Fort Hood Soldier Dies After Collapsing During Physical Training
Less than two days after a change in leadership at Fort Hood, the base is once again reporting the death of a soldier stationed there.
According to a media release issued Friday morning by Fort Hood, 25-year-old Pvt. Corlton L. Chee died on Wednesday, September 2nd.
Pvt. Chee reportedly collapsed while conducting physical fitness training on Friday, August 28. He was transferred to Baylor Scott & White Hospital in Temple on Sunday, August 30, where he later passed away with his family at his bedside.
The soldier's death remains under investigation, and an autopsy has been scheduled with the Southwestern Institute of Forensic Sciences in Dallas.
Pvt. Chee's home of record was Pinehill, New Mexico. He joined the service in February of 2020 as a Tank Crewman, and has served at Ft. Hood since July 2020 as part of the 2nd Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division. His awards and decorations included the National Defense Service Medal and the Army Service Ribbon.
“Our team is devastated by the loss of Pvt. Chee," said Lt. Col. Ron Sprang, commander of 2nd Bn. 12th Cav. Regt. "Corlton was an amazing Trooper and so full of life and potential. Every loss effects every single person in this Battalion because we a family of warriors, but this is exceptionally heartbreaking. The entire Thunderhorse team sends our condolences to his family members and friends. Our thoughts and prayers are with them during this difficult time."
News of Pvt. Chee's death comes two days after Maj. Gen. John B. Richardson IV formally assumed duties as deputy commanding general for operations of III Corps and acting senior commander of Fort Hood. Gen. John Murray, commanding general of Army Futures Command, joins the Major General and is tasked with leading an in-depth investigation of Ft. Hood's handling of the investigation of Spc. Vanessa Guillen's murder.
A five-member civilian team also arrived at Ft. Hood this week to conduct a review of the culture on and around base.
"The [Fort Hood Independent Review Committee] assessment will include a review of historical data and statistics; interviews with a wide range of Fort Hood personnel; an evaluation of policies, regulations and procedures regarding sexual assault prevention, sexual harassment, equal opportunity and responses to reports of missing Soldiers; an evaluation of leaders’ training, education, abilities and effectiveness; and the command climate at various units and its impact on the safety, welfare and readiness of their Soldiers," Army officials said.
Meanwhile, Maj. Gen. Scott Efflandt will remain at Ft. Hood to provide support as members of III Corps return from a mission supporting Operation Inherent Resolve. He had been designated to transfer to Fort Bliss in El Paso to lead the 1st Armored Division, but the Army announced this week that they will name a different commander for the division.
A string of disappearances and deaths of Ft. Hood soldiers have undermined the public's trust in leadership there over the past several months. Megan Vanselow and Eric Franklin with our partners at News 10 report that 26 Ft. Hood soldiers have died in 2020, 5 of which have been ruled homicides. 38 died in 2019. According to officials, Fort Hood accounts for the highest number reported sexual assault, harassment, and homicides for the entire Army formation.
Most recently, the death of Sgt. Elder Fernandes was ruled a suicide after he was reportedly found hanging from a tree in Temple on August 25. Sgt. Fernandes went missing on August 17th after officials say he was dropped off at home by a staff sergeant.
Sgt. Fernandes reported having been sexually harassed on post. The report prompted an investigation that began in May. Sgt. Fernandes was transferred to a different unit, which officials said was mean to ensure he received proper care and that there were no opportunities for reprisal.
At an August 26 press conference, Ft. Hood officials said they found no evidence of the alleged harassment, that the subject of the investigation passed a polygraph test, and that there were no corroborating witnesses. They said Sgt. Fernandes had displayed a noticeable change in behavior over the past few months. They also revealed that he had been hospitalized on base before his disappearance.
Sgt. Fernandes' family have expressed doubts about Ft. Hood's account of what happened to him.