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Five soldiers remain in ICU following Germany training jump

By STEVEN BEARDSLEY | STARS AND STRIPES Published: October 6, 2011

GRAFENWÖHR, Germany — Five soldiers remained in intensive care Thursday morning from injuries suffered during a parachute jump in the Hohenfels Training Area on Wednesday, according to a spokeswoman for the Joint Multinational Training Command.

Meanwhile, the monthlong exercise that began Wednesday will continue as planned, she said.

Twenty soldiers remained hospitalized in the nearby city of Regensburg as of Thursday morning, said Denver Makle, the JMTC spokeswoman. Four of the five soldiers in the intensive care unit were admitted directly upon transport from the field on Wednesday. The fifth was later transferred to the ICU.

The nature of their injuries and the units of each soldier were not released. Most of the jumpers were with the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, although a Polish unit also participated. Officials at the Hohenfels Army Health Clinic reported Wednesday that the most serious cases involved spinal, head and pelvis injuries.

Makle said 47 paratroops were injured out of 998 who jumped in two waves. Citing information from the Joint Multinational Readiness Center in Hohenfels, she said nine soldiers were airlifted to the hospital, 36 were transported by ground and one was treated on the field and released. She could not account for the other injured soldier.

Maj. Tim Chavis, the public affairs officer for the 173rd, said soldiers are encouraged to call their family members back home, whether injured or not.

Chavis, who is also in Hohenfels, said brigade officials are working with injured soldiers to ensure family members are notified. He said all soldiers in the hospital are conscious now and should be able to speak with family.

“We’d also like people to know that just because they haven’t been contacted right now doesn’t mean (their soldier) has been hurt,” he said.

The brigade has a unit in Grafenwöhr coordinating with the hospital and following the statuses of injured soldiers, he said. Chavis said many of the hospital admissions were precautionary.

Reached by phone Thursday, the executive officer of the clinic, 2nd Lt. Carrie Goodell, could not immediately provide final numbers of patients seen.

Makle said training officials were not planning to conduct a special inquiry into the jump, given the high number of jumpers and the small number of serious injuries.

“It’s almost 1 percent, and we feel really good about the training and that soldiers are performing well,” she said. “The unit is continuing to the next part of the exercise.”

A reporter present for the first wave of the jump counted eight parachutes caught in trees on the far side of the drop zone after the first pass from planes. Few, if any, paratroops from two subsequent passes appeared to land in the trees.

The exercise, involving 7,500 participants from 17 countries, including the 173 ABCT and the 1st Battalion, 4th Infantry Regiment, is the largest of its scope in Europe in a decade, according to organizers.

beardsleys@estripes.osd.mil

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