Local airman dies during training exercise in Arizona

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U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Kory Wade, 33, was found dead over the weekend at Roosevelt Lake in Arizona following a training mission. Wade was a 2008 graduate of Red Jacket High School in the Manchester-Shortsville school district.

Staff Sergeant Wade’s father said his son’s job during this training mission was to assist paratroopers who had just jumped – essentially, he would go out and retrieve them on a jet-ski from the water and bring them back to the main boat.

He was doing that last week, when something went wrong. The Air Force found his jet-ski right away, but it took three days to recover Sgt. Wade’s body, on June 17.

Sgt. Wade comes from a big family, many of whom still live in the Manchester-Shortsville area. The family is devastated.

“When he was young he was very shy, but when he finally came into his own, he was more outgoing and just loved life. He loved sports; he loved his motorcycle,” said Sandy Baker, Kory’s aunt.

She added: “He’s going to be greatly missed, and he was very much loved. Very much … it’s just devastating.”

His dad says Kory was a die-hard Pittsburgh Steelers fan with an infectious laugh who loved to ride his motorcycle.

Sgt. Wade entered active-duty service in 2008, according to a release from Davis-Monthan Air Force Base. He arrived at the base in 2020 and has received multiple awards and decorations, including the Air and Space Commendation Medal, Air and Space Achievement Medal, Joint Meritorious Unit Award, Air and Space Outstanding Unit Award, National Defense Service Ribbon, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, and U.S. Air Force Non-Commissioned Officer Professional Military Education Graduate Ribbon.

In announcing his death, 335th Wing commander Col. Scott Mills said, “Sergeant Wade was a model Airman and consummate professional while assigned to the 48th Rescue Squadron and he will be deeply missed.”

Manchester-Shortsville school district Superintendent Charlene Dehn issued the following statement on behalf of the district:

“On behalf of the Manchester-Shortsville Central School District, we are deeply saddened by the loss of U.S. Air Force Staff Sergeant Kory Wade. Kory grew up in Shortsville, NY and attended Red Jacket Schools, along with a close-knit group of 76 classmates, until he graduated in 2008. Kory was an excellent student and athlete. He wrestled and played baseball and football. He had a fun personality and was a good friend to everyone. We are very proud of his numerous accomplishments while he courageously served our country. While he will never be forgotten, he most certainly will be missed.

“We wish to express our deepest sympathy to Kory’s family, friends, the Red Jacket Class of 2008, and the 48th Rescue Squadron.”

Sgt. Wade’s family says they are planning to hold a memorial service locally.

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Kory Wade, 33, a 2008 Red Jacket graduate. was found dead over the weekend at Roosevelt Lake in Arizona following a training mission.