Camp Shelby, Miss (WJTV) – Camp Commander Colonel Bobby Ginn and Colonel Christopher Landers with the Spartan Brigade updated the media Thursday.
The update follows an accident during a night jump that blew 87 paratroopers into the trees, injuring 32. Of those, 18 were taken to the hospital and four were hospitalized overnight. Two of those four underwent surgery.
Operation Arctic Anvil has been in place for a number of years. The training exercise involves members of Alaska’s 4th Brigade Combat Team and is hosted by Camp Shelby prior to exercises at Ft. Polk in Lousiana.
Landers says injuries during jumps are commonplace. But, he admits, having this many injuries is rare.
Col. Landers says because of the danger involved in these exercises, it is standard operating procedure to have a team of medics and first responders on-site and the nearest trauma unit on call. Because of those preparations, people on the ground were able to quickly respond to those stuck in the tops of the trees. Physicians say most of the people most seriously injured tried to free themselves in the dark not knowing how high up they were. In those instances, the fall to the ground, not the jump, was the cause of injury.
Mississippi National Guard Adjutant General Janson Boyles says those in charge always have the ability to make a decision if the wind is high or conditions become precarious. But, he says, Mother Nature often has the final word.
The most serious injury, a broken back, required spine surgery. Physicians at Forrest General say they anticipate it will take up to three months for the most seriously injured to recover.
Landers says the accident remains under investigation. A town hall will be held to update family members and to answer their questions.
To view the entire media update watch below.