U.S. Soldier Goes Missing While Kayaking on River Connected to Ozarks

by Jennifer Shea

A U.S. soldier disappeared while kayaking a river linked to the Ozarks, according to base officials at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri.

The U.S. Army specialist’s last known location was on the Gasconade River in Waynesville, Missouri, base officials said in a statement, per Fox News.

Joshua J. Morrison was last seen close to Ruby’s Landing. The riverside resort and campground boasts canoeing, kayaking and rafting options.

Rescuers Search for Soldier

Military and civilian rescuers combed the area for signs of Morrison but did not find him.

However, they did find Morrison’s kayak and backpack roughly a mile downriver from where they believe he launched.

“Fort Leonard Wood first responders along with Special Agents from the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command are working closely with the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Department and the Waynesville Fire Department with search and rescue operations along the river,” base officials said in their statement on the missing soldier.

They requested that anyone with information about Morrison contact local law enforcement at 573-596-6141.

The Ozark Mountains Contain Many Lakes and Rivers

The Ozarks are full of lakes and rivers that run throughout Missouri and Arkansas. The river where the soldier disappeared is just one of several major ones. The mountain range also plays host to a number of natural springs.

Also referred to as Ozark Plateau, the Ozarks are densely wooded highlands that span the territory between St. Louis and the Arkansas River, according to Britannica. The mountains themselves stretch for about 50,000 square miles – 33,000 of those in Missouri, 13,000 in Arkansas and the rest in Illinois and Kansas.

The Ozarks are the only mountainous topography between the Appalachian Mountains and the Rockies. Their highest points are in Arkansas, with the highest point in Missouri being the Taum Sauk Mountain west of Ironton in the St. Francois Mountains. Many underground streams and springs dot the landscape, as well.

Lake of the Ozarks provides power (via the Bagnell Dam on the Osage River) and recreation to the region. Other recreation areas include Taneycomo Lake, Bull Shoals Lake and Table Rock State Park.

The Gasconade River, where the soldier disappeared, is one of several rivers that drain the Ozark region, the others being the Osage, White and Black rivers.