Alaska Army soldier dies from gunshot in Fairbanks

A 22-year-old soldier died in Fairbanks over the weekend from a gunshot wound.

According to the U.S. Army in Alaska, Private First Class Jeremiah Wombacher had been attached to the 1st Stryker Brigade, stationed at Fort Wainwright since last July.

John Pennell is the media relations chief for the Army in Alaska. He said the incident happened at an apartment off-base.

“The Fairbanks Police Department are investigating the death,” Pennell said Monday.

FPD spokesperson Yumi McCulloch confirmed the department is handling the case. She said Wombacher’s death does not appear to be suspicious.

Wombacher was a cavalry scout, originally from Missouri, and joined the military in March 2018.

According to Pennell, the loss of any soldier has an impact on the base community.

“It’s also extremely emotionally difficult for the unit. For the fellow soldiers,” Pennell said. “No matter what the cause, every death is a tragedy.”

Wombacher is the eighth soldier attached to the Army in Alaska to die this year. The causes range from training accidents to traffic collisions, and some are still being investigated. Six of those killed were attached to Fort Wainwright. Recently-retired Army Alaska commander Major General Mark O’Neil was concerned enough about the the relatively high number of preventable deaths that he had a team from the Army’s Division of Behavioral and Social Health Outcomes Practice conduct an assessment at Fort Wainwright.

“Once we get the results, we do plan to release as much as is publicly releasable,” Pennell said of the assessment. “If we find that there is an issue or a problem that we can address, that is exactly what we’re going to do.”

According to Pennell, Army Alaska expects the results of that assessment to come out in January 2020.

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