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One dead, 12 injured in Fort Polk rollover accident – Stars and Stripes

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One dead, 12 injured in Fort Polk rollover accident

A 1st Special Forces Command soldier died and 12 others were injured after a military vehicle rolled over during training in Louisiana, military officials said Thursday.

Staff Sgt. Jacob A. Hess, 34, of Belton, Mo., died of wounds sustained during the accident early Wednesday at the Joint Readiness Training Center in Fort Polk, La., 1st Special Forces Command said in a statement.

Hess, who joined the Army Reserve in 2004 and enlisted as active duty a year later, was assigned to the 97th Civil Affairs Battalion, 95th Civil Affairs Brigade (Special Operations) (Airborne), at Fort Bragg, N.C.

“Jacob was a talented noncommissioned officer and dedicated member of the brigade,” Col. Charles R. Burnett, commander of the 95th Civil Brigade, said in a statement. “He will be greatly missed by those who had the great fortune and opportunity to know him.”

The incident involved several Humvees, Fort Polk spokeswoman Kim Reischling said Thursday. It remains under investigation through the Army Combat Readiness Center.

Of the 12 injured, four were National Guardsmen from the Las Vegas-based 72nd Military Police Company. Others were from the 95th Civil Affairs Brigade and the 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne), Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.

“Our sympathies go out to the family of the individual that was killed,” Brig. Gen. William Burks, Nevada’s adjutant general, said in a statement prior to the release of Hess’ name. “We are closely monitoring this situation and hope for a speedy recovery to those who were injured.”

Hess deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom from 2007 to 2008, and from 2009 to 2010, the 1st Special Forces Command statement said.

His awards include four Army Commendation Medals, six Army Achievement Medals, the Meritorious Unit Citation and the Navy Unit Citation.

More than 5,000 National Guard troops from several states are at the Joint Readiness Training Center this month for drills that put brigade combat teams through simulated combat, KALB-TV in Alexandria, La., reported this week.

It was the fourth fatal rollover training accident so far this year and the second in about a week.

Last week, Marine 1st Lt. Hugh C. McDowell, 24, died and six other Marines were wounded when their Light Armored Vehicle rolled over during training at Camp Pendleton, Calif., on May 9.

Weeks earlier, Marine special operations Staff Sgt. Joshua Braica, 29, died April 14 after his MRZR tactical vehicle, an ultralight all-terrain utility vehicle, rolled during a unit training exercise at Camp Pendleton. The incident left two other special operations Marines wounded. 

On Jan. 14, Army Spc. Octavious Deshon Lakes Jr., 22, died when his M2 Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle rolled over at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif. Three others were injured. 

All three of those accidents remain under investigation.

ferguson.brian@stripes.com

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