GREGG K. KAKESAKO / GKAKESAKO@STARBULLETIN.COM
The entry to the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif., is shown here. Pfc. Alexander Creighton, 23, of Romoland, Calif., who was assigned to the 25th Infantry Division, was killed and nine others injured this week in a training accident.
Schofield soldier killed in training
Nine others are hurt in a truck rollover in the Mojave Desert
FORT IRWIN, Calif. » A 25th Infantry Division soldier was killed and nine others received minor injuries this week when the truck they were in rolled over and caught on fire.
John Wagstaff, National Training Center spokesman, identified the Schofield Barracks soldier last night as Pfc. Alexander E. Creighton, 23, of Romoland, Calif.
Pfc. Alexander Creighton:
The California man, 23, talked to his mother just 12 hours before he died
The nine soldiers were treated and released from Weed Army Community Hospital following the Thursday morning accident. The Army did not release their names.
Creighton, 23, talked to his mother less than 12 hours before he died, and the Hawaii-based soldier had planned to meet his parents today to spend some time together.
"We were going to drive up there and meet him," Charlotte Creighton of Romoland, Calif., said last night.
Creighton said her son, who had always been into "military kind of stuff," was considering the Army as a career.
Before joining up in June, he had been working in construction with his father.
"He was a good man and a good son and a good brother," Creighton said. "He was a man of dignity and character. He sure will be missed by a lot of people."
In addition to his parents, Charlotte and Jim, Creighton is survived by four sisters and 10 brothers. Services are pending.
The accident occurred at 9:15 a.m. Thursday, and Alexander Creighton was pronounced dead at 9:34 a.m.
Creighton was a passenger in the truck, but it was not known whether he was in the cab or sitting in the rear of the vehicle.
All 10 soldiers were assigned to 1st Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment, commanded by Lt. Col. Bryan Rudacille. Although the 10 were part of the current training mission to the National Training Center, they were members of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, which is not going to Iraq this summer, but was supporting the training of the 3rd Brigade, the Army said.
This was the National Training Center's first training death since 2003.
The center -- one of two used by the Army to train soldiers in counterinsurgency tactics for combat duty in Iraq and Afghanistan -- is located north of Barstow in the Mojave Desert about 150 miles northeast of Los Angeles. The other is the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, La.
The accident occurred on a dusty, unimproved road in the eastern remote end of "the box" -- a training area as big as Rhode Island -- close to the mock Iraqi village of Al Sharq, which was under the jurisdiction of soldiers of Delta Company, 2nd Battalion, 27th Infantry.
The accident is being investigated by the Fort Irwin Criminal Investigation Department and jointly by the 25th Division and Fort Irwin safety boards.
"The entire Army Hawaii community is saddened by this loss," said Maj. Gen. Benjamin Mixon, commander of the 25th Infantry Division and U.S. Army Hawaii.
More than 5,000 soldiers, the majority of them soldiers belonging to the 3rd Brigade Combat Team under the command of Col. Patrick Stackpole, have been in "the box" for the past two weeks as part of their final training mission before deploying to Iraq this summer.
Besides the temperature, which can climb to the high 80s in the day, the Tropic Lightning soldiers have had to endure gritty dust that can be whipped into a sandstorm without warning. Combat training operations have occurred around the clock, with soldiers getting two hours of sleep at most on any given day.
Yesterday was the final day of the exercise, and the Schofield Barracks soldiers will spend next week cleaning their equipment before going on leave or returning to Hawaii. All of the soldiers are expected back home by Memorial Day.