Local soldiers kept from families as search continues for 'sensitive item'

1-14 Infantry Batallion (Facebook)
1-14 Infantry Batallion (Facebook)
1-14 Infantry Batallion (Facebook)
1-14 Infantry Batallion (Facebook)

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Soldiers with the Army's 1st Battalion, 14th Infantry, 2nd Brigade at Schofield Barracks are on lockdown until they locate a "sensitive item" that was found missing this week at the end of a training exercise.

The Chief of Public Affairs for the 25th Infantry Division, Lt. Colonel Derrick Cheng, said it was "a serial numbered piece of equipment with no immediate security risk."  He added that an investigation is underway to account for the item's disappearance, whether it's an accidental loss or intentionally taken.

Furthermore, "sensitive items," say military sources, don't always mean that they are of high value intelligence, but rather often include items such as weapons and gear like night-vision goggles, binoculars, scopes and other equipment marked with serial numbers used to track items the issued to soldiers or checked out of the armory.

Sources add that all military branches are held accountable for special gear and items, and this search effort and lockdown is not an unique situation, especially for infantry units who carry alot of gear and utilize a lot of equipment during training and while on deployments.

Some wives of the soldiers took to the "Golden Dragons" Facebook page to voice their concerns about their loved ones being kept in the field longer in order to search for the missing item.

Charleen Alanna Black wrote on the unit's page, "I'm 40 weeks pregnant and I'd very much like him home. Hopefully this issue gets resolved soon."

Monique Hamilton wrote, "It's sad when a piece of equipment means more than serious issues such as the safety and welfare of families!

But others like Brendan Kitchens wrote, "Sounds like the battalion is doing the right thing. All hands on deck."

Cheng said the unit is aware of the families concerns regarding tomorrow's Valentine's Day and upcoming President's Day on Monday and thanked the families for their patience, but noted Army protocol and accountability efforts need to be met.

Battalion Commander, Lt. Colonel Ike Sallee alerted families Wednesday morning posting, "Unfortunately, we've lost a sensitive item -- this is very serious and requires a full accountability of all our Battalion, a thorough investigation, search, and review of our accountability procedures. We will remain here until the sensitive item is found."

LTC Sallee commended the unit's efforts during their recent 12 days of training and also asked for the families patience as they conduct their standard procedures to find the item.

According to Cheng, all Army commands are held accountable for basic issued items, issued field gear, even maintenance equipment used to maintain military vehicles.

"This is a standard procedure to account for important items that turn up missing," said Cheng.

LTC Sallee posted to "Golden Dragon" families that the soldiers had searched 80% of their search area, "literally clearing elephant grass and walking/crawling through the search area" and they've "questioned most of those who handled the item" and also put together a "timeline of when the item was last seen until the time we actually realized it was missing."

He updated them last night posting, "We have one more group of people to interview and another 20% of the search area to complete. From there, we will assess all facts and ensure we've met the full requirements of an Army unit when something like this occurs," said LTC Sallee.

If the item is not located, say officials, the command will issue an official report to document their efforts to find it and the loss.

In the meantime, the soldiers of 1-14 Infantry Battalion will continue their search, said Cheng, and hopefully the issue will be resolved soon.

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