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Canadian paratrooper killed, two US soldiers hurt during Bulgaria parachute jumps

U.S. paratroopers from the 173rd Airborne Brigade and other allied paratroopers conduct night airborne operations from a C-17 Globemaster III during the Swift Response exercise at Boboc Drop Zone, Romania, June 14, 2019. A Canadian paratrooper was killed and two U.S. soldiers were injured Tuesday, June 18, during a Swift Response jump in Bulgaria.

GRAIGG FAGGIONATO/U.S. ARMY

By JOHN VANDIVER | STARS AND STRIPES Published: June 20, 2019

STUTTGART, Germany — A Canadian paratrooper was killed and three allied servicemembers, including two Americans, were injured during an Army-led training exercise in Bulgaria, U.S. Army Europe and Canadian officials said Thursday.

Canadian paratrooper Patrick Labrie died after sustaining injuries during a parachute jump Tuesday near the Bulgarian village of Cheshnegirovo, Canadian Armed Forces said.

“The airborne jump was immediately suspended in order to attend to the paratrooper,” USAREUR told Stars and Stripes. “All casualties were immediately transported to local hospitals where one was pronounced dead, one was admitted for further evaluation, and two were treated and released.”

Two of the injured soldiers were American and the third was Canadian, USAREUR said.

Canadian authorities are investigating what went wrong during the jump that killed Labrie. The Canadians and Americans jumped from separate planes.

Labrie was a six-year veteran of the Canadian military, serving with the 2nd Regiment of the Royal Canadian Horse Artillery, according to the Toronto Sun. He was described by the unit’s commander, Lt. Col. Dan Matheson, as a “proud gunner” who could “fill a room with his presence,” the newspaper reported.

The accident happened during the Army’s Swift Response exercise, in which around 7,000 allied troops, including soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division, are taking part.

Swift Response is taking place at locations in Bulgaria, Croatia and Romania from June 11-24. Led by the U.S. Global Response Force, it’s designed to demonstrate U.S. European Command’s ability to deploy high-readiness forces to an emergency, while allowing airborne allies to train together.

It’s one of several exercises taking place this summer in the Balkans and Black Sea region in southeastern Europe, where tensions have risen in recent years following the annexation of Crimea by Russia in 2014 and the ongoing conflict that ensued in eastern Ukraine.

vandiver.john@stripes.com
Twitter: @john_vandiver

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