21-year-old soldier’s death last year attributed to COVID-19

First Lt. Kitty Terry, a nurse from the Hawaii Army National Guard's medical detachment, displays a prepared syringe filled with Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine on Oct. 1, 2021, at the Hawaii Army Readiness Center, Kalaeloa, Hawaii. (1st Lt. Anyah Peatross/Army National Guard)


An Army trainee who died last December succumbed to complications of COVID-19, Fort Leonard Wood confirmed Friday.

The death is one of two new reports between Nov. 3 and 10, according to the Defense Department’s most recently posted COVID-19 data.

The soldier’s chain of command had not released his name as of Tuesday afternoon. He died during military police one-station unit training at the Missouri post.

To date, none of the 75 service members whose deaths have been ruled COVID-related were fully vaccinated, Pentagon spokesman Army Maj. Charlie Dietz confirmed Wednesday. Two of them had received the first of a two-dose regimen.

The military’s most recent COVID-19 death is Army Reserve Sgt. Walter Alvarenga, 49, who was hospitalized Oct. 19.

After more than two months during which multiple service members died of COVID-19 a week, Alvarenga’s death represents the lowest new death count since the end of July.

After zero deaths in June, a surge in cases around much of the country also hit the military, launching weekly new cases into the thousands.

Through the majority of the pandemic, the military reported one or two deaths per month ― despite winter surges in the rest of the country. However, late summer and early fall saw the military’s death toll more than double.

At the end of July, 29 troops had died since March 2020. As of Wednesday, 75 have died, out of more than 250,000 cases and 2,272 hospitalizations overall.

The drop in deaths and new cases reflects a nationwide dip in COVID-19 spread, while vaccine mandates have rolled out across the Defense Department.

The active-duty Air Force and Space Force had to be vaccinated by Nov. 2. The next deadline is for the active-duty Navy and Marine Corps, followed by Dec. 15 for the active-duty Army.

The reserve components will follow, with Dec. 2 for the Air Force and Space Force, Dec. 28 for the Navy and Marine Corps reserves, then June 30 for the Army Reserve and National Guard.

As of Wednesday, over 1.5 million troops have been fully vaccinated, representing 66 percent of the total force. Another 318,000 are partially vaccinated.

Meghann Myers is the Pentagon bureau chief at Military Times. She covers operations, policy, personnel, leadership and other issues affecting service members. Follow on Twitter @Meghann_MT



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Tony Beasley
Tony Beasley writes for the Local News, US and the World Section of ANH.