UPDATE: 32 parachuting soldiers hurt in night jump; one broke back, but is expected to recover

Published 2:25 pm Thursday, October 3, 2019

Eighty-seven parachuting soldiers were blown into trees, 32 were injured and 18 of them hospitalized, including one who suffered a broken back during a night training exercise at a Mississippi military training center, officials said Thursday.

The soldiers were among 650 jumping in to open a 10-day training exercise at Camp Shelby, a 134,000-acre National Guard site that includes a joint forces training center for active and reserve service members, officials said in a news release.

Lt. Col. Matthew Myer, commander of the 1st Battalion, 501st Infantry Regiment, wrote on Facebook that the soldier with the spinal injury was among 18 who “required care” and are all expected to recover. The one with a broken back was operated on successfully and “is expected to recover well,” he wrote.

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He said 87 soldiers from the 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division landed in trees. At least four lodged so high up that the fire department had to help get them down.

“Despite the difficulty of this training jump, the battalion performed well and will recover well to continue our training mission.

“We will continue to recover our equipment over the next day before we continue training,” Myers wrote.

The brigade combat team is stationed at the Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage, Alaska.

Mississippi National Guard spokeswoman Lt. Col. Deidre Smith said soldiers continued to jump into the drop zone after the injuries, with units trying to account for their members.

“Once all soldiers have been accounted for, our goal is ultimately to continue training,” Smith said in a statement. “Despite the challenges that we currently face, soldiers always place the mission first.”

Smith said the base works to reduce risks associated with airborne operations, with a nearby hospital in Hattiesburg on alert and emergency vehicles on standby at Camp Shelby.

About 3,000 troops from the Alaska base are participating in a monthlong training called “Operation Arctic Anvil.” The Mississippi base is devoted to large-scale training, with convoys of military trucks a common sight on nearby highways and military aircraft frequently seen overhead.