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Fort Bragg soldier dies in airborne training accident

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. — A Fort Bragg soldier died Friday during a training exercise at Holland Drop Zone.

Sgt. Shaina B. Schmigel, 21, of Medina, New York, was killed during an airborne operation using a T-11 parachute, according to the 82nd Airborne Division. The cause of death is currently under investigation.

Schmigel was an intelligence analyst with the 37th Engineer Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, according to officials. She joined the Army in 2010 and has been assigned to 2nd Brigade since June 2011.

Later that year, Schmigel deployed to Iraq with the brigade.

"All of the paratroopers in the brigade are deeply saddened by the loss of an extraordinary and much-respected member of our team," said Lt. Col. Albert Paquin, Schmegil's brigade commander. "Our thoughts and prayers are with her family and friends during this time of great loss. Our chaplains and our health care professionals are available to help comfort and support all of her fellow paratroopers affected by this tragedy."

Schmigel's awards and decorations include the Army Achievement Medal with one oak leaf cluster, the Army Good Conduct Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Iraq Campaign Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon, the Army Service Ribbon, and the Parachutist Badge.

She was using the Army's newest parachute, introduced to Fort Bragg in 2009 because it is designed for the bulkier load that today's soldiers carry.

The T-11 is built to hold up to 400 pounds and still fall with a slower and more stable descent. The parachute replaced the older T-10D model, which had been used by the Army since 1952.

In 2011, the Army suspended the use of the T-11 after a training death on Fort Bragg.

Sgt. Jamal Clay, a soldier with the 82nd Airborne's 3rd Brigade Combat Team, fell to his death when his T-11 parachute malfunctioned in June of that year.

The T-11 was reintroduced in March 2012, with Fort Bragg's then-commander, Lt. Gen. Frank Helmick, being the first to use the parachute to show leaders' confidence.

According to Army officials, Clay did not activate his reserve parachute and a safety investigation board determined the T-11 failed because of debris within the parachute and improper packing.

A U.S. Army Public Health Command study comparing the T-10D and T-11 parachutes found the latter to be safer.

The study, which tracked injury data for airborne operations involving Fort Bragg soldiers over 31/2 years, found that soldiers were injured in 9.1 out of 1,000 jumps with the T-10D and 5.2 out of 1,000 jumps with the T-11.

The T-11 had a lower injury incidence "under virtually all the operational conditions examined here," according to the report, released in February.

Schmigel's death is the first of a Fort Bragg soldier during an airborne operation since last year, when Col. Darron L. Wright, assistant chief of staff of the 18th Airborne Corps, was killed during a jump at Sicily Drop Zone in September.

Wright was using a third type of parachute, known as a MC-6, that is less commonly used by paratroopers.
 

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