At least 16 soldiers were hospitalized following a static-line parachuting accident at Camp Shelby, Mississippi, last night, officials said.
The soldiers were based out of Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska. The incident is under investigation and the cause of the mishap is not immediately known, according to Pennell.
“They were doing a training exercise called Arctic Anvil,” he said. “This is the first time that we’ve done the exercise in Mississippi. ... I don’t think this will end the exercise, but that determination will be made on the ground in Mississippi.”
“Everyone is accounted for,” he added.
Lt. Col. Matt Myer, commander of 1st Battalion, 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment, said in a statement that soldiers had to be recovered from trees, indicating that they likely missed the drop zone or were blown off course.
“Paratroopers from across the brigade and Camp Shelby are assisting in getting others out of the trees,” Myer said in a statement that went out early Thursday morning. “All of the accounted for jumpers are being afforded access to phones to call their loved ones.”
The jump took place at about 8 p.m. on Wednesday. There were approximately 650 soldiers jumping in to begin a 10-day training exercise.
“Airborne operations all bear an inherent risk. We strive to mitigate this risk as much as possible," a 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team statement reads.
A local hospital was notified prior to the jump, the statement added. Emergency vehicles were also on standby on Camp Shelby prior to the jump.
“Once all Soldiers have been accounted for, our goal is ultimately to continue training,” Myer said in his statement. “Despite the challenges that we currently face, Soldiers always place the mission first.”
Roughly 3,000 Army Alaska soldiers were participating in the Arctic Anvil exercise.
“We are grateful for the overwhelming support that we have received from units here on Camp Shelby as well as local first responders," the 4th IBCT statement reads. "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.”
Kyle Rempfer is an editor and reporter who has covered combat operations, criminal cases, foreign military assistance and training accidents. Before entering journalism, Kyle served in U.S. Air Force Special Tactics and deployed in 2014 to Paktika Province, Afghanistan, and Baghdad, Iraq. Follow on Twitter @Kyle_Rempfer