Army says second drill sergeant found dead at Fort Jackson within 8 days

The recent events at Fort Jackson in South Carolina have raised concerns and questions within the military community and beyond. In a span of just over a week, two Army drill sergeants were found dead under circumstances that are currently under investigation. These incidents have cast a somber mood over the Army’s primary basic combat training facility, prompting a thorough investigation by the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Division.

The first of these tragic events involved Staff Sgt. Allen M. Burtram, 34, a seasoned drill sergeant with the 2nd Battalion, 13th Infantry Regiment. Burtram was found dead after he did not report for duty. His passing was a shock to his unit and the wider Fort Jackson community.

Burtram, hailing from Cleveland, Alabama, had a distinguished 12-year career in the Army. His service record included an eight-month deployment to Kuwait and a 12-month stint in South Korea. The circumstances of his death are still being scrutinized, but initial reports from the Army indicated that there was no evidence of foul play.

In a closely following and equally unsettling incident, Staff Sgt. Zachary L. Melton, 30, from the 1st Battalion, 34th Infantry Regiment, was discovered unresponsive in his car. This happened shortly after Melton failed to report for work, mirroring the earlier incident involving Burtram.

Melton’s death has added to the atmosphere of unease and mourning at Fort Jackson. Having served in the Army for over a decade, Melton had spent the last three years as a drill sergeant. A resident of Huntsville, Alabama, Melton had recently seen his unit graduate its last basic training cycle before his untimely death.

The back-to-back occurrences of these fatalities are not only unusual but also deeply concerning. The Army’s response has been swift and focused, with the Criminal Investigation Division taking charge of the inquiries into both deaths. The investigations are crucial to determine the causes and any underlying issues that might need addressing.

In the interim, the Army has taken steps to support the soldiers and staff at Fort Jackson. Chaplains and behavioral health personnel have been made available to members of the affected units to assist them in coping with the loss of their colleagues.

Fort Jackson, located near Columbia, South Carolina, is a pivotal institution in the Army’s training apparatus. Home to over 3,500 active-duty soldiers, the base plays a critical role in preparing new recruits for service. The deaths of Sgt. Burtram and Sgt. Melton have thus not only impacted the immediate community but also the broader Army family.

As the investigations continue, many are waiting for answers to the many questions surrounding these tragic events. The outcomes of these inquiries are crucial for the Army to ensure the safety and well-being of its personnel and to prevent any similar incidents in the future. The loss of two dedicated soldiers in such a short time frame is a solemn reminder of the challenges and uncertainties faced by those who serve.

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