Army infantry staff sergeant identified as victim of bear attack in Alaska
Stars and Stripes May 12, 2022
The Army has identified the soldier killed by a bear in an Alaska training area on Tuesday.
Staff Sgt. Seth Michael Plant, 30 was taken to the hospital at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, where he was declared dead, the Army said in a news release Thursday.
A second soldier who was injured in the attack was also hospitalized but has been treated and released, the Army said.
Plant, an infantryman from the 3rd Battalion, 509th Parachute Infantry Regiment, was working in a remote area of the joint based called Training Area 412, the Army said.
Army Criminal Investigation Division is investigating the attack, in conjunction with the 673rd Security Forces Squadron, 673rd Civil Engineering Squadron Conservation Law Enforcement Officers, Alaska Wildlife Troopers and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, the Army said.
“Following the initial attack and U.S. Army personnel extraction, a brown bear approached the area,” the Fish and Game Department said in a news release Thursday. “Bear spray was deployed by responding personnel and the bear left the immediate area.”
Wildlife officials found a den nearby with two brown bear cubs in it, the news release said.
“From everything we know so far, based on the scene investigation and information from other responding agencies, this appears to be a defensive attack by a female bear protecting her cubs,” Cyndi Wardlow, a regional supervisor with the Fish and Game Department, said in the release.
“At this time, the location of the bear involved in Tuesday’s attack is unknown,” the release said. “A bear that is considered a public safety threat or involved in a fatal attack may be killed by the Department.”
Plant was a native of Saint Augustine, Fla., and joined the active-duty Army in January 2015 after first serving in the reserves at Fort Benning, Ga., and Fort Bragg, N.C., the Army said.
He arrived at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in July 2021.
“Staff Sgt. Plant was an integral part of our organization.” Lt. Col. David Nelson, his battalion commander, said in the Army’s news release.
“He was a positive and dedicated leader who brought joy and energy to the paratroopers who served with him,” Nelson said. “He always had a smile on his face, he always went above and beyond what was asked of him, and he served as an inspiration to all who had the privilege to know him.”
His awards and decorations include the Army Commendation Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon, NATO Service Ribbon, Combat Infantryman’s Badge and the Parachutist Badge.