FORT HOOD, Texas - Fort Hood officials released the following condolence statement Jan. 24 for the loss of a 69th Air Defense Artillery Brigade Soldier, Sgt. Kelton Sphaler, who died in an apparent boating incident Jan. 21 on Belton Lake, Belton, Texas. The incident involved another Soldier who survived and a veteran who is still listed as missing.
The three individuals were apparently in motorized canoes that overturned at approximately 3 p.m. Jan. 21 while out on the lake.
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has led the search and rescue that located two of the three missing boaters from the incident on Lake Belton. They were assisted by several local, state and federal agencies including Fort Hood emergency services and aviation units and are continuing to search for the third boater involved in the incident.
“Our deepest sympathies are with Sergeant Kelton Sphaler’s family during this tragedy as they mourn his life,” said Col. Curt King, commander, 69th Air Defense Artillery Brigade. “The 69th Air Defense Artillery Brigade, including many of Kelton’s friends, will remember his patriotic service to America including several overseas deployments; he will be missed. Sergeant Sphaler was an outstanding Soldier and he was well-known by many Air Defenders across our Army. We have chaplains and counselors available to comfort Soldiers as they remember Kelton’s positive impact on their lives.”
Sphaler, 25, whose home of record is listed as Cross City, Florida, entered active-duty military service in December 2013 as a Patriot fire control enhanced operator/maintainer and was assigned to 4th Battalion, 5th Air Defense Artillery Regiment, 69th Air Defense Artillery Brigade, Fort Hood, since January.
Sphaler deployed to Bahrain in support of Operation Enduring Freedom from September 2015 to June 2016.
Sphaler’s awards and decorations include a Meritorious Service Medal, four Army Achievement Medals, one Army Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal, Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon, Air Assault Badge, Driver and Mechanic Badge and Marine Qualification Badge Expert Rifle.
Circumstances surrounding this incident remain under investigation by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.