Fort Benning soldiers mourned the death of a popular Command Sergeant Major who was killed after another soldier struck him, launching his vehicle off a bridge.
According to Army Times, CSM Thomas Roy Morgan was struck Tuesday morning as he was driving over the Oglethorpe Bridge that crosses the river separating Columbus, Georgia from Phenix City, Alabama.
The other driver in the accident -who was also a soldier- quickly changed lanes to avoid hitting a car that had stalled but ended up hitting Morgan’s jeep, sending it out of control, according to Columbus Police officials.
Morgan’s vehicle cleared the guardrail of the bridge before getting caught in an embankment of trees along the Chattahoochee River, falling roughly fifty feet before becoming stuck in the trees. Morgan was thrown from the Jeep and landed on the Alabama side of the river.
The 50-year-old CSM was transported to the hospital but pronounced dead five hours later, succumbing to injuries sustained from blunt force trauma.
Morgan, a seasoned infantryman, was the top enlisted soldier of the 2nd Battalion, 47th Infantry Regiment, 194th Armored Brigade at Fort Benning, Georgia, which is tasked with training tankers and cavalry scouts.
Morgan began his military career in 1984, serving four years with the Marines. He would later serve a decade in the Alabama National Guard before transferring to the Army in 1988. In 2003, Morgan partook in the initial push into Baghdad with the 3rd Infantry Division, earning him the Combat Infantry Badge and a Bronze Star with “V” device.
Armor School top NCO CSM Alan Hummel said in an Army news release that Morgan’s soldiers regarded him as a “father figure.” Hummel called his death a “huge loss for the brigade.”
“He was the type of leader who improved any organization or soldier who was fortunate enough to be led by him”, said LTC Duane Patin, Morgan’s Battalion Commander. “We are at a loss without his friendship and consistent optimism. He will be missed.”
In addition to a unit that it now without a Command Sergeant Major, Morgan leaves behind a wife, five children and four grandchildren.
Columbus Police identified 26-year-old PFC Justin Prohaska as the other driver in the wreck, who told police he thought Morgan was changing lanes instead of avoiding a pickup which had stalled in the middle of the road.
Slamming on the brakes, Prohaska swerved to avoid hitting the pickup, striking Morgan’s jeep. Columbus Police SGT Chris Anderson says this is the first time he’s heard of a vehicle going over the side of the bridge.
When asked whether or not charges against Prohaska have been filed, Anderson said “not yet, but that is coming.” Although no specifics were mentioned, Anderson said they would likely not be felony charges.
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