Three soldiers from Ohio, Arizona and Florida killed in Fort Stewart training accident
By ROSE L. THAYER | STARS AND STRIPES Published: October 21, 2019
Three infantrymen killed Sunday in a Bradley Fighting Vehicle accident at Fort Stewart, Ga., included an 18-year veteran who served in the Iraq War and two young soldiers early in their Army careers.
Maj. Gen. Tony Aguto, commander of the base and the 3rd Infantry Division, choked back tears Monday during a news conference as he read the names of Sgt. 1st Class Bryan Andrew Jenkins, 41, Cpl. Thomas Cole Walker, 22, and Pfc. Antonio Gilbert Garcia, 21 – the three soldiers killed when the armored vehicle that they were riding in rolled off a bridge and submerged upside down in water. Three other soldiers, who were not named, were injured in the single-vehicle accident that occurred at about 3:20 a.m. Sunday during a scheduled training exercise.
“We are really feeling and sharing that pain across the division and across the entire community,” Aguto said.
The soldiers were all assigned to the same company in the division’s 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, Aguto said. The training was preparation for a February rotation at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif., and other members of the company and battalion were nearby at the time of the accident.
Jenkins was from Gainesville, Fla., and joined the Army just three days after the 9/11 terrorist attacks and deployed to Iraq in 2005 and 2008, according to his service record. During his 18 years of service, he earned three Army Commendation Medals, five Army Achievement Medals, Valorous Unit Award, Meritorious Unit Award, six Army Good Conduct Medals, National Defense Service Medal, four Overseas Ribbons, two Certificate of Achievements, the Combat Infantry Badge, the Expert Infantry Badge and the Parachutist Badge.
Walker enlisted in Conneaut, Ohio, in July 2016 and had served only at Fort Stewart, according to his service record. His awards include the Army Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Korea Defense Service Medal and Army Service Ribbon.
Garcia celebrated one year in the Army last month, according to his service record. A native of Peoria, Ariz., Garcia had earned the Army Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal and Army Service Ribbon.
The three soldiers injured in the accident were taken to Fort Stewart’s Winn Army Community Hospital with two of them treated and released Sunday, Aguto said. The third soldier transferred to Memorial Hospital in Savannah with non-life-threatening injuries and was in stable condition Monday.
The division and the U.S. Army Combat Readiness Center at Fort Rucker, Ala., are investigating the accident. Training continues at the base, the commander said, though soldiers are receiving grief counseling and religious and behavioral health services personnel are on site to assist as needed.
Tropical Storm Nestor had passed through the region earlier during the weekend and was not a factor in the accident, Aguto said.
“In any exercise, any commander has the ability to stop and question what we are doing” if they are concerned about safety, he said.
A memorial service for the fallen soldiers and their families will take place at the Georgia base, located about 40 miles southwest of Savannah.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.