Memphis soldier dies after going missing in Florida during training exercise

Memphis soldier dies after going missing in Florida during training exercise
Cayln McLemore went missing during a training exercise Wednesday.

CAMP BLANDING, FL (WMC) - A soldier from Memphis who went missing during a training exercise in Florida was found dead on Friday.

Officials with Clay County Sheriff's Office in Florida said Cayln McLemore, an Army Reservist, was in a military training class and did not make it to a rallying point at 11 a.m. Wednesday.

"There was no flaw in him. He stayed to himself, but he worked and loved his family," McLemore's mom said.

It's the visit no military mom ever wants to get.

Alabama reserve soldiers delivered the news that her son, Specialist Cayln Mclemore, died during a three-day military training class in Clay County, Florida.

The news was heart-wrenching.

All we know is McLemore was in the near 1,000-acre area of woods surrounding Camp Blanding, about an hour south Jacksonville, Florida.

"Part of the course is where they go out and have to do a land navigation assignment, and he did not return at 11:00 on Wednesday at the rally point like he should have," Sgt. Keith Smith, with the Clay County Sheriff's Office, said.

At 4 p.m. Friday, Sgt. Smith said Clay County Sheriff's Office was still dedicated to finding McLemore.

"We have not made contact [with McLemore]. The search will continue. We will go throughout the night. We will not stop," Sgt. Smith had said during the press conference.

Earlier in the search, crews found some of the items McLemore was given to help him complete the training exercise. One item that was not found, was McLemore's canteen. That detail gave search crews hope that McLemore was doing the things necessary to survive in the Florida heat.

McLemore, 25, graduated from Melrose High School and has spent the last six years in the Army Reserves.

According to NBC affiliate First Coast News, the training assignment given to McLemore was designed to test the soldier's navigational skills. They were given equipment and maps to find their way across a 1,000-acre area of woods at Camp Blanding in Florida. The exercise usually takes an hour or so.

Friday, Smith said a second group of investigators was getting ready to relieve the daytime search crew. The second crew planned to search through the night for McLemore.

Smith said soldiers have gotten off course before, but are usually found within 30 minutes to an hour. All soldiers who have previously participated in this training exercise have returned safely.

The search for McLemore utilized ATV, officers on horseback, K-9s and air units.

Investigators believe the heat and rough terrain caused McLemore to fall off course. The course is swamp land with waters and marsh that are at times chest deep.

"[He is a] squared away soldier, hard charger, just wanted to go out there and complete the course and probably pushed it to the limit in this extreme heat," Smith said.

Nothing has been released about how the soldier died. Earlier, Smith noted how the sweltering 90-degree temperature and rough terrain may have played a role in his disappearance, but the family still has a lot of questions.

The family was told that they found some of Mclemore's equipment and that he had a cellphone with him.

"My thing is, he didn't make no phone calls? How can a cell phone go dead? You would have made a call if you felt like something is wrong," Shannon Mays, McLemore's cousin, said.

McLemore's family plans to go to Jacksonville on Saturday.

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