An 82nd Airborne paratrooper was killed and nine others were injured — two seriously — during an explosion in a training exercise gone wrong at Fort Bragg, North Carolina on Friday morning.
North Carolina Army base officials say Friday’s blast occurred during artillery live-fire training involving the 18th Fires Brigade. The statement said there was “an incident” with a M777 light, towed howitzer, however, no further details were available.
Of the two paratroopers seriously injured in the 82nd Airborne accident, one is at Womack Army Medical Center, while the other has been transferred to Duke University Medical Center. Officials credit two onsite medics with providing lifesaving care to the injured.
A statement on the 82nd Airborne division website reads:
“An incident occurred early this morning during a training exercise on Fort Bragg that killed one Paratrooper, seriously injured two Paratroopers with five Paratroopers treated for minor injuries and later released from Womack Army Medical Center.”
“The identities of the Paratroopers will be announced 24 hours after next of kin notification.”
Major General John W. Nicholson, Jr., Commanding General of the 82nd Airborne Division stated:
“We offer our heartfelt prayers and condolences to the families of the Paratroopers killed and wounded in this tragic incident. Our first priority is to provide the families with the support they need during this difficult time.”
The statement adds that the incident is under investigation by the Army Criminal Investigation Command, 82nd Airborne Division and the US Army Readiness Safety Center. More details will be provided as they become available.
Colonel Stephen G. Smith, the commander of the 18th Fires Brigade, said during a news conference Friday evening:
“We are diligently working to provide soldiers and their families the support and care during this difficult time.”
“We have suffered a great loss in the 18th Fires Brigade and express our deepest condolences. Those that have been affected by this tragic incident remain in our thoughts and prayers.”
Even though officials did not answer any questions during the press conference, Chris Grey, a spokesman for the Criminal Investigation Command, said investigators look into every death on Fort Bragg, and the presence of criminal investigators did not signify that officials thought a crime took place.
“All deaths are treated as though they are homicides,” Grey said.
Fort Bragg is the military’s largest installation at 138,000-acre and is home to more than 55,000 soldiers and some type of training constantly taking place on its lands.
The 82nd Airborne division is one of the oldest units in the US Army and specializes in parachute assault operations behind enemy lines. The famed unit has had a significant presence in every armed conflict of the 20th century.