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11 Fort Bliss soldiers injured after ‘ingesting unknown substance’

Soldiers of the 141st Infantry Battalion, 3rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division "Bulldogs" of Fort Bliss. (Pfc. Melissa Parrish photo/Released)
January 29, 2021

Officials at Fort Bliss, Texas are investigating an incident involving 11 soldiers injured after ingesting an unknown substance during a field training exercise on Thursday.

In a statement to American Military News, 1st Armored Division and Fort Bliss Public Affairs spokesperson Lt. Col. Allie Payne said all 11 soldiers are under the observation of medical professionals. Two soldiers are in critical condition.

“All 11 Soldiers involved in the incident remain under medical care at William Beaumont Army Medical Center since arriving in the early afternoon of Jan. 28,” Fort Bliss officials said in an updated press release Friday.

Fort Bliss officials said the soldiers “fell ill after consuming a substance acquired outside of authorized food supply distribution channels.” 

The injured personnel reportedly include one warrant officer, two noncommissioned officers and eight enlisted members.

The incident is under investigation and no further details about the substance the soldiers ingested or the injuries they sustained were available.

The press statement did not identify what unit the injured soldiers were assigned.

Maj. Gen. Sean C. Bernabe, senior mission commander of 1st Armored Division at Fort Bliss said, “We took immediate action to treat everyone involved with the best medical care available. Our Leaders are engaged at every level to provide guidance, information, and care for their teammates. Our commitment to our Soldiers and Families remains our number one priority as we work to understand what occurred Jan. 28.”

Fort Bliss, near El Paso, Texas, is the home of the 1st Armored Division, whose subordinate units include four different armored brigade combat teams (ABCTs) – the 1st ABCT “Ready First,” the 2nd ABCT “Iron Brigade,” 3rd ABCT “Bulldog Brigade” and 4th ABCT “Highlanders.” Other units under the 1st Armored Division include the 1st Armored Division Artillery “Iron Steel,” The Combat Aviation Brigade, 1st Armored Division “Iron Eagle,” 1st Armored Division Sustainment Brigade “Muleskinner” and the division headquarters battalion “Gladiator.”

Fort Bliss has seen a number of soldier deaths this month.

On New Year’s Eve, Pfc. Asia M. Graham, 19, was found dead in her barracks room.

Staff Sgt. John D.S. Bailey, 27, died in his home on Forth Bliss on Jan. 14.

Sgt. 1st Class Dejaun K. Frazier, 43, died in a motorcycle crash on Jan. 16.

Spc. Kenmaj D. Graham, 21, was traveling on foot on the East Side of El Paso on the morning of Jan. 17 when he was fatally struck by an oncoming vehicle.

Another Fort Bliss soldier, Pvt. Richard Halliday, 21, has been missing for about six months. Halliday was last seen on July 23 of 2020 and was reportedly leaving his barracks room. Fort Bliss officials reported him missing the following day after he failed to report for duty.