EL PASO – As the Army continues to search for missing soldier Pvt. Richard Halliday, the commanding general at Fort Bliss has ordered an investigation of the soldier’s unit.
“I directed an investigation into the leadership, climate and treatment of soldiers in the 1st Battalion 43rd Air Defense Artillery Battalion, “said Maj. General Sean C. Bernabe, senior mission commander at Fort Bliss.
Bernabe announced the investigation during an extensive update on the case for handful of journalists on post.
He detailed the chronology of the “exhaustive” search for the solider who was last seen on post July 23rd. A witness reported seeing Halliday leave Fort Bliss but later admitted that was not true.
Along with searching the massive military installation multiple times, Fort Bliss has partnered with local, state and federal law enforcement agencies to expand the search to parts of El Paso and across the border into Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. The Army Criminal Investigation Command is leading the current effort.
“To date these Special Agents have devoted over 540 investigative hours on this case, issued 50 subpoenas and five warrants, conducted 160 interviews and executed eight local searches,” said Bernabe. But the soldier’s whereabouts remain a mystery.
Halliday’s parents have been critical of the Army for the initial handling of the case and failure to notify them for more than a month that their 21-year-old son was missing. Patricia and Robert Halliday have held rallies at the entrance to Fort Bliss urging anyone with information to come forward.
“The reason we are doing this is we have to value our soldiers’ lives. If they go missing, we have to double, triple check that they walked away on purpose,” said Patricia Halliday during an interview at a rally in October.
The Hallidays have also handed out flyers in Ciudad Juarez and met with Mexican law enforcement and organizations in Mexico created by families searching for their missing relatives.
Maj General Bernabe arrived at Fort Bliss at the end of September and said he looked at the case with “fresh eyes.” He acknowledges mistakes were made.
“Despite attempts, we failed to make a timely initial contact with the Halliday family. That failure caused us to lose the trust of the Halliday family. We are working hard to regain the trust of the Halliday family,” he said.
He said the family will be notified of the results of the investigation of Halliday’s unit once completed.
Another mistake noted by Bernabe: Fort Bliss was “slow” to seek assistance from Army investigators because it presumed Halliday was deliberately absent without leave.
“Moving forward those mistakes will not be repeated. We owe it to every family and every service member to search for missing soldiers until that solider is found,” Bernabe said.
The general says he has not given up hope the solider will be found alive. “We will not stop looking for Pvt. Halliday until we find him.”
The Army is offering a reward of up to $25,000 for credible information about Halliday’s whereabouts. Contact the Fort Bliss CID office or call (915)568-1700.