A young enlisted National Guard soldier died when the military truck she was driving hit another in October, according to new details released Monday by the military.
On October 22 at Fort Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania, four soldiers drove two M1120 Load Handling System vehicles down a tank track to pick up waste ammunition packaging from a firing range. The rear truck struck the lead vehicle. The first truck’s rack crushed the driver’s side of the second vehicle’s cab.
SPC. Mackenzie Shay, 20, was driving this second vehicle. She was unconscious and pronounced dead at the scene. The other three soldiers were assessed and discharged from hospital. Shay enlisted in the National Guard at age 17 and served with Company G, 128th Brigade Support Battalion, 28th Infantry Division as a petroleum supply specialist.
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The news comes as the military continues to battle tactical vehicle deaths within its ranks. Brig. Gen. Andrew Hilmes, who was the Army’s director of security at the time, told Military.com last year that road accidents are the “number one killer of soldiers”.
Army leaders have blamed some of the blame on units neglecting security when new commanders take over, with proper precautions sometimes falling through the cracks during hectic transitions. Other issues Army officials have noted include a sharp drop in the number of young soldiers with previous driving experience and driver’s licenses.
The service has seen a decline in non-combat fatalities, which include training accidents and vehicle incidents, with 14 in-service fatalities in fiscal year 2022, which ended September 30, from 20 soldiers who died the previous year.
Those on-duty fatalities include four vehicular incidents, one lightning strike, two falling trees and one bear attack, according to data from the US Army Combat Readiness Center.
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family, friends and colleagues of Specialist Mackenzie Shay after this tragic accident,” Maj. Gen. Mark Schindler, Adjutant General of the Pennsylvania National Guard, said in a statement. “Our priority right now is to take care of the family and the soldiers, making sure they have all the resources they need during this critical time.”
— Steve Beynon can be reached at Steve.Beynon@military.com. Follow him on Twitter @StevenBeynon.
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