US Army investigates 3 deaths including Tongan soldier

The US Army's 10th Mountain Division at Fort Drum, New York, is reeling from the suspected deaths by suicide of three troops in a 48-hour period.

One of the soldiers is Spc. Sika Tapueluelu, a 26-year-old cannon crewmember from Tukwila, Washington according to

Tapueluelu was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 15th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, it said.

10th Mountain is still investigating the deaths, but spokesman Lt. Col. Josh Jacques said all three are believed to have been caused by self-harm and unconnected to one another.

Family members, the Tongan and army communities in Tukwila, held the funeral for Tapueluelu over the weekend according to Kaniva News.

“The three deaths in rapid succession underscore the difficulty the military has had trying to reduce the rates and risk of suicide among service members and veterans. Earlier this year, a Brown University study found that more than four times as many troops and veterans who had served in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan had died by suicide as were directly killed in the conflicts”.

Tapueluelu’s devastated family, friends and kāinga released video clips of his burial services showing his casket being carried in a horse-drawn wagon while a platoon of soldiers marched behind it.


Photo source Kaniva News