A Missouri National Guard soldier died Monday while serving in a humanitarian mission in Guatemala.
According to initial reports, 34-year-old Staff Sergeant Robert Traxel of Union was struck in the head by a tree limb that was blown down by a helicopter during a training exercise.
Traxel was a public affairs broadcast specialist with the 70th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment based in Jefferson City. He joined the Guard on April 19 after serving for more than seven years in the Army and Marines. He was conducting annual training and reporting on the Guard’s role in Beyond the Horizon Guatemala 2012, as part of the U.S. Army South’s continuing mission in Central America.
Traxel served in Afghanistan in 2008 and in Iraq in 2011 and had received numerous decorations. Those included the Army Achievement Medal, second award, Meritorious Unit Commendation, Army Good Conduct Medal, Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal w/ two campaign stars, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal with Campaign Star, Army Service Ribbon and the Navy Sea Service Deployment Ribbon.
Traxel was a married father of four and formerly worked as a Florissant police officer.
In a statement Governor Jay Nixon said, “The family, friends and colleagues of Staff Sgt. Traxel are in our prayers, as we remember this brave Citizen-Soldier who served not only in the Guard, but also during deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan as both an active duty Soldier and Marine. He answered the call of duty many times, and our state and nation are grateful.”
Traxel filed his final report from Guatemala on June 29. It can be seen on the Defense Video & Imagery Distribution System website.