A junior enlisted soldier assigned to Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, died following an on-duty accident Monday, according to an Army Alaska release.
Spc. Karolina Ferrer-Padilla was a 20-year-old fueler assigned to the 6th Brigade Engineer Battalion, part of the 25th Infantry Division’s 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team. She joined the service in September 2019, the release said.
Ferrer-Padilla graduated Airborne School at Fort Benning, Georgia, in mid-2020 before reporting to Alaska — her first duty station — in August of that year. In addition to her jump wings, Ferrer-Padilla had also earned an Army Achievement Medal during her short career.
The Santa Isabel, Puerto Rico native was remembered by her commander, Lt. Col. Justin Pritchard, as “a dedicated professional, loving wife, and faithful friend.”
“An aspiring leader, she brought joy and inspiration to all her fellow paratroopers,” Pritchard said in the release. “The Oak Battalion and Spartan Brigade grieve alongside her family and friends, and offer our sincere condolences.”
Army Alaska officials declined to release additional information about the accident that led to Ferrer-Padilla’s death, citing ongoing investigations from the Army’s Criminal Investigation Division and the service’s safety-minded Combat Readiness Center.
Ferrer-Padilla is one of several troops in Alaska to die unexpectedly in recent months, but her death is one of the first known on-duty accidental fatalities this fiscal year. Pfc. Patrick Hernandez of the 16th Military Police Brigade died in a Humvee crash on Fort Bragg, North Carolina, in October.
Fiscal 2021 saw a record-low number of on-duty accidental deaths — 20 — across the Army.
The Combat Readiness Center director and the Army’s top safety officer, Brig. Gen. Andrew C. Hilmes, said in October that even “one Soldier lost to a preventable mishap is one too many.”
Davis Winkie is a senior reporter covering the Army, specializing in accountability reporting, personnel issues and military justice. He joined Military Times in 2020. Davis studied history at Vanderbilt University and UNC-Chapel Hill, writing a master's thesis about how the Cold War-era Defense Department influenced Hollywood's WWII movies.