Editor’s note: The headline for this article was updated at 11:31 a.m. EDT on Oct. 25, 2023, to note that the cause of death remains under investigation.

After a tragic accident during a ruck march, an Army recruit died at a military hospital just two days before he was set to graduate from basic training at Fort Moore, Georgia.

Jacob Atchison, of Pella, Iowa, whose obituary described him as “incredibly proud of his service,” died in the early morning hours of July 12. The aspiring infantryman was 19 years old.

“The investigation into the death of Pfc. Jacob T. Atchison is ongoing, and cause has not yet been determined,” a Fort Moore spokesperson told Army Times. “The Army’s deliberate investigation process identifies factors that contribute to accidents in order to preserve readiness and help prevent further loss. We mourn Pfc. Atchison’s passing along with his family, fellow soldiers, and on behalf of a grateful nation.”

According to an Army accident report, the tragedy occurred when Atchison and his peers from D Company, 3rd Battalion, 47th Infantry were on a five-mile ruck march near the end of their culminating “Forge” field exercise.

The soldiers were moving between Hooper Range and another location on post when Atchison “fell onto the pavement,” the report said. Company leadership called paramedics and drill sergeants administered combat lifesaver procedures, according to the report and a previous statement by Fort Moore officials. The paramedics quickly reached Atchison, who was pronounced dead shortly after arriving at Martin Army Community Hospital.

“Those who volunteer to defend the nation represent the very best of us,” 1st Lt. Kyle J. Whittaker, Atchison’s company commander, said in a statement accompanying a Fort Moore release. “The loss of Jacob will be keenly felt by his teammates and the Army, now and in the future.”

Atchison left for Fort Moore on May 1, according to his obituary. While in basic training, he earned top shot for his company and received the expert marksmanship badge.

Graduating from Pella Community High School, Atchison was an honor roll student and enjoyed history courses, according to his obituary. He was “a self-professed mama’s boy,” survived by his mother, father and sister.

“We are all deeply saddened by the loss of this outstanding Soldier and send our heartfelt condolences to his family,” Lt. Col. Josh Horner, commander of 3rd Battalion, 47th Infantry Regiment, said in a statement. “They are in our thoughts and prayers.”

Zamone “Z” Perez is a reporter at Military Times. He previously worked at Foreign Policy and Ufahamu Africa. He is a graduate of Northwestern University, where he researched international ethics and atrocity prevention in his thesis. He can be found on Twitter @zamoneperez.

Davis Winkie covers the Army for Military Times. He studied history at Vanderbilt and UNC-Chapel Hill, and served five years in the Army Guard. His investigations earned the Society of Professional Journalists' 2023 Sunshine Award and consecutive Military Reporters and Editors honors, among others. Davis was also a 2022 Livingston Awards finalist.

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