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US Army soldier dies on base in Alaska

Spc. Karolina Ferrer-Padilla. (U.S. Army photo/Released)
January 27, 2022

A U.S. Army soldier died during an on-duty accident on a military base in Alaska on Monday, the U.S. Army first revealed late Wednesday.

Spc. Karolina Ferrer-Padilla, who was assigned to the 6th Brigade Engineer Battalion, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, died in an unspecified on-duty accident on base, the U.S. Army confirmed in an emailed statement Wednesday.

Ferrer-Padilla, 20, of Santa Isabel, Puerto Rico, joined the Army in September 2019 and trained at Fort Jackson, S.C., and Fort Lee, Va., before completing the Basic Airborne Course at Fort Benning, Ga. She reported for duty in Alaska in August 2020.

Her awards and decorations included an Army Achievement Medal, a National Defense Service Medal, an Army Service Ribbon, and a Parachutist Badge.

“Spc. Ferrer-Padilla was a dedicated professional, loving wife, and faithful friend,” said Lt. Col. Justin Pritchard, 6th BEB commander. “An aspiring leader, she brought joy and inspiration to all her fellow paratroopers. The Oak Battalion and Spartan Brigade grieve alongside her family and friends, and offer our sincere condolences.”

Padilla’s on-duty death came days after two U.S. Marines were killed in an on-duty accident when the medium tactical vehicle replacement (MTVR) they were riding in rolled over, near Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, NC. 17 more Marines were injured in the accident. The two deceased Marines were identified as 18-year-old Pfc. Class Zachary W. Riffle and 19-year-old LCpl. Jonathan E. Gierke.

19-year-old Louis Barrera, the alleged driver of the seven-ton Marine military vehicle, was charged with exceeding a safe speed — which is believed to have caused the rollover — and two counts of misdemeanor death by motor vehicle.

Several other U.S. Army soldiers assigned to duty stations in Alaska have died in recent months.

One soldier, Master Sgt. Wesley Woods, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, died earlier this month after 35 minutes of CPR efforts by first responders to resuscitate him.

Two more soldiers were found dead in their vehicles over a single weekend in Alaska in November. One soldier, Sgt. Miles Jordan Tarron, was also assigned to the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson. The other soldier, Spc. Isaiah Nicholas Oneal, was assigned to Fort Wainwright.

Sgt. Christian Joseph D’Andrea, another soldier assigned to Fort Wainwright, was found dead at his off-base home earlier on in November.