FORT STEWART, Ga. (WTOC) - Three 3rd ID soldiers are dead and three more were injured after a Sunday morning training accident on Fort Stewart.
According to the 3rd ID, six 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team Soldiers were riding in a Bradley Fighting Vehicle on Sunday morning when it rolled over into the water. The accident happened around 3:20 a.m.
Three soldiers were killed in the incident, while the other three were taken to nearby hospitals to be treated for their injuries.
The three soldiers that were killed have been identified as 41-year-old Sgt. 1st Class Bryan Jenkins of Gainsville, Fla., 22-year-old Cpl. Thomas Walker of Conneaut, Ohio, and 21-year-old PFC Antonio Garcia of Peoria, Ariz.
Jenkins had served in the Army since 2001, he joined just three days after 9/11. Jenkins, a decorated soldier, served two tours in Iraq in 2005 and 2008. He also received the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal. Jenkins has been stationed at Ft. Stewart since 2014.
Walker had served since 2016 and has been stationed at Ft. Stewart for three years.
Garcia had served since 2018. He has been stationed at Fort Stewart since joining the army just a little more than a year ago.
“I would like to offer my sincerest condolences to the family members of the three soldiers that we lost,” said Maj. Gen. Tony Aguto, Commanding General for the 3rd Infantry Division.
US Army officials are not releasing how exactly the three men were killed until official autopsy results are ready.
“Tough. All of our leadership has spent time with the unit. We’ve spent time with the families. We’ve spent time with the injured soldiers. It’s been a tough time for all of us,” said Aguto.
Along with learning more about these fallen soldiers, US army officials say when the time is right and the families are ready, there will be a proper memorial service.
The injured are said to be in good condition. Two were released from Winn Army Community Hospital and one was taken to Memorial Hospital in Savannah with non-life threatening injuries.
A team from the Army Combat Readiness Center at Fort Rucker, Ala. is investigating.
“Today is a heartbreaking day for the 3rd Infantry Division, and the entire Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield community, as we are all devastated after a training accident this morning on the Fort Stewart Training Area,” said Maj. Gen. Tony Aguto, commanding general of the 3rd Infantry Division. “We are extremely saddened by the loss of three Dogface Soldiers and injuries to three more. Our hearts and prayers go out to all the families affected by this tragedy."
A news conference was held Monday afternoon to provide an update on the incident. You can watch that below:
When tragedy strikes the Ft. Stewart community, it hits the entire Hinesville and Liberty County community.
“I think anytime anything like this happens, they are a little bit shocked," said Roy Boughman, a pastor at First Baptist Church of Hinesville. "I know they were not expecting especially in-field training for something like that to happen. It’s abnormal. We really just wanted to tell them and the community that we would be praying for the families involved and you never have a time where they are not interconnected in here.”
You don’t have to be on Fort Stewart to see just how the accident impacted the community. The city of Hinesville and Liberty County are lowering their flags to half staff in honor of the fallen US Army soldiers until further notice.
The armored vehicle and soldiers are part of the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team stationed at Fort Stewart.
Congressman Buddy Carter released the following statement in reference to the incident:
"This is a tragic and devastating day for our community and nation. These brave soldiers gave everything for their nation, including their lives. Amy and I send our most sincere condolences to the families and friends of these heroes and the entire 3ID community. The sacrifices of our military families are greater than most of us will ever know.
As we learn more about the situation, we are praying for the health, hope, and recovery of the injured soldiers in the coming days ahead. We can never truly properly convey our gratitude."
Representative Carter sat down to speak with WTOC’s Lyndsey Gough on Sunday evening to discuss the tragedy.
BC: “It’s tragic and it’s devastating and it has really cast a somber mood on all of us. We see exercises all the time here in this area and we know that they’re going on, but I think it’s a reminder of just how dangerous it can be.”
LG: “When they enlist in the military, they’re prepared to give their lives overseas, but you never really think something like this could happen in training right here at home. Is there anything that could be done better to prevent these types of accidents?”
BC: “Well that’s what we want to find out and as the investigation proceeds, then certainly we’ll be looking for recommendations as to how we can make it safer and that’s why we have these type of investigations and it’s a somber reminder of the danger that is inherent with not only combat but also in training, because you have to have combat conditions in training and we want them to have that, but we want them to be as safe as possible.”
The deadly incident follows other accidents for the military, including one in June at West Point where one cadet was killed and 21 others were injured in a vehicle training exercise.
In January, a combat engineer died when his Bradley Fighting Vehicle rolled over.
Carter said pending the results of the investigation, he is not opposed to the possible suspension of the Bradley vehicles, saying one death or even one accident is one too many.
The incident is currently under investigation. WTOC will continue to follow this story.