2 Soldiers Die at Fort Bragg on the Same Day in Unrelated Incidents

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Sgt. 1st Class Michael Hamilton and Pfc. Patrick Hernandez
Sgt. 1st Class Michael Hamilton (left) and Pfc. Patrick Hernandez (right). (U.S. Army photos)

The Army said two soldiers stationed at Fort Bragg died Monday in unrelated deaths that shook the community at the North Carolina base.

Sgt. 1st Class Michael Hamilton, 35, of Plano, Texas, was found unresponsive in his on-post apartment and pronounced dead by emergency medical personnel.

Along a main base thoroughfare, Pfc. Patrick Hernandez, 30, died that same afternoon in a vehicle incident involving a Humvee. Four additional soldiers were injured in the mishap, two of whom were still hospitalized Wednesday.

Both deaths are under investigation.

Hamilton had just returned from deployment to Kabul in Afghanistan, where he helped with the chaotic U.S. evacuation. He served as a fire support noncommissioned officer with the 82nd Airborne Division's headquarters battalion.

"Michael was a dedicated paratrooper, passionate leader, and a loyal friend," Lt. Col. Todd Sunday, Hamilton's battalion commander, said in a statement. "He dedicated his life to serving his country and did so with great distinction."

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Hamilton, a veteran of both the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, graduated from basic training in 2006 and had previously been stationed in Germany, Texas, Alaska and Oklahoma.

Hernandez was a husband and father of four from Texas. He enlisted in the Army in August 2020 and served as a military policeman. He had recently graduated from airborne school.

"Pfc. Hernandez taught me so much in such a short time, and he was always willing to provide advice on fatherhood when he discovered I was soon to become a father," Pfc. Michael Sanders of 3rd Platoon, 108th Military Police Company, said in a statement. "He was always available to mentor me and give guidance from his past experiences."

Hernandez' death comes as Congress considers an array of changes to tactical vehicle safety, including new oversight and review panels, as well as pilot programs to determine whether black boxes similar to those installed in commercial airplanes could be used to record military vehicle mishaps.

The Government Accountability Office published a report in July that found 123 troops across the Army and Marine Corps died in 3,753 non-combat tactical vehicle incidents between 2010 and 2019.

-- Steve Beynon can be reached at Steve.Beynon@military.com. Follow him on Twitter @StevenBeynon.

Related: Fort Bragg Soldier Killed in Humvee Wreck as Congress Weighs Safety Overhaul

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