Filipino American Soldier Found Dead Near Texas Military Base, The 3rd Death in a Month

Remains of a Filipino American soldier stationed at Fort Hood in Killeen, Texas were discovered near the base, Army officials revealed on Tuesday. 

Unnatural circumstances: Officials at the United States Army base say that the body of 26-year-old Pvt. Mejhor Morta was found by fishermen who were in a boat on July 17 near Stillhouse Hollow Lake, reports NPR.

  • Stillhouse Hollow Lake, which is under the management by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Fort Worth District, is a reservoir about 20 miles from Fort Hood.
  • Morta reportedly failed to show up for duty on July 16. Based on a preliminary autopsy report, Morta died from apparent drowning.
  • The Bell County Sheriff’s Department is currently investigating the incident, according to the Associated Press.
  • The discovery of his remains has drawn the attention of Congress as this marks the third time in a month that a soldier in Fort Hood had been found to have died under “unnatural circumstances.”
  • “The Black Knight family is truly heartbroken by the tragic loss of Private Mejhor Morta,” 1st Brigade 5th Cavalry. Regiment commander Lt. Col. Neil Armstrong was quoted as saying. “I would like to send my heartfelt condolences to his family, friends and loved ones.”
  • Morta, who joined the U.S. Army in September 2019 as a Bradley Fighting Vehicle mechanic, was from Pensacola, Florida.
  • He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division in May.
  • Among the notable awards and decorations Morta received in his short stint as a soldier include the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, National Defense Service Medal and the Army Service Ribbon.

Fourth death in months: A few weeks prior, the dead body of Pfc. Vanessa Guillen was discovered near Texas’ Leon River. 

  • Guillen, who had been missing since April, was reportedly killed by a fellow soldier at the base who then hid her corpse. 
  • Aaron David Robinson, the primary suspect in Guillen’s death, reportedly killed himself while being pursued by authorities.
  • Skeletal remains of 24-year-old soldier Pvt. Gregory Scott Morales was also found in a field in nearby Killeen in late June.
  • Morales’ case, which is still under investigation, is being treated as a homicide.
  • On May 18, Pfc. Brandon Rosecrans, 27, was found shot to death in Harker Heights next to his burned Jeep.

Independent review: The rising body count at Fort Hood has prompted the Secretary of the Army to direct an independent, comprehensive review of the command climate and culture at the massive installation, including the military community surrounding the area. 

  • The U.S. Army Public Affairs announced the review on Friday, prior to the discovery of Morta’s body.
  • Four “highly qualified expert” civilian consultants will be hired to form a panel and spend around five to ten days at the facility.
  • “The purpose of this independent review is to determine whether the command climate and culture at Fort Hood, and the surrounding military community, reflects Army values, including respect, inclusiveness, and workplaces free from sexual harassment,” the press release noted.

Feature Image via Mejhor Morta

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