WO1 John Michael Wirka Jr. began his professional life in 2008 when he graduated from Florida State University (FSU) with a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering. While at FSU he excelled as a collegiate hockey player. He later worked briefly as a civilian in the engineering field. It was during this time he realized he was not fulfilling his life’s true calling.
Seeking a higher purpose, John enlisted in the U.S. Army in 2010 and immediately gravitated to the Special Operations community, specifically U.S. Army Special Forces. After successfully completing the Special Forces Qualification Course in February 2012, SGT Wirka was assigned to 3rd BN, 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne) at Eglin Air Force Base (AFB), FL. As a member of Special Forces Operational Detachment-Alpha (SFOD-A) 7325, he deployed multiple times in support of USSOUTHCOM, USNORTHCOM, and Operation Enduring Freedom – Afghanistan.
SSG Wirka later served as the Senior Instructor at the Maritime Operations Training Detachment from 2016-2018, deploying to Afghanistan as a SFC with SFOD-A 7225 in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel. He was commissioned as a Special Forces Warrant Officer in 2020 and assigned as the Assistant Detachment Commander for SFOD-A 7215.
A close teammate of John’s while on SFOD-A 7225, described him as “quiet, but when he spoke, he spoke with intention. As a dive instructor, he always brightened the students’ moods when times were hard. John was the epitome of what a Green Beret should be; hardworking, intelligent, humble, funny, kind, and dedicated. He was one of the few people that even when everything was going wrong, he found the positive side and would make a joke to keep the guys going.”
On 14 January 2021, WO1 Wirka passed away due to a non-combat-related event in San Salvador, El Salvador. WO1 John Michael Wirka Jr. is survived by his wife, Erica Anne Wirka, his daughter, Audrey Mae Wirka, and their dog, Archer.
The 5 km route begins and ends on the beach at the Flora-Bama Lounge. The entire run will take place on the Florida side of the state line (virtual participation is available).
The race package ($39.99) includes:
The Deep Dive 2021 Memorial 5k is open to virtual runners. The virtual run window opens on 1 August. Instructions for uploading your results can be found here: It's easy!
(Race packets will start going out to virtual runners by mail in late July)
Results and photos will be posted on the race page.
Adult race shirts are only available in "cardinal". Kid's race shirts are red. However, COVID-related supply disruptions could force us to substitute.