Highly Decorated Kildare Soldier Dies Tragically In Parachuting Accident

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Declan O'Connell Kildare via Defence Forces

An Irish soldier has died in a parachuting accident in Spain.

Declan ‘Dec’ O’Connell has died in an incident near an aerodrome in Bollullos de la Mitacion, a half-hour drive from the southern city of Seville in Andalucia.

54-year-old O’Connell, from Newbridge, Co Kildare, is understood to have died after a “bad landing” in a field a kilometre away from a one-runway aerodrome called La Juliana.

A spokesman for a regional government-run emergency coordination centre, confirmed: “An Irish national died in a parachute accident on Sunday near La Juliana Aerodrome in Bollullos de la Mitacion in the province of Seville during his landing.

Earlier Ireland’s armed forces confirmed the death in a statement on Sunday and said his family members are being informed of the news.

The Defence Forces can confirm that a serving member has died in a parachuting accident in Spain.

He was off duty at the time,” it said.

The Chief of Staff of the Irish Defence Forces, Lieutenant General Seán Clancy, sends his deepest sympathies to the family of Acting Sgt Maj O’Connell and stated that “Declan was an outstanding soldier and leader who was highly respected by all who had the pleasure to serve with him. He will be sorely missed by his Defence Forces family and my thoughts and condolences go out to his family at this extremely difficult time.”

He enjoyed a highly productive and successful career as per military.ie ”Acting Sgt Maj O’Connell had a very distinguished 33-year career in the Defence Forces. He completed a number of international military courses, including the prestigious Platoon Sergeants Battle Course with the UK Armed Forces and leadership courses in the NATO School in Oberammergau, Germany. He was a physical training instructor, confidence training instructor, driving instructor, APC Instructor and live fire tactical trainer, and he trained officer cadets in the Cadet School for over 20 years.”