The two soldiers killed in a chaotic four-vehicle crash Friday evening on the Glenn Highway were paratroopers who both came to Alaska in 2019.
The U.S. Army Alaska on Tuesday identified the soldiers as Wyne Lyndon Jacob Abonita, 22, of Yokosuka, Japan and Valsin David Tate Jr., 23, of New Orleans.
Four other people were injured in the crash, including two additional soldiers, authorities said.
Abonita and Tate died at the scene.
The men were traveling southbound on the highway in a Mitsubishi Galant when their car and a nearby Dodge Challenger both lost control between Muldoon and Turpin roads, Anchorage police said in a statement. The Challenger hit a tree off the side of the highway, sending two people to the hospital.
The Galant struck a Toyota Tundra and both vehicles crossed into oncoming traffic and rolled before the Galant collided with a Chevrolet Silverado, causing both vehicles to catch fire, police said. Two people in the Tundra were injured. The Silverado’s driver was not hurt.
The crash closed the Glenn Highway in both directions for several hours.
An Anchorage police spokeswoman did not answer questions this week about the circumstances surrounding the crash or what caused both vehicles to lose control at the same time. A spokesman for the Army referred all questions about the investigation to the police.
There was light rain in the area at the time of the collision, according to the National Weather Service.
Army officials last week said two soldiers were injured in the crash, but police would not identify which vehicle those soldiers were in during the crash.
One of the injured soldiers was released from the hospital by Saturday, Army officials said over the weekend. The status of the other soldier wasn’t immediately available.
Abonita and Tate were fire control specialists assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 377th Parachute Field Artillery Regiment, the Army said Tuesday.
Abonita joined the Army in March 2019 and trained in South Carolina, Oklahoma and Georgia before moving to Alaska in September of that year, officials said.
Tate joined the Army in October 2018 and trained in the same locations as Abonita before moving to Alaska in April 2019.
Both men received the National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon and Parachutist Badge. Abonita was also awarded the Army Good Conduct Medal.
“This was a tragic situation, and the entire battalion is mourning the loss of two of our paratroopers,” Lt. Col. Dustin Blair, regiment commander, said in a statement, adding paratroopers are receiving support through behavioral health assets including the Unit Ministry Team and Military Family Life Counselor.
An Anchorage police investigation into the crash continues.