US Army identifies Florida soldier killed in Alaska bear attack
ANCHORAGE, Alaska - The U.S. Army on Thursday identified the soldier who died this week of injuries sustained during a bear attack in a military training area in Alaska.
The Army in a statement said Staff Sgt. Seth Michael Plant, 30, was pronounced dead at a hospital in Anchorage following the mauling Tuesday.
Plant was from Saint Augustine, Florida, and had been at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson since July 2021, the Army said in a statement. He was an infantryman from the 3rd Battalion, 509th Parachute Infantry Regiment.
Military officials said Plant joined the Army in 2015 after a stint in the reserves, and had served at Fort Benning, Georgia, and Fort Bragg, North Carolina prior to coming to Alaska.
Lt. Col. David J. Nelson, 3rd Battalion, 509th Parachute Infantry Regiment commander, said Plant "always had a smile on his face, he always went above and beyond what was asked of him, and he served as an inspiration to all who had the privilege to know him."
RELATED: US Army soldier dies after bear attack injuries in Alaska
Plant was a highly decorated soldier, with awards including the Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Non-Commissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon, NATO Service Ribbon, Combat Infantryman’s Badge, and the Parachutist Badge.
"Staff Sgt. Plant was an integral part of our organization. He was a positive and dedicated leader who brought joy and energy to the paratroopers who served with him," Nelson said. "His loss is deeply felt within our organization and we offer our sincere condolences to friends and family."
The Army says the mauling is being investigated. Another soldier received minor injuries in the attack in a training area west of the Anchorage landfill, according to the Army.
The Alaska Department of Fish and Game said a den with two brown bear cubs was found nearby. The department, in a statement, said after the attack, a brown bear approached the area and officials who responded to the attack used bear spray, an irritant that can deter bears. The bear left, the statement said.
Hair collected during an initial investigation into the attack was consistent with a brown bear, the department said.
The bear attacked in a remote section of the military base, the department said. Cyndi Wardlow, a regional supervisor with the department, said information gathered so far suggests this was a "defensive attack by a female bear protecting her cubs."
READ: World War I Navy hero may be awarded Medal of Honor 52 years after death
"We are trying to learn everything we can about what happened to increase public safety around wildlife in Alaska," she said in the statement.
The department said it can kill bears that are considered public safety threats or that are involved in deadly attacks. It said that game cameras the department placed during its investigation indicated that an adult bear had returned to the area and left the den site with the cubs.
The location of the bear that was involved in the Tuesday attack was unknown, the department said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.