Cause still unknown in death of Fort Gordon soldier

This photo collage from Instagram shows Sgt. Rachel Reve McKay, who passed away suddenly April 8, 2019 while stationed at Fort Gordon in Georgia.


By JULIE MANGANIS | The Salem News | Published: April 16, 2019

MARBLEHEAD, Mass. (Tribune News Service) — A family and community are grieving the sudden loss of 23-year-old Army Sgt. Rachel Reve McKay of Marblehead, Mass. who died last week while at Fort Gordon, Georgia, serving her country.

"She was our inspiration, our pride and our joy," her father, David McKay, said in social media posts on Twitter and Instagram. "We are now deep in despair and forever in darkness. We love you and miss you Rachel and will cherish our short time with you forever. May you find the peace in heaven that you sought here on Earth."

The post was also signed by her mother, Deborah, and her sister, Halle.

McKay died on April 8, said Buz Yarnell, a spokesman for Army Base Fort Gordon in Atlanta. The cause of her death is undetermined and is being investigated by the Army's criminal investigations division, said Yarnell.

The Army also provided a casualty assistance team to work with McKay's family, said Yarnell.

Secretary of Veterans Services Francisco Urena Tweeted a photo of the plane bearing McKay's body, which landed at Logan Airport on Monday.

"Welcome home, U.S. Army Sergeant Rachel McKay," Urena posted. "My sincerest condolences to the McKay family, Massachusetts' most recent Gold Star Family."

McKay was a graduate of Marblehead High School, where she was a Salem News All-Star player on the girls hockey team and received an honorable mention as a softball player. She also played golf.

Her athletic and academic achievements continued at William Smith College, where she was a forward on the women's hockey team and was named MVP of the women's golf team.

McKay also played for the Islanders Hockey Club.

The club, in a post on social media, called McKay "an inspiration to all of us."

According to an obituary published on Monday, McKay had recently completed basic combat training at Fort Jackson in South Carolina, and was then accepted to Army Officer Candidate School at Fort Benning, Georgia.

She was a 2018 graduate of William Smith College in Geneva, New York, where she received a degree in political science.

Besides her parents and sister, and a beloved dog, Eddie, McKay is survived by her grandparents, Vincent and Esther Grimaldi of New Hartford, New York, and Edwin and Ruth McKay, of Rockport; aunts and uncles Kimmy and Marc Fortier of Hamilton, Stuart and Ann McKay of Marblehead and Mark and Kristine Grimaldi of Clinton, New York; and cousins Maddie and Samantha McKay of Marblehead.

McKay's funeral service will be private.

©2019 The Salem News (Beverly, Mass.)
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