military career, he had successfully completed over 1,000 jumps.
Lieutenant Colonel Andy Moffit, commanding officer of the Golden Knights Parachute Team and his teammates mourned the loss of his unexpected passing, who was described as a “beloved father, son, brother, teammate and friend.”
“The U.S. Army paratrooper team is deeply saddened by the loss of one of us,” Mofitt said. “Our hearts and faith are with his family and friends as we mourn and heal with them.”
A U.S. Army paratrooper, Sgt. First Class Officer Michael “Ty” Kettenhofen, 37, a member of the elite Golden Knights demonstration team, tragically died after a “hard landing” following a routine jump Monday at Homestead Air Reserve Base in Florida
A close-up of Kettenhofen smiling during an earlier jump over the Florida coast
Kettenhoffen was awarded the Purple Heart, Combat Infantryman Badge and the Army Commendation Medal
The soldier served with both the Gold and Black Demonstration teams and as a cadre for the 2022 Fall Assessment and Selection program. As an 11B, he was a combat veteran with multiple deployments.
He had been awarded the Purple Heart, Combat Infantryman Badge and the Army Commendation Medal.
Moffit said Kettenhofen will be remembered for his “sense of humor, joie de vivre and achievements as a senior non-commissioned officer and demonstration parachutist.”
The accident is under investigation, according to the military.
The Golden Knights’ training base is located in Fort Bragg, North Carolina, but spends winters in Homestead, The Miami Herald reported.
The Golden Knights is the nickname of the elite United States Army Parachute Team (pictured)
The Golden Knights is the nickname of the elite United States Army Parachute Team.
A demonstration and competition parachute team consists of members drawn from all branches of the United States military.
Members must demonstrate excellence in skydiving. The Golden Knights make free fall jumps from 4,000 feet and above.
One of their most popular jumps was when they took the late President George HW Bush on a number of tandem dives in his later years.
In the past five years, there have been a number of skydiving accidents that seriously injured members of the Golden Knights, including three who made a night dive over the base in February 2019, the Miami Herald reported.
A photo of Kettenhofen about to jump from the plane, years before the jump that killed him
Kettenhofen (center) stands proud with his Golden Knights teammates
Prayers poured in from those who remembered Kettenhofen as a notable soldier and person on the Facebook page of the US Army’s Golden Knight.
Daniel Beard posted a photo of him with Kettenhofen and another officer at the 2008 Tomahawk Ball.
“Ty was a great leader, great friend, devoted family man. It has been an honor to serve with him and watch him grow over the past 15 years,” Beard wrote.
Another wrote: ‘SFC Kettenhofen was the black hat that pinned me with wings in 2017.’
“He’s one of those guys you just can’t forget. I’ll be skydiving them in his honor this weekend.”
Another person remembered his “kindness.”
“He was just helping me plan a birthday jump with the boys. He was so genuinely kind, loved to laugh and never knew a stranger,” she wrote. “Fly free my friend.”
Kettenhofen belonged to Orange County, California.
A friend posted a touching tribute when he learned of his sudden and tragic passing, saying he “will be missed.”
“I’ve lost a lot of people I consider friends. This is one of those I consider Brother,” he wrote in part.
“I met this guy on my first deployment when he was placed in our unit half way through the tour. I ‘Grew Up’ by his side for almost 9 years and 36 months of struggle.”
“He was always motivating and competitive. He went on to become one of the more successful men I served with.”