Fort Bliss is expanding a search for a young soldier missing for two months.
Pvt. Richard Halliday was last heard from by his parents, Robert and Patricia Halliday of Sarasota, Florida, on July 23. He was reportedly last seen on Fort Bliss on July 24.
“We are really concerned and we pray to God that he is still alive,” his mother said in a YouTube video seeking the public's help to find her son.
The 21-year-old private is with the 32nd Army Air and Missile Defense Command. He was classified by the Army as absent without leave in July but might have left Fort Bliss earlier than previously believed, military officials said Monday.
“It remains uncertain of how or when Pvt. Halliday departed Fort Bliss,” Lt. Col. Allie Payne, spokeswoman for the 1st Armored Division and Fort Bliss, said in a statement.
“His duty status remains AWOL for administrative purposes to allow the continued dedication of proper resources in the search for this young man,” Payne said.
Fort Bliss personnel are conducting an investigation and are “widening and increasing our search” around El Paso, Payne said.
Halliday's family has set up a Facebook page, Find Richard Halliday, and is offering a reward of up to $11,000 for information leading to his whereabouts.
Halliday's parents said their son already had been missing for 36 days when they learned from Fort Bliss that he had disappeared.
Halliday would communicate with his parents about every two weeks. They last spoke on July 23. Weeks passed without hearing from him and his parents began to worry, they explained in the video.
“We hadn’t heard from him. We thought he may have been in the field (training), but we were tired of waiting,” his father said.
On Aug. 28, the Hallidays called their son's battalion in Fort Bliss and learned that he was considered AWOL and, since 30 days had passed, he was considered a deserter, the parents said.
“We were very shocked,” his mother said.
Problems began after return from Qatar
Halliday was a top performer in basic training and had been doing well in the Army, his parents said in the video.
He started having problems in November after returning from Qatar, his mother told Stars and Stripes newspaper.
After he went missing, she learned he had been disciplined for drunken driving. El Paso County Jail records show Halliday was arrested by El Paso police on Jan. 25 on a DWI charge.
On March 28, the private also was disciplined for unintentionally crossing the border into Mexico, his parents posted on Facebook. Fort Bliss does not authorize soldiers to go to Mexico.
It is uncommon, but not unheard of, for newcomers or visitors to El Paso to get lost in traffic and mistakenly cross the border into Juárez.
Halliday's parents are working with U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command and Fort Bliss authorities in the search for their son.
“You can imagine, especially for those of you who have children, that when one’s missing, it makes for a sad day. It makes your heart heavy,” Robert Halliday said in the video.
“I pray to God they’re safe and with all the information we’ve received, we’re considering him missing because there is no other evidence to point otherwise.”
Halliday's disappearance at Fort Bliss comes on the heels of national attention to concerns about safety and well-being in the Army ranks following the killing of Spc. Vanessa Guillen and the deaths of other soldiers at Fort Hood.
Halliday is 5 feet, 10 inches tall, 175 pounds, with brown eyes and brown hair. Anyone with information on him may call Fort Bliss military police at 915-744-1237.
©2020 the El Paso Times (El Paso, Texas). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.