Fort Jackson holds memorial service for SFC Jaime Contreras, reports cause of death still unknown

COLUMBIA, SC (WOLO) — A memorial service was held at Fort Jackson’s Main Post Chapel for Sergeant First Class Jaime Contreras, who was promoted to the rank of SFC posthumously.

Nearly 150 soldiers attended the ceremony for Contreras — who passed away on June 12th.

According to Fort Jackson officials, Contreras was a drill sergeant candidate in his eighth week of a ten week class.

Commandant of the U.S. Drill Sergeant Academy, CSM Rickey Jackson, says losing one soldier is one soldier too many.

“We go through so much to take care of our soldiers in day to day training. But I’m gonna tell you the loss of SFC Contreras–it really hurt our organization. We are truly still hurting from this. But today was a day for us to come in here and just our spirits to be up, and to give the family, you know, to show them that we care. And to show our community we care about a lost soldier. This is not easy.  But today we’re hoping is a step forward for all of us as we pay respect to him to move forward,” Jackson says.

Fort Jackson officials say forty-year-old Contreras went missing during land navigation training. He was found unresponsive around 11 p.m. on the night of June 12th and pronounced dead at the scene.

Drill Sergeant Leader Reginald Turnipseed was Contreras’ instructor.

“People forget that before we’re war fighters, we’re humans. Contreras was a son, he was a father. He was a loving individual. He was a friend. As he came through the academy, I mean he made, as you can see from the turn out, he touched a lot of people while being at the academy,” says Turnipseed.

According to Fort Jackson officials, Contreras’ cause of death is still under investigation.

Jackson says no plans are being made to change the training program.

“We aren’t changing anything sir. Sir, everything we do is by our lesson plans and by our program of instruction. Everything is very detailed and very Dress Right Dress. And what happened out there is unfortunate. Unfortunate. And by all means we’re still investigating what happened out there because I don’t know what caused SFC Contreras to die. I want to know as well,” says Jackson.

Contreras was a father of five children and served in the Army for 12 years, including a deployment to Afghanistan in 2013.

Categories: Local News, Midlands Military Matters, News