FORT HOOD — More than one year after eight soldiers and a cadet died in a training accident on post, the Army on Friday released its heavily redacted investigation report.
The military transport truck overturned June 2, 2016, in flooded Owl Creek.
All information concerning the cause of the accident or who could be to blame — all findings and recommendations — was blacked out. The report provided a timeline of events, witness statements and information about the vehicle.
A separate investigation conducted by Fort Hood and provided in early 2017 to families of those who died blames the accident on a series of three successive decisions made by Staff Sgt. Miguel Angel Colonvazquez. He was a combat veteran who also died when the Army truck he and the others were in overturned into the creek during a flash flood.
Whether the Army report released Friday concurred with the unit investigation is unclear due to the redactions.
The Herald requested a copy of the unit investigation, known as a 15-6, in August 2016. The only copy received so far was provided by the widow of Colonvazquez, Ngo T. Pham, who was given a copy of the investigation in January and fully disputes the finding that her husband was at fault.
The Army report does say that there were four vehicles in the training exercise, and that Colonvazquez put his vehicle in the lead because he knew the route to the training location. None of the vehicles had communications equipment, such as radios, and the soldiers relied on personal cell phones for communication.
Colonvazquez was the acting platoon sergeant for Distribution Platoon, Forward Support Company, 3rd Battalion, 16th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division. The Army report shows that his platoon leader, whose name was redacted, frequently did not attend training with his troops.
The Army’s official investigation report on the truck crash was redacted in similar fashion to the Army’s report on the Nov. 23, 2015, Black Hawk crash at Fort Hood, in which four soldiers died. In that report the cause of the crash and other information was redacted despite open records requests by the Herald. The separate unit report on the Black Hawk crash, which was also partially redacted, cited the cause as pilot error.