New Bedford Soldier Killed in Military Training Exercise
A soldier from New Bedford died Monday during a military training exercise at Fort Irwin, California.
Pfc. Justin Candido Kirby, 21, was killed in a vehicle accident at the National Training Center, the U.S. Army announced. The accident took place on the unit’s third training day and involved a Humvee performing combat maneuvers. Kirby was assigned to the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment garrisoned at Fort Irwin.
“Pfc. Kirby was well known across the regiment and his passing has deeply affected us all,” said regiment commander Col. Scott Woodward. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and his fellow Soldiers.”
New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell ordered flags at city buildings flown at half staff and said he extends his heartfelt sympathy to Kirby's family.
"Justin’s service to our nation reflected his deep commitment to a cause larger than himself and the values of his family of public servants," Mitchell said in a statement. "It is my hope that the gratitude and reverence of our City for Justin’s dedication and patriotism may bring some measure of comfort to Justin’s family as they mourn his sudden loss."
Justin and his twin brother were graduates of the Global Learning Public Charter School in New Bedford. Kirby’s father Robert Kirby is a New Bedford firefighter and his brother, Jason Kirby, works as an EMT for New Bedford EMS. Justin also graduated from Bristol Community College in 2018.
Army officials did not release details about the accident that took Kirby's life. Another soldier was injured in the incident and flown to University Medical Center of Southern Nevada where he was treated and released.
The incident comes one week after Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville advised Congress that he is concerned about the rise in training accidents and deaths, according to the Army Times. In fiscal 2019, the Army suffered a total of 55 Class A mishaps and 61 Class B mishaps, 28 soldier casualties and $362 million in damaged or lost equipment not related to losses in combat.
“I’m very concerned about some of the training exercises we had where ... we lost some soldiers very tragically,” McConville said.