Fort Rucker soldier whose body was found Thursday now identified - WBRC FOX6 News - Birmingham, AL

Fort Rucker soldier whose body was found Thursday now identified

Darrell R. McNealy (Source: Fort Rucker) Darrell R. McNealy (Source: Fort Rucker)

Fort Rucker is releasing the name of a soldier whose body was found Thursday after a massive search. Darrell R. McNealy, 40, was going through the Warrant Officer Candidate School (WOCS), when he was found dead Thursday morning.

McNealy had been missing since a routine land navigation training event Wednesday. Authorities say he was working toward becomign an air traffic control and air space manager.

Fort Rucker officials say they're deeply saddened by the loss of McNealy, whom they called an outstanding soldier. "Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family," Fort Rucker said. "A casualty assistance team is currently providing assistance to the family."

McNealy served as a platoon sergeant with 4-58th Airfield Operations Battalion at Camp Humphrey, South Korea, and was training here to become an Air Traffic and Air Space Manager. He held the rank of Sgt. 1st Class before entering WOCS.

After entering the Army in 2001, he served in multiple deployments to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. McNealy previously served at Fort Rucker with B Co., 1-13th Aviation Regiment, 1st Aviation Brigade. 

Officials say the warrant officer candidate started a three-hour land navigation course around 6:45 a.m. Wednesday. When McNealy failed to report at the checkpoint, a search party was formed to find him.

Fort Rucker says the search continued throughout the day Wednesday and included all available assets, include use of OH-58 and Apache helicopters. While the search by air was grounded due to bad weather, officials say a team of soldiers, first responders and EMS personnel continued the search by ground.

At 7 p.m. Wednesday, the Houston County Sheriff's Office brought in blood hounds that searched until 10 p.m. The search continued through the night.

At 6:30 a.m. Thursday, officials added more than 100 more soldiers to the search team. Within a little over an hour, the team found the missing soldier's body.

Fort Rucker officials are investigating the incident. The cause of death is currently unknown pending an autopsy, but foul play is not expected.

The U.S. Army Combat Readiness/Safety Center, a tenant unit at Fort Rucker has deployed a Centralized Accident Investigation team to lead the inquiry into the Soldier's death. 

The CAI team is comprised of experts in safety, maintenance, operations and training. Its mission is to examine the facts and circumstances surrounding the incident and make recommendations to prevent future incidents.

The investigation report will be used within the Department of Defense for incident prevention purposes only.

McNealy leaves behind a wife and children.


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