In a recent development at Fort Jackson in South Carolina, the U.S. Army has confirmed the death of a second drill sergeant within a span of just over a week. Staff Sgt. Zachary L. Melton, 30, was found unresponsive in his vehicle on the base this past Saturday. This incident has raised concerns and prompted an investigation by the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Division.
Staff Sgt. Melton, serving with the 1st Battalion, 34th Infantry Regiment, was discovered by his unit after he did not report for duty. Brig. Gen. Jason Kelly, the commander of Fort Jackson, expressed deep sorrow over Melton’s death. “We are extremely saddened by the loss of Staff Sgt. Melton,” Kelly stated. “Our thoughts are with his family and the soldiers of the Always Forward battalion during this very emotional time.”
Melton, a native of Huntsville, Alabama, had a distinguished career in the Army, spanning over a decade. His accolades include the Army Commendation Medal with C device and three Army Commendation Medals, showcasing his commitment and service to the nation.
The cause of Melton’s death has not yet been disclosed. However, the Army’s involvement of their Criminal Investigation Division indicates a thorough examination of the circumstances surrounding this incident.
To support unit members during this challenging time, the Army has provided access to military chaplains and behavioral health personnel. This move highlights the Army’s commitment to the mental well-being of its personnel, especially in the wake of such distressing events.
This incident follows closely on the heels of another tragedy at Fort Jackson. Less than two weeks prior, 34-year-old Staff Sgt. Allen Burtram was also found deceased on the base after failing to report for work. The Columbia Post and Courier reported on this incident, which similarly prompted an investigation. As of now, there has been no indication that the two incidents are related.
In response to these back-to-back tragedies, Brig. Gen. Kelly emphasized the base’s focus on the well-being of its community. “As a Fort Jackson community, we are mourning the tragic loss of two of our drill sergeants within the past few weeks,” he said. Kelly also mentioned that steps are being taken to ensure that the base’s resiliency resources are both adequate and responsive.
The investigation into both deaths is ongoing, and further details are expected as these investigations progress. The Fort Jackson community and the broader Army family are awaiting answers while mourning the loss of their comrades.