CAMP SHELBY, Miss. (WLOX) - Four soldiers are still in the hospital after a nighttime training accident at Camp Shelby left 23 paratroopers injured. But officials say their soldiers are mission focused, and expect to resume their training in the next 24 hours.
Thursday afternoon, the Department of Defense released video of the nighttime exercise, and daytime video flying over the drop zone. (See below)
Officials at Forrest General Hospital held a press conference Thursday morning to give an update on the status of those injured.
Dr. Duncan Donald, the trauma medical director at Forrest General, said none of the injuries were life-threatening. Most consisted of fractures to the extremities and complaints of back pain.
None of the paratroopers were treated for spinal injuries or significant head injuries. Two soldiers required emergency surgery overnight and are now recovering. Donald said he expects all paratroopers to be able to return to active duty within three months.
Early reports from Camp Shelby indicated that as many as 23 people were injured during the training exercise, which involved 89 soldiers parachuting into a wooded area from a C-130.
According to Camp Shelby commander Col. Bobby Ginn, the trouble happened when the wind blew the paratroopers away from their intended drop zone and into a group of pine trees.
The soldiers are part of the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division out of Alaska. They’re training at Camp Shelby as part of “Operation Arctic Anvil.”
According to the group’s Facebook page, the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division is an airborne brigade combat team of the United States Army. The unit is home-stationed at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska and is a subordinate unit of U.S. Army Alaska.
Just after midnight, the Mississippi National Guard released the following statement about the incident:
"At 8:00 P.M. this evening the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, United States Army Alaska, conducted an Airborne Operation on Camp Shelby Joint Forces Training Center, Hattiesburg, Miss., with approximately 650 Soldiers jumping in to begin at ten-day training exercise. We are still consolidating Soldiers on the drop zone at this time.
Airborne Operations all bear an inherent risk. We strive to mitigate this risk as much as possible. Forrest General Hospital was notified prior to the jump of the potential influx of patients and the types of injuries to be expected and emergency vehicles were on standby at Camp Shelby prior to the jump.
We are grateful for the overwhelming support that we have received from units here on Camp Shelby as well as local first responders. The entire community has come together to ensure that we are able to provide expert treatment to any Soldiers who were injured during the Airborne Operation. Confirmed injuries are not known at this time.
Once all Soldiers have been accounted for, our goal is ultimately to continue training. Despite the challenges that we currently face, Soldiers always place the mission first."