After losing one of their own, the Navajo Nation has demanded an investigation into the deaths and allegations surrounding the army base. “We are deeply disturbed.”
Yet another tragic incident in a series of deaths surrounding the soldiers in Fort Hood is highlighting the need for a deep investigation at the Texas base. A 25-year-old Fort Hood soldier died after he collapsed during a training exercise on August 28. According to the Fort Hood officials, as per NY Post, Pvt. Corlton L. Chee passed away on Wednesday, September 2.
Chee was rushed to the Carl R. Darnall Medical Center after he collapsed while training on August 28. He was later moved to Baylor Scott & White Medical Center in Temple, Texas, on August 30. Not many details have been shared regarding the soldier’s death as the case is still under investigation but it was reported that Chee’s family members were by his side when he took his last breath.
“Every loss affects every single person in this Battalion because we are a family of warriors, but this is exceptionally heartbreaking,” Lt. Col. Ron Sprang, commander of the 2nd Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment, said in a statement.
Chee’s death was reported on the same day the base welcomed the new commander Major General John Richardson IV. Richardson is taking over the same role as Deputy Commanding General Scott Efflandt after he was removed from the position on September 1, reported The Daily Mail. The decision was finalized after the base was in the news regarding a string of suspicious deaths with suspected foul play in at least five of the deaths.
On August 25, the body of Sgt. Elder Fernandes, 23, was found eight days after he went missing. He had claimed that he had suffered from sexual abuse at the base. Before Fernandes, 20-year-old gt. Vanessa Guillen’s dismembered body was found after she vanished right after disclosing about sexual harassment to her family.
After learning about the death of Chee, the Navajo Nation said it was “deeply disturbed” by the recent demises at Fort Hood, Texas. Chee was one of their own, reported CNN.
Navajo Nation speaker Seth Damon said in a statement, “We are deeply disturbed by the string of deaths at Fort Hood, and if there is any malfeasance or negligence involved, the Navajo Nation calls on our national leaders to pursue every available avenue to protect the lives of our Navajo warriors and those serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.”
“When we lose just one of our honorable warriors, the entire Nation feels that pain,” Navajo Nation Council Delegate Jamie Henio said
According to the data obtained by the Associated Press from Fort Hood officials, Chee’s death marks as the 28th one from the Central Texas base this year, reported NY Post. According to the publication, the base recorded the highest number of soldier murders and sexual assault cases among all Army installations.
As per the statement released by Police in Temple, no signs of foul play were found in the initial investigation when Sgt. Elder Fernandes’ body was found off base. He had been transferred to a different unit after he opened up about an “abusive sexual contact,” as the Army official as per CNN.
The Army also announced the commencement of a new investigation regarding leadership decisions related to the death of Spc. Vanessa Guillen whose remains were found in June. The suspect in her disappearance, another Fort Hood soldier, took his own life once he was confronted about the whole ordeal, as per Army’s Criminal Investigation Division. An independent review board was announced after Guillen’s death, made up of five civilians who would be responsible for reviewing the “command climate and culture” at Fort Hood.
In June 2020, another soldier, Pvt. Gregory Scott Morales’, 24, bones were found in a Killeen field. 10 months after he had disappeared. He was one of the many soldiers who had died under mysterious circumstances. Fort Hood, in their statement pointed towards foul play.
According to a statement given to CNN back in July, the base accepted the number of deaths as 23 in 2020 with seven off-duty accidents, seven suicides, one combat-related death, and four homicides.
New commander General Richardson launched Operation Phantom Action to initiate conversations and counseling between soldiers and their chains of command especially regarding issues of sexual harassment, reported The Daily Mail. The Army also revealed that head of the Army’s Futures Command, General John Murray, would be starting a new investigation to look into how deceased Vanessa Guillen’s reports of sexual harassment, disappearance, and death were handled by the leaders at Fort Hood.
Ryan McCarthy, Secretary of the Army revealed that the investigation came into action because of the increasing number of incidents at the base. He said, “If you look at the numbers this year on the installation for pursueous crimes, sexual harassment, sexual assault, the numbers are high, very high this year. And so the trends coupled with that survey, we needed to get a much more comprehensive look about the challenges that Fort Hood is experiencing,” reported CNN.
“We need to understand the root causes so that we can make the appropriate changes, whether that’s a leadership issue, resources, conditions on the ground, our systems. The numbers are bad, and we need to make some adjustments because we’re very concerned,” McCarthy added.