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NEW: Second Fort Jackson Drill Sergeant Found Dead this Month

Basic Training At Fort Jackson

Photo: Scott Olson / Getty Images News / Getty Images

FORT JACKSON, S.C. (WIS) - The U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Division (CID) is investigating the death of a drill sergeant who was found dead in his vehicle Saturday.

Officials from Fort Jackson reported Staff Sgt. Zachary L. Melton, 30, a drill sergeant with the 1st Battalion, 34th Infantry Regiment, was found unresponsive in his car by unit personnel after he failed to report for work.

“We are extremely saddened by the loss of Staff Sgt. Melton,” said Brig. Gen. Jason E. Kelly, Fort Jackson commanding general. “Our thoughts are with his family and the soldiers of the Always Forward battalion during this very emotional time.”

Melton — who’s home of record is Huntsville, Ala. — was pronounced dead by the Directorate of Emergency Services and Emergency Medical Services personnel shortly after they arrived.

Officials said military chaplains and behavioral health personnel are being provided to support members of the unit, which graduated their last basic training cycle on Dec. 14 and is currently on a cycle break.

According to Fort Jackson, Melton’s Army career spanned more than ten years, with the last three years as a drill sergeant at the largest of the four basic combat training installations in the Army.

“He had the Parachutist Badge, was an Equal Opportunity representative and completed the Marksmanship Master Trainer Course,” Fort Jackson said.

His awards and decorations include:

Army Commendation Medal with C device, Army Commendation Medal (3 times)

Army Achievement Medal (2 times)

National Defense Service Medal

Afghanistan Campaign Medal with campaign star

Global War on Terrorism Service Medal

Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon

Army Service Ribbon

North Atlantic Treaty Organization

Melton is the second Fort Jackson drill sergeant found dead this month.

On Saturday, Dec. 9, officials reported having found 34-year-old Allen M. Burtram, a drill sergeant with the 2nd Battalion, 13th Infantry Regiment on post at Fort Jackson. Officials said Burtram was found by unit members after he failed to report for work.

Fort Jackson said there were no apparent signs of foul play in the death of Burtram.

“As a Fort Jackson community, we are mourning the tragic loss of two of our drill sergeants within the past few weeks,” Brig. Gen. Jason E. Kelly, Fort Jackson commanding general, said. “While there are several ongoing investigations into the specifics of each of these deaths, we are taking very deliberate steps to ensure our resiliency resource offerings are adequate and responsive.”

Soldiers, veterans, and family members who need help can call the Military Crisis Line/Veterans Crisis Line at 988, chat at veteranscrisisline.net or text to 838255.

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