A soldier who survived tours in Iraq and Afghanistan and earned a Bronze Star Medal for his service drowned near Fort Hood on Monday the 13th.
31 year old Sgt. 1st Class Robert Lee Jones Jr. was trying to put his boat on the trailer at Union Grove Park on Stillhouse Hollow Lake when the boat drifted away, and he jumped in to grab the bow line. He came back to the surface, yelled for helped, and went under again.
The Killeen Daily Herald reported that several agencies, including Texas Parks & Wildlife rangers and deputies with the Bell County Sheriff’s Department, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Morgan’s Point Resort Dive Team were called to the scene Monday afternoon.
Sgt. T.J. Cruz of the Bell County Sheriff’s Department said the group worked until dark on Monday to find Jones, but his body was not recovered until Tuesday around noon.
Jones was a 12-year veteran soldier with an impressive career that included two tours in Iraq and two in Afghanistan. His home of record is listed as Anderson, South Carolina. He joined the Army in 2003 and was trained as a Patriot Launching Station Enhanced Operator/Maintainer.
Jones deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom from November 2003 to February 2004 and from May 2005 to April 2006. He also deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom from December 2007 to March 2009 and from November 2012 to June 2013.
Between his assignments, he graduated from a host of Army schools including Airborne, Air Assault, and Drill Sergeant School. He was transferred to Fort Hood last year and was assigned to III Corps Noncommissioned Officers Academy.
A III Corps news release from Fort Hood obtained by Breitbart Texas lists Jones’ awards and decorations, and it’s pretty impressive. The awards include the Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medals, five Army Commendation Medals, two Army Achievement Medals, four Army Good Conduct Medals, National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal with two campaign stars, Iraq Campaign Medal with two campaign stars, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, three Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbons, Army Service Ribbon, three Overseas Service Ribbons, NATO Medal, Drill Sergeant Identification Badge, Combat Action Badge, Parachutist Badge, Air Assault Badge, Driver and Mechanic Badge and Marksmanship Qualification Badge Expert with Rifle.
The Fort Hood news release did not provide any information about Jones’ family or funeral plans.
Jones is at least the fifth Fort Hood Soldier to drown in the last decade. An internet search reveals that in July of 2013, a trooper drowned in Stillhouse Hollow Lake, that same week another soldier died in Lake Waco and other incidents in July 2007 in the Guadalupe River above New Braunfels and a soldier from the Louisiana National Guard drowned in Lake Belton while attending annual training at Fort Hood in 2004.
Rob Milford is a news contributor for Breitbart Texas. Follow him on Facebook.