Alaska News

Alaska-based master sergeant is fifth soldier to die in the state since November

An Army master sergeant was found dead last week in his off-post home near Fairbanks, the fifth soldier to die in the state in less than two months, the Army said Friday.

Master Sgt. Wesley Woods, 40, assigned to 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, at Fort Wainwright, was declared dead at his home in North Pole on Dec. 30 after emergency responders worked 35 minutes at resuscitating him, the Army said in a news release.

The cause of death is under investigation by the Alaska State Troopers and the Army Criminal Investigation Division. No further details were provided by the Army.

The death follows a spate of others, most recently that of Spc. Hunter Trey Stafford, 21, who died Dec. 8 in his off-post home in Fairbanks.

On Nov. 28, Sgt. Miles Jordan Tarron, 30, was discovered dead in his vehicle in Anchorage. Spc. Isaiah Nicholas Oneal, 22, was found dead in his vehicle in Fairbanks on Nov. 26. Sgt. Christian Joseph D’Andrea, 22, was found dead in his off-post home in Fairbanks on Nov. 12.

Woods, a native of Horn Lake, Miss., joined the Army in July 2001, the Army said.

His previous assignments were at Fort Irwin, California; Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington; Fort Benning, Georgia; and Fort Riley, Kansas. He was assigned to Wainwright for the first time in 2003 and began his current assignment there in June 2018.


He served combat tours in Djibouti from March 2006 to April 2007 and Iraq from August 2009 to August 2010, the Army said.

“We are deeply saddened by the loss of Master Sgt. Woods,” Lt. Col. Matthew Chase, commander of the 70th Brigade Engineer Battalion, said in the release. “He was a dedicated, servant leader who made a tremendous impact during his time in the Arctic Wolf Brigade and through his career in the Army. Our heartfelt sympathies go out to his family and all those that cared for him at this time.”

Among his awards and decorations were two awards of the Meritorious Service Medal, four awards of the Army Commendation Medal, the Joint Service Achievement Medal, seven awards of the Army Achievement Medal, six awards of the Army Good Conduct Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Iraq Campaign Medal, the Global War on Terror Expeditionary Medal, the Global War on Terror Service Medal, the Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal, the Army Service Ribbon, the Drill Sergeant Identification Badge, the Expert Infantry Badge and the Parachutist Badge.

A funeral service with full military honors was scheduled for Monday at Fairbanks Funeral Home.