U.S. Army soldier dies after parachute accident at Homestead Air Reserve Base
A U.S. Army soldier who was injured in a parachuting accident at Homestead Air Reserve Base earlier this week died in the hospital.
Sgt. 1st Class Michael “Ty” Kettenhofen, 37, died Monday following surgery at Jackson South Medical Center in Kendall, the Army said in a news release.
Kettenhofen, of Orange County, California, was a member of the Army’s Golden Knights parachute demonstration team, which is based in Fort Bragg, North Carolina, but spends winters in Homestead.
A spokesperson from the team said Monday the soldier experienced a “hard landing” after a “routine jump.”
Kettenhofen was a 16 1/2-year veteran of the Army and joined the Golden Knights in the fall of 2020, said Maj. Thomas Piernicky, spokesman for U.S. Army Recruiting Command.
He had more than 1,000 jumps since joining the team, according to the Army.
In addition to his role as a Golden Knight, Kettenhofen was an infantryman. The medals he earned include the Purple Heart, Combat Infantryman Badge and the Army Commendation Medal.
“The U.S. Army Parachute Team is deeply saddened by the loss of one of our own. Sgt. 1st Class Ty Kettenhofen was loved, admired, and respected by all those who knew him for his sense of humor, joy of life and accomplishments as a senior non-commissioned officer and demonstration parachutist,” Lt. Col. Andy Moffit, Golden Knights Parachute Team commander, said in a statement. “Our hearts and faith are with his family and friends as we grieve and heal with them. Ty will be honored and remembered as a Golden Knight, Soldier, and friend.”
Information about his surviving family was not immediately available.
The Army said the accident is under investigation.
Miami-Dade Fire Rescue paramedics responded to the air base around 10 a.m. Monday and took Kettenhofen to Jackson South to be treated for traumatic injuries.
In the past five years, several members of the Golden Knights have been seriously injured in parachuting accidents over Homestead. In February 2019, three soldiers were seriously injured in a night dive over the base.
Later that same year, another soldier was injured when he landed too hard on the grounds of the base.
The Golden Knights team routinely makes free-fall jumps from 13,000 feet and higher. They are part of Recruiting Command and perform at high-profile events throughout the year, such as professional sporting events, college bowl games, parades and air shows.
They are perhaps most well-known for taking former President George H.W. Bush on several tandem free-fall jumps starting when he was 75.