Tragic Death of U.S. Army Drill Sergeant at Fort Jackson Prompts Investigation

COLUMBIA, South Carolina – A U.S. Army drill sergeant based at Fort Jackson in Columbia, South Carolina, was found dead on Saturday, just 10 days after another drill sergeant was found dead at the same training base.

The 30-year-old Staff Sergeant Zachary Melton was located in his vehicle after he failed to report for work. Melton was attached to the 1st Battalion, 34th Infantry Regiment. Fort Jackson officials stated that Melton was pronounced dead by emergency medical services personnel shortly after they arrived at the scene. His next of kin have been notified and the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Division is investigating the death.

“We are extremely saddened by the loss of Staff Sergeant Melton,” Brigadier General Jason Kelly, the commanding general at Fort Jackson, said in the release. “Our thoughts are with his family and the soldiers of the Always Forward battalion during this very emotional time.”

Melton’s death is the second that Fort Jackson has endured in the past two weeks. On December 8, 34-year-old Staff Sergeant Allen Burtram, with the 2nd Battalion, 13th Infantry Regiment, was found deceased by his unit members after also failing to report for work.

Three drill sergeants have died at Fort Jackson in 2023. This is a cause of concern and the deaths have raised questions regarding the well-being and working conditions of drill sergeants at the training base. The Army Criminal Investigation Division is looking into the incidents to determine if there are any common factors contributing to the deaths.

According to the base’s website, Fort Jackson is the main production center for basic combat training for the Army, training roughly 50 percent of all U.S. soldiers who enter the forces each year. Over 60 percent of all women who enter the Army each year also trained at Fort Jackson. The deaths of the drill sergeants are a tragedy for the base which plays a significant role in training new recruits for the U.S. Army.

In conclusion, the deaths of the two drill sergeants at Fort Jackson within a span of 10 days have raised concerns and the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Division is actively looking into the incidents to determine the cause of death and potential contributing factors. The tragic loss of these two servicemen has deeply impacted the base and the Army as a whole.