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Fort Hood sergeant dies in boating mishap on Texas lake

Sgt. Kelton Sphaler, a Gainesville, Florida native and crew chief with 1-62 Air Defense Artillery Battalion, was named the Black Jack NCO of the Year, July 28, 2017 at Fort Bliss, Texas. (U.S. Army/Released)

A Fort Hood sergeant died in an apparent boating mishap Monday on Belton Lake in Texas, the Army said in a statement Thursday.

Sgt. Kelton Sphaler, a 25-year-old with the 69th Air Defense Artillery Brigade, was on the lake with a fellow soldier who survived the incident and a veteran who is still missing, the Army said.

The three were in motorized canoes that overturned at about 3 p.m. Monday while out on Belton Lake, which lies between the cities of Waco and Austin.

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department led the search and rescue that located two of the three missing boaters, the Army said. That department is continuing to investigate the incident.

“Our deepest sympathies are with Sergeant Kelton Sphaler’s family during this tragedy as they mourn his life,” Col. Curt King, commander of 69th Air Defense Artillery Brigade, said in the statement. “The 69th Air Defense Artillery Brigade, including many of Kelton’s friends, will remember his patriotic service to America including several overseas deployments; he will be missed.”

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Sphaler, whose home of record is listed as Cross City, Fla., joined the Army in December 2013 as a Patriot fire control enhanced operator/maintainer, the Army said. He was most recently assigned to 4th Battalion, 5th Air Defense Artillery Regiment, 69th Air Defense Artillery Brigade, Fort Hood.

He deployed to Bahrain in support of Operation Enduring Freedom from September 2015 to June 2016.

His awards and decorations include a Meritorious Service Medal, four Army Achievement Medals, one Army Good Conduct Medals, National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal and Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal.

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