By Patrick YoungOctober 25, 2019
3rd Infantry Division commander, Maj. Gen. Antonio Aguto, accompanied by Michael Barksdale, the ground mishap investigator with the Army Combat Readiness Center on Fort Rucker, Alabama held a press conference Oct. 21 to share information about a training incident on Fort Stewart Oct. 20, where three Soldiers died and three more were injured.
A visibly moved Aguto released the names of those killed in the incident, including Sgt. 1st Class Bryan Jenkins, 41, of Gainsville, Florida; Cpl Thomas Walker, 22, of Conneaut, Ohio, and Pfc. Antonio Garcia, 21, of Peoria, Arizona.
"This is a tragic and devastating day for our community and nation," Aguto said. "These brave Soldiers gave everything for their nation, including their lives."
He thanked everyone from across the nation and world for keeping the Soldiers in their thoughts and prayers and expressed his most sincere condolences to the families and friends of those injured and killed.
Although the incident remains under investigation, Aguto said the M2 Bradley Fighting Vehicle, with its six occupants, was part of a company level movement around 3:20 a.m., when it left a bridge, rolling over into the water. He said they were maneuvering with their company as part of 2nd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiments, train-up for the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team's rotation to the National Training Center on Fort Irwin, California. The three injured Soldiers were evacuated to Winn Army Community Hospital on Fort Stewart. Two were treated and released the same day and the third was transferred to Memorial Hospital in Savannah, where he was reported in stable condition.
Aguto said while training is tough, realistic and occurs in various terrains and weather conditions on Fort Stewart, safety is always a factor - and would be part of the investigation. He said leaders try to identify threats and mitigate them; but hopes to gather additional feedback from the investigation.
Barksdale said the field report would take about three to four weeks, then the reports would be provided back to the commander and eventually to the Army Combat Readiness Center.
Aguto said the installation has a number of resources to help the affected Soldiers and Family members, including behavioral health counselors, chaplains and casualty assistance officers.
"We are extremely saddened by the loss of three Dogface Soldiers and injuries to three more," Aguto said. "Our hearts and prayers go out to all the families affected by this tragedy."
The 1nd ABCT commander, Col. Trent Upton later said Jenkins, Walker and Garcia's loss was terrible for their families and the members of the unit too.
"The loss of any Soldier is always tragic, but losing multiple Soldiers only hurts that much more and affects the entire unit," Upton said. "Our thoughts and prayers are with the Families and we are working through this extremely difficult time and doing our best to support those affected by this tragedy."