SrA. Michael J. Hinkle II, 24, of Corona, Calif., has died due to a non-combat-related incident in Southwest Asia, the Defense Department announced. Hinkle died Wednesday. The cause of his death is under investigation. Hinkle was a cyber transport systems journeyman assigned to the 28th Communications Squadron at Ellsworth AFB, S.D. He was deployed to the 386th Expeditionary Communications Squadron at an undisclosed air base in Southwest Asia. “We are deeply saddened by the loss of our fellow airman,” said Col. Jeffrey Taliaferro, commander of Ellsworth’s 28th Bomb Wing, in a release. Taliaferro added, “Mike will be missed by all of us, and our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends during this difficult time.”
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.