PHOENIX -- An Arizona-born airman, who deployed to several war zones, was killed in a training accident in Nepal.
Sgt. Sean Barton, a 2003 graduate of Barry Goldwater High School, fell 20 feet off a metal structure and suffered a fatal head wound, according to his mother.
"He had a team with him, and they did everything they could have possibly done. It was an accident," Leona Bix told 3TV.
Her son's body was flown to Phoenix on Thursday, in preparation for funeral services next week.
"He was one of the toughest, strongest men you'd ever meet but took great pride in calling himself a 'momma's boy,' " she said.
Barton and the 320th Special Tactics Squadron, based in Japan, were involved in a month-long training mission in the mountains of Nepal.
In his 11 years in the military, Barton deployed several times to Iraq and Afghanistan. He was a master parachutist, military free-fall master parachutist, combat dive supervisor and recovery team leader.
"It was very exciting to him. The ability to help people gave such meaning to what he was doing. As a mother, of course I was worried about what he was doing, but he was so happy," Bix said.
Barton is survived by his wife, parents and several siblings in Arizona.