The victim of the West Point Military Academy training accident has been identified as Christopher Morgan, a cadet from New Jersey.
An armored personnel carrier crashed during a training exercise near the Camp Natural Bridge training site in Orange County, New York, on June 6.
Morgan was the only fatality but 21 people were injured: two soldiers and 19 cadets. None of the injuries were life-threatening.
West Point on Friday identified Morgan as the cadet who died. It said the 22-year-old hailed from West Orange and was a Law and Legal Studies major and a recruited athlete who was a top wrestler in the Army wrestling team.
— West Orange Schools (@woschools) March 26, 2015
“We are devastated by the news of Chris’ passing. He was a talented, hardworking, and determined athlete who loved his sport,” said Army West Point wrestling coach Kevin Ward in a statement. “Chris had an infectious personality with a smile big enough to fill any room, and a heart big enough to love everyone around him. He made everyone around him better and he will be greatly missed.”
“Cadet C.J. Morgan was a valued member of the Corps of Cadets and will be missed by all. The entire community is ensuring that our cadets are being cared for physically, emotionally, and spiritually,” added Lt. Gen. Darryl A. Williams, 60th Superintendent of the U.S. Military Academy. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the Morgan family.”
A vigil was planned for Friday night. A memorial ceremony for the West Point community and private funeral service was slated to be held at the academy next week.
The U.S. Military Academy is located at West Point, about 50 miles north of New York City. It was founded in 1802.
Chris Morgan Sr., Morgan’s father, hailed his son as a hero.
“I’ll always miss him. There’s no changing that. It’s tough—I’ll always love him and that will never go away. That will never change. He will always be here,” he told the NJ Advance Media, indicating his heart.
Morgan wrestled at West Orange High School, going 42-2 during his senior year.
“He always had this nine-year-old, pure-authentic energy. He just believed in the good in the world, and you saw it in everything that he did. He was a hero to so many people and an inspiration,” West Orange wrestling coach Stephan Zichella said.
West Pointer Chris Morgan (WOHS Class of 2015), Naval Academy Upperclassman Dylan Pennell (WOHS Class of 2014) and West Point freshman Andrei Rosu (WOHS Class of 2017) at the #ArmyNavyGame on Dec. 9. @WestPoint_USMA @USNavy #WestOrangeNJ pic.twitter.com/uIDRRGiD7J
— West Orange Schools (@woschools) December 12, 2017
“He left his mark on this community and on so many people. He was the hardest-working kid I’ve ever coached and the highest-character kid. It’s a terrible day right now in West Orange,” Zichella added.
Brandon Edwards, a friend of Morgan’s in high school, said he was an inspiration to him.
“Even if he didn’t know you, he would say hi to you in the hallway,” Edwards said. “He would stop to talk to you, make sure you’re having a good day, and if not, he’d do everything in his power to turn that frown into a smile.”
Morgan eventually inspired him to join the high schools JROTC program, which Edwards said changed his life.