Last month, another soldier was found dead in the same lake.
Texas officials identified the body of 24-year-old specialist Francisco Gilberto Hernández-Vargas on Tuesday. The Fort Hood soldier had gone on a boating trip on Saturday and was reported missing that afternoon. On Sunday, officials recovered his body near the Stillhouse Hollow Lake, which is 15 miles from Fort Hood. Just last month, another Fort Hood soldier was found dead at the same lake.
Initial police reports indicate that Hernández-Vargas drowned, but the autopsy is underway. The Bell County Sheriff’s Department is also investigating his death. According to independent military news publication Stars & Stripes, a spokesman for the sheriff’s department said that Hernández-Vargas was riding an inflatable tube and being pulled by a boat when he fell off and disappeared from view.
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Hernández-Vargas is the 8th Fort Hood soldier to die since March, and the second one to be found at Stillhouse Hollow Lake. This is the complete timeline of all the recent deaths at or near the Killeen, Texas Army base:
- March 1: Spc. Shelby Jones, 20, was shot and killed at a strip club near Fort Hood.
- March 5: Spc. Christopher Sawyer, 29, was found unresponsive in his on-post residence.
- March 14: Spc. Freddy Delacruz Jr., 23, was among three victims found dead of gunshot wounds at an off-base apartment complex.
- April 22: Spc. Vanessa Guillén, 20, was reported missing after working in one of the regiment’s arms room. Her remains were found weeks later. A fellow soldier who was a suspect in her killing shot himself when confronted by local police.
- May 18: Pfc. Brandon Rosecrans, 27, was found dead from a gunshot wound near his burning Jeep, about 13 miles from the base.
- June 19: Pvt. Gregory Morales, 24. His skeletal remains were found off base, and foul play is suspected.
- July 17: Pvt. Mejhor Morta, 27. His body was found unresponsive by a group of fishermen in the vicinity of Stillhouse Lake. Drowning is suspected, but the investigation is ongoing.
“The Black Knight family is heartbroken by the loss of Specialist Francisco Hernández-Vargas. Our hearts go out to his family and friends during this difficult time,” Lt. Col. Neil Armstrong, commander of 1st Bn. 5th Cav. Regt said. “Specialist Hernandez-Vargas served his country honorably both stateside while at Fort Hood and abroad in Korea and Romania, and this tragic loss is felt by every member within our formation.”
According to a statement provided by Fort Hood, Hernández-Vargas was from Woodside, NY. He enlisted in the army in May 2017 and had been assigned to 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division since December 2017.
Hernández-Vargas had been awarded the National Defense Service Medal, Korean Defense Service Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal, Overseas Service Ribbon and the Army Service Ribbon.