A soldier with the 1st Cavalry Division was killed March 10 following an accident at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, California.

Spc. Joseph M. Meitl Jr. was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment, 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, at the time of his death. He was 23 years old.

Meitl, who served as an armored cannon crewmember, was participating in an M109A7 calibration firing event when he was struck by a recoiling breech after the system was fired as part of the exercise, according to a preliminary Army incident report. He suffered a severe head injury and was immediately aided by medics.

While being transported to the hospital, Meitl stopped breathing, and all attempts to resuscitate him failed, the report stated. He was pronounced dead shortly after.

“Specialist Joseph Meitl Jr. was a valuable member of our Steel Dragon team. We are deeply saddened by the loss of an incredible Trooper and teammate,” Lt. Col. Christopher Carpenter, a battalion commander with the 82nd Field Artillery Regiment said in a press release.

“We extend our deepest sympathies to his spouse, family, and friends. Our thoughts and prayers are with them in this time of mourning and reflection.”

His awards included an Army Achievement Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, and the Army Service Ribbon.

The Army has lost an average of three soldiers a year since 2017 to on-duty weapons or explosives mishaps, with the last fatality occurring in 2019, according to the preliminary report.

Rachel is a Marine Corps veteran, Penn State alumna and Master's candidate at New York University for Business and Economic Reporting.

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