Army releases name of soldier who died during training at Fort Rucker on Sunday
By HOWARD KOPLOWITZ | Alabama Media Group | Published: September 3, 2019
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (Tribune News Service) — A Tennessee man was identified as the soldier who died during training Sunday at Fort Rucker, the base said Tuesday.
First Lt. William "Blake" Pickel, 30, of Cleveland, Tennessee, was taking part in a survival training exercise Sunday when he experienced a “health-related issue” that required him to be taken to the hospital via aircraft. He was pronounced dead around 9 a.m.
Pickel, who had been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan for combat, was in the Army since 2007.
“Fort Rucker officials are deeply saddened by the loss of this outstanding soldier,” the base said in a statement. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family. The next of kin were notified and a casualty assistance team is currently providing assistance to the family.”
As news of Pickel's death spread, tributes from friends and those who had served with him appeared on social media.
"Just found out a fellow battle buddy passed away," friend Chris Oeub wrote on Facebook, tagging several photos of Pickel. "I am glad to be able to served with you."
"I still can not believe this is real," wrote William Blair in a post tagging Pickel's personal Facebook account. "You will be deeply missed my friend."
Fort Rucker officials continued to investigate the incident Tuesday; Pickel’s cause of death was not known as of Tuesday evening.