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Search ends for soldier who didn’t return after Fort Jackson training exercise, Army says

Fort Jackson Gate 2 sign. (Google Maps/Released)
June 14, 2023

A search for a missing Fort Jackson soldier who did not return from a training exercise ended Tuesday, according to the U.S. Army.

Staff Sgt. Jaime Contreras, a drill sergeant candidate who had been missing since Monday, was found, Fort Jackson spokeswoman LA Sully said in a news release.

No information about his condition was available. More information is expected to be released in an upcoming news conference.

Contreras was reported missing at a Monday night news conference by Brig. Gen. Jason Kelly, Fort Jackson’s commanding officer.

Kelly said that Contreras was participating with the U.S. Army Drill Sergeant Academy as it conducted routine land navigation training. Contreras is a drill sergeant candidate, according to the Army.

The exercise started at about 10 a.m. Monday, according to Kelly.

Information about where the exercise was conducted, along with the last place Contreras was seen, was not available.

Contreras was supposed to return at 1:30 p.m., but did not show, according to Kelly.

“Staff Sgt. Contreras did not return at the designated time,” Kelly said at the 10 p.m. news conference. “Drill sergeant leaders and candidates immediately began a search and alerted the Fort Jackson Emergency Services that we had a missing soldier.”

Kelly described Contreras as a 40-year-old Hispanic man who was last seen wearing a uniform. Further information about Contreras, including where he’s originally from and his service record, were not available.

The Army did not say if Contreras was considered lost, or if he chose not to return. There was no word if foul play is suspected in Contreras’ disappearance.

The search was conducted on Fort Jackson grounds, but the area where the training was held was close to the post’s perimeter, according to Sully.

Along with the Army, Kelly said the Richland County Sheriff’s Department, the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division and the South Carolina Army National Guard are assisting with search.

Fort Jackson is the nation’s largest military basic training base with more than 50,000 recruits assigned there each year.


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