Two of the nine soldiers killed when a military truck overturned in an overflowing creek on the Ft. Hood military base in Texas last week were Southern California residents, officials announced Sunday.
Spc. Christine Faith Armstrong, a 27-year-old motor transport operator, was a resident of Twentynine Palms. Spc. Yingming Sun, 25, was a resident of Monterey Park.
Armstrong was born in Camp Lejeune, N.C., to a father who was a Marine, said her sister Tabatha Yeampierre. The family moved around a lot, living on military bases in North Carolina, Arizona and Massachusetts before moving to Twentynine Palms.
The sisters were "inseparable," and they had both talked about joining the military together to carry on their father's work, but Yeampierre met her husband before it happened. Armstrong, the youngest in her family of five, enlisted on her own at age 24.
She was a generous, friendly person who always tried to look after everyone around her, said Yeampierre, 30. She gave her nephews piggyback rides and was great with kids. When they'd talk on the phone to stay in touch, Armstrong would always spent more time talking about the people she was trying to help and the problems they were having, rather than her own, Yeampierre said.
"If I could make people see who she was, I'd want them to know how kind and generous and friendly and happy she was," Yeampierre said.
During her career, Armstrong earned the National Defense Service medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Korean Defense Service Medal, the Army Service Ribbon and the Overseas Service Ribbon.
Sun, whose family could not be reached for this article, was a heavy equipment driver and joined the military in March 2013. He had been stationed at Ft. Hood since August 2014.
During his career, he earned the National Defense Service Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Medal, the Korea Defense Service Medal, the Army Service Ribbon and the Overseas Service Ribbon.
Sun and Armstrong were among a group of soldiers who were training Thursday in a wooded area along Owl Creek about a dozen miles north of the main post in an 11-ton Light Medium Tactical Vehicle, a flatbed truck with a walled bed used to carry troops. They were off-road, on a "tank trail," traversing a low-water crossing when they overturned about 11 a.m., according to Ft. Hood spokesman Tyler Broadway.
"Anywhere there's a low-water crossing, it usually floods," Broadway said, and though the tactical vehicle is equipped for tough terrain, he added, "you can't underestimate what water can do."