Fort Jackson Soldiers and civilians pay respects to Capt. Laura Chapek at the Daniel Circle Chapel, May 12. (Photo by Nathan Clinebelle)

Fort Jackson pays respects to Capt. Laura Chapek

by Emily Hileman, Fort Jackson Public Affairs

Soldiers from across Fort Jackson and the immediate family of Capt. Laura Chapek gathered in Daniel Circle Chapel, May 12 to pay respects to her life as well as her dedication to her Soldiers, Family and community.

Chapek was serving as the executive officer for 1st Battalion, 34th Infantry Regiment at the time of her unexpected passing, April 23. She was known for her empathy, loyalty, motivation and passion for taking care of her Soldiers.

“She would charge headfirst in a situation to ensure the trainees and the Soldiers of the battalion were well taken care of,” said Lt. Col. Brennan Goltry, 1st Battalion, 34th Infantry Battalion commander. “I enjoyed her passion and her energy as she engaged the various elements on base … Laura was tenacious, she never gave up. She enjoyed taking civilians and making them lethal, fit and disciplined Soldiers.”

During her time as the Company B commander, Chapek dealt with a loss of her own that no leader wants to face, one of her own Soldiers. Pvt. 1st Class Alyssa Cahoon collapsed five days prior to her Basic Combat Training graduation. Chapek was a first responder who delivered CPR to the young Soldier.

“After Allie’s passing, Laura was humble enough to ask if there was anything else she could have done to help Allie,” said Command Sgt. Maj. John Duncan when speaking on behalf of the Cahoon Family.

“The answer was ‘no,’ but she didn’t stop there,” Duncan said. “She helped us in ways she may not have comprehended.” She became a permanent fixture in the Cahoon Family by taking the other children for walks, bringing the family food, and even playing games with them to distract them.

Chapek, a native of Spring Lake, North Carolina, attended Campbell University in Buies Creek and contracted as an Army cadet in 2012. She graduated with her Bachelor of Science in Homeland Security with concentrations in Terrorism and Intelligence. Chapek’s desire

to better herself, her community and her country didn’t stop there.

She commissioned as an Air Defense Artillery Officer in 2016. She was then stationed at Fort Cavazos as part of the 69th Air Defense Artillery Brigade. Her military education includes Air Defense Artillery Basic Officer Leader Course, Air Assault, Sexual Harassment and Assault Victim Advocate and the Air Defense Artillery Captain’s Career Course.

Chapek arrived at Fort Jackson in 2021 and was assigned as the company commander of Company B, 1st Battalion, 34th Infantry Regiment.

“If I could summarize who she was as a person, I would say these three things. She was caring, strong minded and confident,” Sgt. 1st Class Zackary Goodin said. “… She was a leader that would never expect anything that she would not do herself. I can speak for all of Bravo Company when I say that we will be forever grateful to have had a commander like Capt. Chapek.”

Chapek’s awards include the Army Commendation Medal, the Army Achievement Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Overseas Service Medal and the Air Assault Badge.

Laura had a love of life, dogs, the outdoors, sports and motorcycle riding. Chapek is survived by her beloved dog Bowser, her mother and best friend Mindy Wells and bonus father Wally Wells, father Ricky Chapek Jr, three brothers, two sisters and several other Family members.