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'He was our brother' — Soldiers honor Army PFC who died during basic training
A 19-year-old Army private who died during basic training earlier this month was posthumously promoted to private first class, just before friends and family gathered for a memorial service to honor his life on Jan. 16.
Pfc. Connor James McGurran was found unresponsive on the morning of Jan. 8. According to a Fort Jackson press release, McGurran had completed eight weeks of basic training, and was in the middle of his final training exercise, The Forge, which "tests each trainee on the skills and knowledge they have attained throughout BCT."
He was transported from the field to a nearby hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
"He was a good teammate and battle buddy," Lt. Col. Michael Penny, battalion commander of 3rd Battalion, 39th Infantry Regiment said in the press release. "The day he passed ... his closest friends in the company asked if they could continue to carry Pfc. McGurran's rifle till the end to honor their friend."
Pvt. Trentarius May and Pfc. Luis Martinez render a final salute to their battle buddy Pfc. Connor James McGurran. Fort Jackson Public Affairs
McGurran's battle buddy, Pvt. Trentarius May, spoke during the ceremony, which was attended by McGurran's fellow soldiers, Fort Jackson leadership, and family. May directly addressing McGurran's father — Navy Cmdr, Shawn McGurran, who was sitting in the front row in his dress Navy uniform which "stood out distinctly among the sea of Army combat uniforms," per the release.
"McGurran was an amazing person, perfect with all of his flaws. He was honest and seemed like everything he did came from the heart," May told Cmdr. McGurran. "He made you feel like you meant something.
"Sir, I want to let you know that you are not going through this alone. The ones you love never truly die."
The memorial ceremony came to a close with the traditional "Last Roll Call," a playing of Taps, and a 21-gun salute.
"Your soldier wasn't just a soldier," May told McGurran's father. "He was our brother."
Though the Army has yet to actually set an official recruiting goal for this year, leaders are confident they're going to bring in more soldiers than last year.
Maj. Gen. Frank Muth, head of Army Recruiting Command, told reporters on Wednesday that the Army was currently 2,226 contracts ahead of where it was in 2019.
"I will just tell you that this time last year we were in the red, and now we're in the green which is — the momentum's there and we see it continuing throughout the end of the year," Muth said, adding that the service hit recruiting numbers in February that haven't been hit during that month since 2014.
KABUL/WASHINGTON/PESHAWAR, Pakistan (Reuters) - The United States and the Taliban will sign an agreement on Feb. 29 at the end of a week long period of violence reduction in Afghanistan, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the Taliban said on Friday.
Active-duty service members, Reservists and National Guard members often serve side-by-side performing highly skilled and dangerous jobs, such as parachuting, explosives demolition and flight deck operations.
Reservists and Guard members are required to undergo the same training as specialized active-duty troops, and they face the same risks. Yet the extra incentive pay they receive for their work — called hazardous duty incentive pay — is merely a fraction of what their active-duty counterparts receive for performing the same job.
A bipartisan group of lawmakers, led by U.S. Rep. Andy Kim, D-3 of Moorestown, are partnering on legislation to correct the inequity. Known as the Guard and Reserve Hazard Duty Pay Equity Act, the bill seeks to standardize payment of hazardous duty incentive pay for all members of the armed services, including Reserve and National Guard components.
Another Marine was hit with jail time and a bad-conduct discharge in connection with a slew of arrests made last summer over suspicions that members of a California-based infantry battalion were transporting people who'd crossed into the U.S. illegally.
Some Fort Bragg paratroopers who left for the Middle East on a no-notice deployment last month came home Thursday.
About 3,500 soldiers with the 82nd Airborne Division's 1st Brigade Combat Team were sent to Kuwait beginning Jan. 1 as tensions were rising in the region. The first soldiers were in the air within 18 hours of being told to go.