Army fatality was Texan, 27
Four other soldiers remain hospitalized after a training blast
The soldier who was killed Friday in an accidental munitions explosion on the Big Island has been identified as Staff Sgt. Oscar Rodriguez, a member of the 25th Infantry Division unit that returned from Iraq more than a year ago.
Rodriguez, 27, has been a member of the 25th Division's 2nd Brigade Combat Team since October 2002. At the time of the accident, he was a member of 2nd Brigade's 1st Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment.
The brigade, now commanded by Col. Stefan Banach, returned from a year-long combat tour in Iraq in January 2005. Thirteen 25th Division soldiers from the 2nd Brigade Combat Team were killed during the Iraqi deployment. Since then the 2nd Brigade has been training to become the Army's sixth Stryker fighting unit.
An Army spokesman last night said he did not know if Rodriguez, who joined the Army in 1996, had deployed to Iraq with the 2nd Brigade.
Rodriguez died at 5:35 p.m. Friday at Hilo Medical Center. He and four other soldiers were taken there by helicopter after they were injured during an exercise involving live ammunition at the Big Island's Pohakuloa Training Area.
The four injured soldiers were transported to Honolulu early Saturday morning and hospitalized at the Queen's Medical Center.
Kendrick Washington, Army spokesman, said the four will be transferred to Tripler Army Medical Center. He said the Army will not release their names, their medical conditions or extent of their wounds.
Washington said more details of the accident would be released later. It is now being investigated by a team of Army safely experts. A Big Island County Fire Department report said the soldiers "sustained blast trauma due to munitions malfunction."
Rodriguez, from Beeville, Texas, is survived by his wife and son.
The Schofield Barracks infantry soldier is the 12th member of the 25th Division to die in a training exercise since 1990.
The 25th Division has had to rely on using the 109,000-acre Big Island training facility for its live-fire exercises involving units of 200 or more soldiers after a federal judge rejected an Army request last month on conducting such operations at Makua Valley pending an environmental impact study.