This area was saddened by the accidental death of a National Guard soldier who recently had moved to Union. Staff Sgt. Robert J. Traxel, 34, was killed in Guatemala while performing his annual training with the Missouri National Guard.

He reportedly died of injuries after he was struck in the head by a tree limb that fell due to wind generated by helicopter rotor blades during a training exercise. The Guard is investigating the incident.

In training, accidental deaths do occur and they even happen in combat situations. Deaths from friendly fire especially are accidents that are among the most unfortunate. Many freak accidents occur in the military.

The death of the Missouri Guardsman was tragic. It serves as an example that nearly all of our military personnel, at home or abroad, in training or combat, are exposed to deadly situations. Staff Sgt. Traxel was a combat veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan. He served on active duty with the Army and Marines. He received a number of decorations.

He gave his life for his country.