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Mother of Gregory Morales pushing for change in deserter status of her son

Gregory Morales' remains were found in Killeen on June 19.

TEXAS, USA — It has been five days since Gregory Morales' remains were found in a shallow grave in Killeen, according to his brother.  

It has been about 10 months since he disappeared from Fort Hood. After going missing, he was listed as AWOL. Later on, he was labeled as a deserter. According to the Army's list, it appears he is still listed as one.

That is something his mother, Kim Wedel is looking to change.

"My issue is he's a soldier. He died a soldier and he deserves to be treated like one. Not just thrown away and forgotten," Wedel said.   

Wedel said she is trying to figure out funeral arrangements. She said she got a call from Fort Hood that said Gregory was still in Dallas and would be transferred back to Temple. 

"Since he was considered non-military at this point that we would have to make arrangements to pick him up or whatever we needed to do to transport him up here," Wedel said. 

She said she reached out to her casualty officer out of Fort Sill. According to Wedel, she was told they were planning to clear Gregory's name. Then she got a call back that clarified that until the autopsy results came back showing Gregory had been dead for ten months, they were going to put his date of death as last Friday. 

"So, basically he is still deserter status," Wedel said. 

Kim confirmed because of his deserter status, costs to get his body back and funeral costs are all on the family. 

A Fort Hood official said Morales' status is up to the Human Resources Command at the Army level. 

Public Affairs Officer for 1st Cavalry Division LT COL Christopher Brautigam sent 6 News a statement saying they were in touch with the family.

"We are deeply saddened by the passing of PV2 Gregory Morales," said Brautigam. "Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends and fellow troopers as they grieve his passing. The unit is fully cooperating with the local authorities who are leading the investigation. We cannot take further action on his status until an autopsy is complete and the cause of death and the time of death are determined. Unit leadership is in contact with his family and providing support, as permitted by Army policy, during this difficult time. We will remain in contact with the family and investigators throughout this process. "

The League of United Latin American Citizens issued a statement Thursday comparing Morales' case to missing Fort Hood soldier Vanessa Guillen.

“Private Morales was just two weeks away from completing six years of service in the Army yet Fort Hood investigators ignored his family’s pleas for help for months and classified him as a deserter instead of doing their job. His brother said military investigators didn’t care,” said LULAC National President Domingo Garcia. “It doesn’t make sense that a young man who was just days away from getting an honorable discharge and his military benefits would all of a sudden just disappear without a trace. Yet, that’s exactly what the Army used as the excuse to do nothing for months, the same as they did in Vanessa’s case."

Kim said they have been on the phone all day with Senator Inhofe from Oklahoma and other officials.

"I think we have something on the move to get it fixed to get it done. I just, I don't know how long it's going to take and I honestly if he has been gone 10 months already I don't want him to sit in Temple for several more weeks waiting for somebody to sign a paper," Wedel said. 

Wedel said they can figure out how to get Gregory back if that is what they have to do, but until he's back, Wedel said she cannot fully get closure.

Director of Texas LULAC District 17 Analuisa Carrillo-Tapia said they were not going to allow what happened Morales' case to happen with Guillen.

Vanessa deserves to be found and the person or persons responsible need to be arrested before they do this to someone else," said Carillo-Tapia. "LULAC is going to stay on this case no matter what, until we get results. Then, we want a congressional hearing into what is going on at Fort Hood and other Army installations where soldiers have told us they too are being sexually harassed, just like Vanessa reported just before she went missing.

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