Another drill sergeant found dead in just over a week at Fort Jackson

Noah Feit
The State (Columbia, S.C.)

COLUMBIA, S.C. — For the second time in little more than a week a drill sergeant was found dead at Fort Jackson, the U.S. Army said Monday.

The body of Staff Sgt. Zachary L. Melton, a 30-year-old with the 1st Battalion, 34th Infantry Regiment, was discovered on Saturday at Fort Jackson, Army officials said in a news release.

After he failed to report to work, an unresponsive Melton was found in his vehicle, according to the release.

The Directorate of Emergency Services were called, and Emergency Medical Services personnel pronounced Melton dead shortly after arriving, officials said.

On Dec. 8, Staff Sgt. Allen M. Burtram was discovered shortly after he failed to report for work, according to the Army. The 34-year-old with 2nd Battalion, 13th Infantry Regiment was also pronounced dead on the Army installation in the Columbia, South Carolina area.

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

Military chaplains and behavioral health personnel are available to help members of the unit, officials said.

As is the case in Burtram’s death, the U.S. Army’s Criminal Investigation Division is also investigating Melton’s death, according to the release.

Although information about Burtram’s cause of death has not been made public, last Wednesday the Army said there was “no apparent evidence of foul play.”

There was no word about Melton’s cause of death, and Army officials did not say if foul play is suspected.

There is no information connecting the recent deaths of the drill sergeants at Fort Jackson.

Melton and Burtram were not the only soldiers to have died at the base this year.

In June, Army Sgt. Jaime Contreras died during a training exercise at Fort Jackson.

Fort Jackson is the nation’s largest military basic training base, with more than 50,000 recruits assigned there each year.


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