Fort Bliss soldier’s remains found near a coal plant in a coal chute

Lee Ward

The body of a missing Army soldier from Fort Bliss in Texas has been found after six month, reports the Army Times.

Pvt. Devon Lee Ward, 21, went missing on May 25.  On June 27, a body was found at a coal plant near Cochise, Arizona in a coal chute.  Partially decomposed and skeletal remains were found in one of three coal rotary plows (machinery that moves coal) at the Apache Generating Station, reports KXAN.  The discovery was made when workers noticed the rotary plow was malfunctioning, reports the Douglas Dispatch.  They also reported that that the body may have been in a coal train car prior to the coal being dumped into the coal chute at the power plant.

Video shows train car with coal and then being dumped into a coal chute.

The Pima County Medical Examiner’s Office used fingerprints to identify the body as belonging to Ward.

Did Devon leave the base early and try to make it back to his hometown in California on his own, and if so how did he end up in the coal chute.  It was reported that a note was left in the barracks in his room that he wrote saying he was leaving, and was gone by his duty time at 6 a.m.  No determination has come from the police at this time.

devonwardposter

According to the post on Devon’s GoFundMe account there is a lot more to Devon’s story.  He was born with Asperger’s Syndrome.  Although he had struggles, he graduated from high school and was accepted into the U.S. Army:

“After graduating bootcamp he receives his first post a few states away at Fort Bliss, TX. Where he meets brutal hazing and bullying not only by his rank equals, but his superior officers as well. He also worries constantly about his mother back home because he knows she’s not in good health. All of this becomes too much and he becomes severely depressed to the point of hospitalization. He’s evaluated and released back to active duty to await his Honorable Medical Discharge orders, and he’s happy with that. Then a month and a half later he receives word that he will be home in less than one month, he is happy & making plans for once he’s home, he even has a lead on a great job doing the kind of work he wanted to do …..Two days later between the early morning hours of 3 & 6 am he disappears without a trace. Can you begin to imagine the pain & fear? The worry & stress? Now also imagine that the Army only looks for him for 24 hours and they stonewall you about making a report to civilian law enforcement for nearly two weeks! But then when you take matters into your own hands & call the nearest police department, they refuse to make a missing persons report unless you come in person to file it…you & your spouse survive on SSI. Your resources are just not there nor is your health up to making that trip, and even after explaining this to the El Paso Police Department, you are still given the same response. This is the chain of events that has happened to Dean & Maureen Ward.

Posted on the Finding Private Ward Facebook page:

“Finally I get to write the words I have been hoping and praying to write: Private Second Class Devon Ward Has Been Found……Dear god, I suppose I should have specified my desires better….Devon was not found, and truth is he never will be, however the mortal vessel that the young man we knew inhabited has been found. So I write those words not with the sheer joy and happy tears I had hoped and envisioned, but with a shattered heart the remaining pieces of which are unbelievably heavy.  The Facts ((And there are few of them at this point)): An unidentified body was found on or around June 26, 2016 in or near Cochise, AZ. Only recently were the remains identified via fingerprints as those of Private Second Class Devon Ward. Cause and manner of death are unknown at this time. That is all we know presently, and I would ask respectfully that the rumor mill of our lovely desert community stick with the facts please. Let us not pass suspicions and unsolidified supposed facts around in regards to what may or may not have happened to Devon. Remember, many people loved him, and many people called him family. To carry rumor as fact can be very painful for those of us already broken and hurting at this loss. Please respect the privacy and feelings of his mother and father at this time. More information will be disseminated here on our page as his parents feel comfortable, ready and necessary to release. For those of us local, I encourage you to rally around Maureen and Dean, Lend them your support, in whatever manner it takes, a shoulder, an ear, or even just a smile. Listen and talk to your kids, many of them knew Devon and this is going to be a hard time for them and for us all. Remember our Devon, For even now his candle is not extiguished, and can never be, as long as we all remember that smile, that lauigh, the silly voices he made. My favorite was his silly voiced rendition of “I’m a Gummybear”, and how he got me hooked on the game Skyrim…. Devon lives on in every life he touched and will continue to touch. His was a life lived bravely, and lovingly. The young man I knew would not want our tears, he would understand them, but he would not want them. Instead he would want to leave us with a smile, a laugh, a ‘Gummybear’! Let us celebrate that he lived and we were blessed enough to know him, to love him, to remember him. He taught us all so many things and gave so much of himself so unselfishly, even when he himself had so little at times. I know I am a better person for him having touched my life, and soon I will dry my tears, and when I do I will smile and if only in my mind I will hear “Oh, I’m a Gummy Bear yes’ Yeah, I’m a Gummy Bear yeah, Oh, I’m a Yummy, tummy, Funny, Lucky Gummy Bear. I’m a Jelly bear, Cuz I’m a Gummy bear,Oh I’m a movin’, groovin’, Jammin’, Singin’ Gummy Bear”  Please Share on this page if you have a memory of Devon. I know it will give his mom and dad comfort to read them and know what an amazing young man we all know they raised.
Love you Devie Poo.”

The Cochise County Sheriff’s Office is investigating his death, and there is no further information how Ward ended up in Arizona or the cause of this death.

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Jerrie Dean, who is retired from Federal Law Enforcement, is the Founder of Missing Persons of America.