BLOOMINGDALE, Mich. — Friends and family remembered a West Michigan soldier killed during a training exercise in New Mexico.
Cpl. Cole Wixom was stationed at Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas, his family said Wednesday. Base officials confirmed that two soldiers died in a crash during a training exercise on the base Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2019.
Wixom should be on his way home to Bloomingdale, Michigan, where his family expects he would get a proper military funeral. They were grieving, and said Wixom was good-natured with a good sense of humor. He grew up playing baseball and showing cattle, goats and swine in 4-H.
Alan Farnquist, the athletic director at Bloomingdale High School, released a written statement about his time with Cole.
"Cole was genuinely excited for others to succeed, and regularly talked about his brothers and their successes as opposed to his own," Farnquist said. "We would talk baseball from time to time, and I remember him telling me that even though he and all of his brothers loved playing, he was most excited to see his youngest brother come up and play, because he was going to be the 'best of us all.'"
Officials at Fort Bliss in El Paso have said little about what caused the crash. KFOX 14 reported the crash happened about 7:30 p.m. Tuesday and involved two Interim Armored Vehicle (IAV) Strykers on U.S. Route 54. Another soldier died in the crash, and seven more were injured.
The IAV Stryker is an eight-wheeled, hybrid, personnel carrier-infantry fighting vehicle used by the U.S. Army.
Cole's parents said he had recently finished a tour in Afghanistan. He was a corporal and recently re-enlisted in the army. We're told he was planning to move to Washington state very soon.
Editor's note: This article was updated to reflect Wixom served in Afghanistan, not Iraq.