Military COVID death surge continues, but vaccine rates are also up

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei speaks during a meeting with army's air force and air defense staff in Tehran, Iran, Sunday, Feb. 7, 2021.


Another six troops succumbed to COVID-19 this week, continuing a trend that began in August and has continued into the fall. Where last year, most months saw one or two deaths, since late July, there have been multiple deaths a week.

Now totaling 58, the military’s COVID-19 mortality rate has held steady at 0.02 percent, 50 times what it was for most of 2020. At the same time, facing deadlines for mandatory vaccination, the services are slowly marching toward 100-percent vaccination.

Overall troop vaccine rates have climbed steadily about 2 percent weekly through the summer and into fall, most of those on the active-duty side. As of Wednesday, 72 percent of the total force is at least partially vaccinated, while 95 percent of active-duty troops have at least started the vaccine series.

None of the 58 troops who have died of COVID-19 complications were fully vaccinated, according to Army Maj. Charlie Dietz, a Pentagon spokesman.

The new reports include:

  • Army Reserve Staff Sgt. Clinton Stewart, 44, died Aug. 17. He was assigned to the 206th Regional Support Group in North Carolina.
  • Army National Guard Sgt. Joseph Kurer, 26, died Sept. 22. He was assigned to the 65th Troop Command in Madison, Wisconsin.
  • Army Reserve Sgt. 1st Class David Medina, 59, died Sept. 24. He was assigned to Headquarters Company, 143rd Sustainment Command in Orlando, Florida.
  • An Air Force Reserve master sergeant, 41, died Sept. 25. He was assigned to the 312th Airlift Squadron at Travis Air Force Base, California.
  • Army Col. Charles Rambo, 51, died Sept. 25. He was director of the Army Credentialing and Continuing Education Services for Soldiers at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.
  • An Army Reserve master sergeant, 53, died Sept. 27. He was assigned to the 377th Theater Sustainment Command, which is headquartered New Orleans, Louisiana. His family had not authorized release of his name as of Friday afternoon.

Per policies rolled out by the services at the end of summer, most of the military will be required to be vaccinated by the end of the year. The only outlier is the Army’s reserve component, which has seen the majority of service member COVID-19 deaths. Their deadline is June 30.

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.