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Another Army soldier missing at Fort Hood; search underway

Sgt. Elder Fernandes. (Fort Hood, U.S. Army photo/Released)
August 21, 2020

U.S. Army Sgt. Elder Fernandes, 23, stationed at Fort Hood, Texas has gone missing and his unit is actively searching for him. Fernandes’ disappearance comes amid a string of recent deaths and disappearances at Fort Hood.

Fernandes, a Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear (CBRN) Specialist assigned to the 1st Cavalry Division Sustainment Brigade, was last seen on Monday according to the Kileen Police Department. The police press statement said Fernandes was last seen by his Staff Sergeant on Monday afternoon when he dropped Fernandes off at his residence in the 2700 block of Woodlands Drive.

“Elder Fernandez is approximately 5’4” tall and weighs approximately 133 pounds. He was last seen wearing black army PT shorts and t-shirt with red athletic shoes,” the Killeen Police Department reported.

The Fort Hood official Twitter account tweeted Fernandes’ picture on Thursday with a notice, “MISSING SOLDIER ALERT <—-PLEASE SHARE#FortHood #USArmy #BOLO #MissingPerson.”

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Fernandes’ disappearance comes months after another Fort Hood soldier, Pfc. Vanessa Guillen, 20, went missing in a high profile case in April. Guillen’s remains were found in June. There have been eight Fort Hood soldiers who have died at or near the base in 2020, Army Times reported.

A Fort Hood press release also states, “We have completed a search of the entire division area, to include motorpools, parking lots, and headquarters buildings and the unit is in contact with the Soldiers Family, the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Division and civilian law enforcement agencies to help find him as we continue our search.”

The official Twitter account for the 1st Cavalry Division also shared Fernandes’ photo and tweeted more information about who to contact regarding the soldier’s whereabouts. “We are seeking your help in locating Sgt. Elder Fernandes. Please contact the Fort Hood Military Police at 254-288-1170 or US Army CID at 254-287-2722, if you have any information on his whereabouts.”

Texas state Rep. Liz Miranda tweeted an additional photo and information about Fernandes Thursday. “SGT Elder Fernandes is a 74D, CBRN Specialist, who was last seen at approximately 18 0745 AUG 20 at CRDAMC. From Brockton,MA. Should there be any sightings contact the POC listed below. Mobile: 254-317-8071 or his aunt in MA 1 (508) 513-8340 Let’s bring him home safely.”

Guillen had reportedly raised concerns with her family about sexual harassment at Fort Hood prior to her disappearance and death. Her family’s attorney has criticized the Army bases handling of her disappearance and said officials lied to her family about the case.

Another Fort Hood soldier, Pfc. Brandon Scott Rosecrans, 27, was found shot to death and his vehicle set on fire in May. A Texas man, Brandon Michael Olivares, was recently arrested and charged for Rosecrans’ murder.

The body of another Fort Hood soldier, Pvt. Gregory Wedel-Morales, 23, who had been missing since August of 2019, was found in June.

Fernandes’ disappearance comes just days after the  Army began an independent panel to review the command climate and culture at Fort Hood and in the surrounding area around the base. The panel of five civilian investigators are reviewing whether that climate reflects the Army’s standards on safety, respect, inclusiveness, diversity, and freedom from sexual harassment. The review will also look at the base’s historical data on sexual assault prevention, sexual harassment and incidents involving missing soldiers.