Army IDs soldier killed in Special Forces training accident at Ft. Bragg

One soldier was killed and seven others were injured during training Thursday on Fort Bragg.

Staff Sgt. Alexander P. Dalida, 32, of Dunstable, Massachusetts, died during the demolition training that was part of the Special Forces Qualification Course, according to U.S. Army Special Operations Command. The cause of death is under investigation.

U.S. Army soldiers attending the Special Forces Qualification Course conduct tactical combat skills training at Fort Bragg, N.C. (US Army photo)

Dalida was a student in the Special Forces Engineer Course and was assigned to 1st Special Warfare Training Group at the U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School.

A spokesman for USASOC said the others injured in the training were students and cadre at the Special Warfare Center and School, which trains the Army’s Special Forces, civil affairs and psychological operations soldiers.

He said the soldiers were transported by air and ground to Womack Army Medical Center for care.

Womack is one of the Army’s largest hospitals and has the busiest emergency department in the force. Its staff regularly trains to handle so-called mass casualty events that could otherwise sow problems when numerous injured soldiers are brought into the hospital at one time.

Lt. Col. Rob Bockholt, the USASOC spokesman, said officials were not ready to comment on what might have caused the injuries or the severity of the other injuries.

In a statement, leaders within the Special Warfare Center and School said their thoughts and prayers were with Dalida’s family and friends.

Special Forces Qualification Course students communicate with team members during the Robin Sage training exercise. (US Army photo)

“Our primary focus right now is to care for his loved ones,” said Col. Michael Kornburger, commander of the 1st Special Warfare Training Group. “We will honor Staff Sgt. Dalida and help his family in their time of need.”

“The special operations community is a close-knit family,” added Maj. Gen. Kurt Sonntag, the commanding general of the Special Warfare Center and School. “At the U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School, we consider every student who enters our institution a part of our SWCS family. Staff Sgt. Dalida’s death is a reminder that a soldier’s job is inherently dangerous.”

The Special Forces Qualification Course, which can last up to two years, is the process by which soldiers train to become Special Forces soldiers, colloquially known as Green Berets. Officials have previously said fewer than one in eight soldiers who try make it through the grueling course, which mostly takes place on Fort Bragg, nearby Camp Mackall and surrounding training areas.

Dalida had served in the Army for 11 years, officials said. He enlisted in September 2006 and trained at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, and Fort Eustis, Virginia.

Prior to attending Special Forces Assessment and Selection, officials said he served in aviation units.

Dalida’s awards and decorations include the Air Medal, Army Commendation Medal with one oak-leaf cluster, Army Achievement Medal with oak-leaf cluster, three Army Good Conduct medals, the Combat Action Badge, Aviation Badge, Parachutist’s Badge and Air Assault Badge.

In response to the incident, several elected leaders expressed sympathies for those injured.

“Please join Susan and I in praying for the families and soldiers injured today,” tweeted North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis.

Sen. Richard Burr said he also was praying for the soldiers and would follow news of the injuries closely.

Gov. Roy Cooper made similar remarks, also on Twitter.

And Rep. Richard Hudson, whose district includes Fort Bragg, said he also would monitor the situation.

“Renee and I are sorry to hear about today’s training accident at Fort Bragg,” Hudson said in a statement. “We will continue to pray for the soldiers who were injured and their families.”

The injuries are the latest in a string of unrelated incidents during military training.

On Tuesday, a soldier at Fort Hood, Texas, died during medical evacuation hoist training, according to officials.

And on Wednesday, 15 Marines at Camp Pendleton, California, were injured when their amphibious vehicle caught fire during a training exercise. Eight of the Marines were taken to a burn center in nearby San Diego, officials said. Three were listed in critical condition as of Wednesday afternoon and five were in serious condition.

All three incidents are under investigation.

On Thursday, Sen. John McCain, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said the recent deaths and injuries were a “constant reminder of the daily dangers faced by service members as they prepare to defend our nation abroad.”

“In the past few months, we have seen far too many reports of death and injury to service members due to accidents during training,” McCain said. “Four times as many service members died during routine training in the last three years than in combat. These incidents demonstrate the current over-taxed state of our military both at home and overseas, and the failure of Congress and the president to give our troops the training, resources and equipment they need.”

The Fort Bragg incident is believed to be one of the largest training accidents outside of airborne operations in recent years for the nation’s most populous military installation.

In 2014, one soldier was killed and seven others were injured during an artillery training exercise. Other mass casualty incidents on post since that time have been related to motor vehicle wrecks or parachute jumps.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

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