Fort Hood soldier killed in boating accident marks 5th soldier death on post since May

KILLEEN, Texas — A Fort Hood soldier has been identified as the victim in a Saturday drowning in Stillhouse Hollow Lake, marking the fifth confirmed soldier death tied to the installation since May 18.

Spc. Francisco Gilberto Hernandezvargas, 24, was reportedly riding an inner tube behind a boat in the area of Dana Peak Park, when he went under the water and did not resurface. His body was recovered Sunday, KXXV reported.

The lake is actually a reservoir located in Bell County and managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Fort Worth District, KTRK reported.

Hernandezvargas, a New York native, joined the U.S. Army in 2017 as an automatic rifleman and had been assigned to the 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division since December 2017, KXXV reported.

“The Black Knight family is heartbroken by the loss of Specialist Francisco Hernandezvargas. Our hearts go out to his family and friends during this difficult time,” Lt. Col. Neil Armstrong, commander of 1st Bn. 5th Cav. Regt., said in a prepared statement. “Specialist Hernandezvargas served his country honorably both stateside while at Fort Hood and abroad in Korea and Romania, and this tragic loss is felt by every member within our formation.”

Despite his youth, Hernandezvargas was a decorated soldier, having received the National Defense Service Medal, Korean Defense Service Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal, Overseas Service Ribbon and the Army Service Ribbon, KXXV reported.

Less than one month ago, U.S. Army officials found the unresponsive body of Pvt. Mejhor Morta, 26, near Stillhouse Hollow Lake. Officials also discovered skeletal remains June 21 in a Killeen field roughly 10 miles from the same lake, identified as Fort Hood soldier Gregory Morales, 24. U.S. Army officials suspect foul play in Morales’ death, KTRK reported.

Meanwhile, U.S. Army officials found more human remains July 1, later identified as missing Fort Hood soldier Pfc. Vanessa Guillen about 20 miles east of the post. On May 18, Pfc. Brandon Rosecrans, 27, was found shot to death in Harker Heights next to his burned Jeep, the TV station reported.


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