Another soldier is missing from Fort Hood, Texas
By STEVE BEYNON | STARS AND STRIPES Published: August 21, 2020
WASHINGTON — Sgt. Elder Fernandes, a chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear specialist assigned to the 1st Cavalry Division's Sustainment Brigade, has been missing since Monday from Fort Hood, Texas, according to base officials.
“We have completed a search of the entire division area, to include motorpools, parking lots, and headquarters buildings and the unit is in contact with the soldier’s family, the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Division and civilian law enforcement agencies to help find him as we continue our search,” according to a base news release.
Fernandes, 23, was last seen by his staff sergeant Monday afternoon when he dropped him off at his residence in Killeen, the family told authorities. He was wearing the standard-issue black physical fitness uniform with the word "Army" in yellow across the chest and red athletic shoes. Fernandez is approximately 5 feet 4 inches tall and weighs about 133 pounds, according to the Killeen Police Department.
The disappearance of Fernandes follows a troubling year for Fort Hood, which is one of the largest military bases in the world with about 36,500 troops assigned to the central Texas base.
Fort Hood has had a string of tragedies this year with 28 soldiers assigned to the base dying, five of whom were homicides, according to Christopher Haug, a base spokesman. Of those deaths, 11 were accidents, one was killed in a combat zone, two died from illness, six died by suicide, and four are undetermined.
In July, the Army identified the remains of Spc. Vanessa Guillén, 20, who had been missing since April. She was killed and dismembered by a fellow soldier, Spc. Aaron Robinson, who shot and killed himself as police were close to taking him into custody, according to court documents.
In June, the remains of Pvt. Gregory Wedel-Morales, 23, were discovered after he was discharged and presumed AWOL in August 2019.
The scrutiny on the base has delayed the planned transfer of the base commander, Maj. Gen. Efflandt, who was slated to take over leadership of the 1st Armored Division at Fort Bliss, a base near El Paso, Texas. Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy said an independent panel will investigate the “command climate of the installation.”
Officials are asking anyone with information to contact Fort Hood military police at 254-288-1170, Army CID at 254-287-2722, or the Killeen police at 254-200-7905.