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National Guardsman who died swimming remembered as 'phenomenal chaplain and soldier'

SALT LAKE CITY — A member of the Utah National Guard who died unexpectedly while swimming laps Saturday was a chaplain who cared deeply about his family and the freedoms that Americans sometimes take for granted, his brother recalled.

Corey Holmgren, 35, is the father of two daughters and a son, his brother Justin Holmgren said Sunday. His wife Mindi Holmgren is expecting a baby.

"They know how much their dad loved them and they can hopefully learn from his example for the rest of their lives," Justin Holmgren said. "Because he's just such an incredible man."

Corey Holmgren with his wife, Mindi Holmgren, and their children.
Corey Holmgren with his wife, Mindi Holmgren, and their children.
Family photo

The Utah National Guard in a statement Sunday called Holmgren a "phenomenal chaplain and soldier and his loss will be felt deeply within our ranks," offering condolences to his wife and children.

Holmgren was swimming at West Valley Family Fitness Center Saturday as his wife took video of him. He went under and failed to resurface, police said.

Lifeguards quickly pulled Holmgren from the water and attempted to revive him using CPR and a defibrillator, while an emergency crew stationed across the street arrived in less than 3 minutes to help, police said. But after nearly an hour of lifesaving efforts, including at a local hospital, Holmgren was pronounced dead,

The cause of Holmgren's death is still under investigation. Police have said he had no history of medical problems.

A member of the 19th Special Forces Group at Camp Williams in Bluffdale, Holmgren helped to support soldiers who recently returned from oversees and their families.

"There was a patriotism for sure that Corey had, that he cared just deeply about the freedoms that we sometimes might take for granted," the older brother said.

But he had a lighter side, too, Justin Holmgren recalled. The people he met responded to his outgoing and nonjudgmental personality.

"He just drew people in, everybody," said Justin Holmgren. "Not a lot of people could do that, but he could."

In addition to his military service, Holmgren worked as a marriage and family therapist, according to a GoFundMe campaign that has been created to help his family. Supporters who left messages on the GoFundMe page remembered Holmgren for his military service and as a missionary work.

Contributing: Tania Dean