Fort Hood commended seven individuals on Tuesday, July 20, for their efforts in helping with the safe return of a soldier that went missing last month.
Spc. Abram Salas II went missing on June 23, 2021, when he failed to report for duty. One of the members of the soldier's command team, Sgt. Tranasha Brinson, was the first to notice his absence and execute the necessary steps to locate Spc. Salas.
“Once she figured out the soldier was missing, she came into my office and voiced her concern as this was out of character,” said Capt. Jordan Lovin, commander, Headquarters Company, U.S. Army Garrison – Fort Hood. “She was the one to get me linked with the [soldier’s] family and she started to work the friendship network.”
The friendship network is used to describe the important community members that have a close relationship with a soldier; the soldier’s leader, friends and family members.
“Those three entities help us reach out,” Lovin said, “[and] getting all three involved lets the soldier know that there is a network supporting them.”
Installation Management Command Commanding General Lt. Gen. Douglas Gabram recognized the efforts of Sgt. Brinson and others from the company command team, as well as military police investigators and public affairs practitioners.
The general gave coins to seven individuals who worked with the community surrounding the incident to bring, what he said could have been a tragic situation, a positive outcome.
“Nobody ever talks about the saves,” Gabram said. “We don’t get accolades for that because it’s our job. We take care of each other. That’s what we do. That’s one thing special about the Army.”
The soldiers given coins from the command team include: Sgt. Brinson, first-line supervisor; Sgt. 1st Class Jose Rodriguez, acting first sergeant; and Capt. Jordan Lovin, commander, Headquarters Company, U.S. Army Garrison – Fort Hood.
According to Fort Hood Public Affairs, Lovin and Rodriguez were also instrumental in reaching out to the soldier’s family and area agencies to ensure his safe return.
“It’s leaning on each other and knowing you can call someone," Gabram said. "It’s important.”
The three military police investigators the general gave coins to are: Staff Sgt. Rosa Pacheco, Spc. Trevor Benjamin, and Spc. Kyleigh Mellott. The investigators followed numerous leads that contributed to the successful location of Spc. Salas.
III Corps deputy public affairs officer, Maj. Gabriela Thompson, also received a coin for timely communication of information and garnering the public's assistance in the process.
“It takes a village,” Gabram said. “When we say, ‘People First,’ … actions speak louder than words. This is a great example [of those actions]. The example you set is what others should follow.”
Several agencies worked together with Fort Hood leadership, including the Directorate of Emergency Services personnel, San Antonio Police, Texas Department of Public Safety, Killeen Police and other agencies.
This incident, according to Maj. Gabriela S. Thompson, III Corps deputy spokesperson, is an example of many things that Fort Hood has done differently to change the way they handle missing soldiers.