Tyler Thomas, Angel Green and Sika Tapueluelu: 3 soldiers die by suicide at Fort Drum
The three soldier deaths at Fort Drum were induced by unrelated 'self-harm incidents'
Three young soldiers at the Fort Drum army base in New York have shockingly died by suicide within 48 hours of each other. Private First Class Tyler Thomas, 21, Specialist Sika Tapueluelu, 26, and Staff Sergeant Angel Green, 24, all died tragically between September 16 and September 17, 2021. Among them, Staff Sgt Green was among the last troop of US soldiers who left Afghanistan following the Taliban invasion in August 2021. He was an infantryman assigned to the 4th Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment (The Polar Bears), 2nd Brigade Combat Team, and 10th Mountain Division.
The mysterious deaths were officially confirmed by New York Fort Drum authorities via a spokesperson on September 19, 2021. Lt. Col. Josh Jacques asserted that the three deaths were induced by unrelated "self-harm incidents". "What are the underlying challenges that contributed to the decision to harm themselves? We want to know what didn't we catch? What are we missing? This is what our immediate focus is. Immediately when we have a situation when a soldier is suspected of taking their own life, we want to know the trigger," Lt. Col. Jacques stated. Presently, the respective unit leaders of the soldiers are probing each death individually.
According to his obituary on Dignity Memorial, Staff Sgt. Angel Gerardo Green hailed from Barstow, California, and was the son of Gerald Green and Susan Barrera. The 1996-born sergeant joined the Army in May 2015 and was deployed to Afghanistan twice and once to Qatar. He was married for five years to Sandra Green.
His family members remembered him in a heartwrenching obituary, where they shared, "Angel was happiest lost in the middle of the woods with a can of PBR in his right hand and Tyler Childers playing in the background. He was also a craft-man who would take on woodworking projects and build furniture around his home and for his friends as a hobby. Angel leaves behind a trail of beautiful memories that we will always cherish and each hold in our hearts. Everyone he knew and met had their own special and unique relationship with him, and he always knew how to make those he cared about feel special, loved, and protected. You never had to worry about anything as long as he was around. The void in our lives will never be filled. He was an amazing and inspirational person to all. He will be deeply missed by his family, friends and all who knew him."
Private First Class Tyler Thomas was a signal support system specialist from Cedar Hill, Texas. His death was mourned by Sueann Queen-Critzer, the mother of a fellow trooper. "Out of all the news postings that I have seen this one broke me down this morning. As a military mom/ parent I now the feeling I got getting these kind of pictures from Tyler during his deployment. It gives you a smile it relaxes your nerves at that very moment you can function in life. His mom was probably on a military moms high to be short lived by that very dreaded knock or phone call. RIP Thank you for your service," Queen-Critzer posted on Facebook.
Specialist Tapueluelu was a cannon crewmember hailing from Tukwila, Washington, who belonged to a Tongan-American family. His tragic death was grieved by family friend Nai Tagidugu, who wrote, "I couldn't believe what I saw this morning...I asked alot of friends to interpret the Tongan language that was written on your page...I just wasn't too sure.. Toa Tapueluelu and Alifeleti Tapueluelu I am deeply sorry for the loss of your son.Last time he talked to me was wen he told me he had joined the USA Army...I am deeply sorry for your loss Rest in love Sika Tapueluelu...May our good Lord grant peace on your beloved family."
The causes and pattern of any of the deaths were not revealed by Fort Drum authorities though they have stated that the deaths seem to be unrelated. In fact, they insisted that Sgt. Green's tragic suicide was not related to his last stint in Afghanistan and the horrors of the Taliban invasion witnessed by him.