Authorities identify Fort Hood soldier who drowned while swimming in area lake

Published: Jul. 10, 2021 at 9:39 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 12, 2021 at 1:15 PM CDT
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STILLHOUSE HOLLOW LAKE, Texas (KWTX) - Authorities have identified a man who drowned while swimming Saturday in Stillhouse Hollow Lake whose body was recovered Monday morning as Gregory Ellis, 21.

Ellis was an active-duty soldier stationed at Fort Hood, Bell County sheriff’s Lt. Robert Reinhard said in a press release.

His body was found Monday morning in the same area of the lake at Dana Peak Park where witnesses said he went under on Saturday.

Ellis, who joined the Army in 2019 and had been assigned to Fort Hood since February 2020, was assigned to 13th Expeditionary Sustainment Command and was currently serving as a petroleum laboratory specialist.

His previous decorations include the National Defense Service Medal and the Army Service Ribbon.

“Private First Class Gregory Ellis will be missed by all of us. He was a highly respected Soldier and will always be remembered as a brother-in-arms who was dedicated to defending the ideals of our Nation. He will never be forgotten,” said Lt. Col. Paul W. Smith, commander of the 61st Quartermaster Battalion.

Private First Class Gregory Ellis was an active duty Soldier assigned to 13th Expeditionary...
Private First Class Gregory Ellis was an active duty Soldier assigned to 13th Expeditionary Sustainment Command.(Courtesy Photo)

The Bell County Sheriff’s Department received reports of a possible drowning at around 5:30 p.m. Saturday.

“Reports were that the male had swam into the water to try and retrieve a floatation device that had gotten away, began to struggle and went under water and did not resurface,” Reinhard said.

The game warden said rain over the past several days and tall grass in the water made the recovery effort very difficult.

“One of the challenges we faced in this recovery was the hydrilla. Which is a tall grass, 6 sometimes ten twelve feet tall,” said Bell County Game Warden Brandt Bernstein, “Our divers could not dive through that thick mat.”

As the weather improves, officials are stressing the importance of water safety.

“It’s a busy time for game wardens across the state we’re stressing water safety across the board,” said Bernstein.

“If at anytime someone’s boat or raft floats away from them, walk the shore or ask a boater to get it for you. We can rebuy that but we can’t rebuy a life.”

Personnel from the U.S Army Corps of Engineers, Texas Parks and Wildlife, and the Morgan’s Point Resort Dive Team joined the search which continued through the weekend and into Monday morning.

The drowning remains under investigation.

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