Updated: September 08, 2020 12:32 PM
Created: September 05, 2020 08:50 PM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. —The family of a Navajo soldier who unexpectedly died at Fort Hood said they believe they’re not getting the full story about his death.
Carlton Chee, 25, of Pine Hill, New Mexico was described by his family as a man who was deeply passionate about Navajo traditions, a wonderful father and proud soldier.
He died at Fort Hood in Texas—a military base that has been plagued with issues.
The Army said in a statement Friday night that Chee collapsed while working out at Fort Hood, where he was stationed. His family is skeptical about the story command staff is giving them.
“I just don’t think it was from a fall,” said Carma Johnson, Chee’s sister. “I don’t think a brain injury can just happen from a fall. There was something that went on. He had bruises on his legs, he had a bruise on his chin.”
According to the Army’s statement, Chee was taken to the Army hospital in Fort Hood then transported to a hospital in Temple, Texas where he died several days after his collapse. They said his death is under investigation and that they’re waiting on an autopsy, which the family has also requested the results of.
The central Texas base has seen a string of incidents this year.
The bodies of two soldiers who went missing were discovered earlier this year, including the body of Vanessa Guillen, whose death garnered national attention. Multiple soldiers were arrested in connection to prostitution sting and at least six have committed suicide this year.
According to the Associated Press, this is the 28th soldier from the base to die this year, but Fort Hood officials have reported different numbers to various other outlets.
Chee’s death also comes in the wake of the removal of the commander at Fort Hood, who was bumped off of his post Tuesday. Chee’s sister says they’re well aware of the controversy surrounding the base right now, and they’re demanding answers from the Army.
“It’s a shock, we’re still in shock from it, we’re like why?” she said. “He was a very good person, he was very traditional in the Navajo tradition, he believed in it and he knows his prayers and everything. I just don’t know why it happened. We pray that we get answers.”
The Navajo Nation has also called for the base to be investigated after learning of Chee’s death.
“We are deeply disturbed by the string of deaths at Fort Hood, and if there is any malfeasance or negligence involved, the Navajo Nation calls on our national leaders to pursue every available avenue to protect the lives of our Navajo warriors and those serving in the U.S. Armed Forces,” Speaker Seth Damon said in a statement from the Navajo Nation.
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