A 21-year-old member of New Hampshire’s National Guard, who had been aiding the NH Food Bank for COVID-19 relief operations, died last week, drowning after she became overwhelmed by strong currents in the Merrimack River.
Spc. Pamela Anne Usanase, a culinary specialist with the 3643rd Brigade Support Battalion and senior at Plymouth State College, was at Pebble Beach in Canterbury on May 30 when she was caught up by currents and deep water. She was pronounced dead the following day, according to a statement from the NH National Guard.
“Pamela was a focused and dedicated soldier with a promising future in our organization,” NH Adjutant Gen. David Mikolaities said. "She was admired and respected by her fellow guardsmen."
Usanase was part of a team of 28 guardsmen in New Hampshire, which had prepared more than 43,500 meals for families in need during the difficulties brought about by COVID-19.
Gov. Chris Sununu said on Twitter he was "deeply saddened" to hear of Usanase's death.
"Spc. Usanase represented the very best of the Granite State, consistently prioritizing service to her community," Sununu said in a tweet. "Throughout COVID19, she was on the frontlines distributing food to those in need. We mourn her loss. Our sympathies are with her family."
Usanase was the loving daughter of Marie and Cyprian Mugenga, of Concord, and a devoted sister to Aimee Uwase, Paulette M. Niwewase, Feydeau P. Mugenga and Anaelle Mugenga.
She also worked part-time with her mother and sisters as a mental health worker at the New Hampshire State Hospital, and as an assistant registered nurse at the Genesis Health Care Pleasant View Center in Concord.
At Plymouth State College, Usanase was an Allied Health Sciences major who made the President’s List last year. She planned to pursue a career in occupational health therapy after earning a master’s degree.
Usanase, a Concord resident, graduated from her local high school in 2017, where she excelled as a student athlete – especially in soccer. She also spoke six languages and joined the NHARNG at 17.