Competitors race toward the finish line of a ruck march during the MSNG Best Warrior Competition at Camp Shelby Joint Forces Training Center, Miss., on March 22, 2023.

Competitors race toward the finish line of a ruck march during the MSNG Best Warrior Competition at Camp Shelby Joint Forces Training Center, Miss., on March 22, 2023. (Shawn Keeton/U.S. Army National Guard)

National Guard activities in Mississippi have been moved indoors amid a recent heat wave that left one soldier dead and another in a hospital for more than one week, a Guard official said Monday.

Senior Mississippi Guard officials issued a heat safety stand-down order on Aug. 12 that restricts the state’s Guard troops and other service members training on Mississippi Guard installations from outdoor physical training between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m., said Lt. Col. Deidre Smith, a spokeswoman for the state’s Guard. Smith said Monday that the order would remain in place indefinitely as the state faces a record heat wave with highs forecasted this week between 104 and 108 degrees, according to the National Weather Service.

“Leaders are consistently evaluating weather conditions and performing risk assessments to measure and prevent further heat injuries to safeguard our service members and insure we are always ready and always there for the Mississippi communities in which we serve,” Smith said.

The stand-down order came one day after an Illinois National Guard soldier training at Camp Shelby, Miss., died Aug. 11 after experiencing a heat injury.

The soldier showed signs of heat illness after completing a 2-mile run, the final event of the service’s six-event Army Combat Fitness Test while training in the Army Basic Leader Course, Smith said. The soldier was immediately assessed by a medic and sent by ambulance to Forrest General Hospital in nearby Hattiesburg, where he was pronounced dead shortly after arriving.

“It is a devastating loss to lose a fellow comrade,” Smith said. “On behalf of the Mississippi National Guard, our thoughts and prayers are with the family, friends, and fellow soldiers of our fallen comrade from Illinois.”

Officials with the Illinois National Guard declined to identify the fallen soldier by name, citing the wishes of the service member’s family.

The next day, a second soldier was sent to Forrest General Hospital after experiencing a suspected heat injury at Camp Shelby, Smith said. That soldier, a member of the Mississippi National Guard, remained hospitalized Monday.

The soldier is a member of the Mississippi Guard under a program that allows some troops to train before shipping to Basic Combat Training and he was participating in ACFT training when he fell ill, Smith said. The soldier, whose name was not made public, was scheduled to go to Basic Combat Training this week.

Smith said two instructors helped the soldier to a shaded area and made certain that he was drinking water after noticing signs of heat illness. When the soldier’s condition quickly worsened, an instructor loaded the ill trooper into a government vehicle and drove him to the hospital, she said.

author picture
Corey Dickstein covers the military in the U.S. southeast. He joined the Stars and Stripes staff in 2015 and covered the Pentagon for more than five years. He previously covered the military for the Savannah Morning News in Georgia. Dickstein holds a journalism degree from Georgia College & State University and has been recognized with several national and regional awards for his reporting and photography. He is based in Atlanta.

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign up to receive a daily email of today's top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign Up Now