ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - Earlier Thursday morning, doctors at Forrest General Hospital in Hattiesburg, Mississippi briefed the media on the status of the four soldiers remaining in their care- after a training exercise mishap on Wednesday evening. 650 Alaska-based paratroopers were in South Mississippi as part of "Operation Arctic Anvil."
Image from WLOX
According to Col. Christopher Landry, 87 of the soldiers participating in the jump came down between 300-400 yards away from the landing zone in a heavily wooded area.
"In my career, I've seen it about a half a dozen times where these many jumpers end up in the trees & each time it's different causation," Col. Landers told reporters during a press briefing on Thursday. When questioned about whether or not human error was a factor, he said: "Anything's a possibility, the investigation will let us know."
A flyover on Thursday afternoon showed bunches of parachutes still hanging in trees throughout the area. It's estimated that the last soldier to be rescued was stuck hanging from their jump gear for around 12 hours.
Dr. Duncan Donald treated the 23 soldiers that were transported to Forrest General Hospital, he says most of the injuries happened after the landing- when soldiers tried to free themselves from their gear.
"With it being dark ... it was difficult to tell how high they were," he said. "One soldier estimated he dropped 20-30 feet to the ground."
The names of the hospitalized soldiers have not been released, but the worst of the injuries should be healed within a 3-month period, according to the doctors' estimates. The rest of the training exercises planned as a part of "Operation Arctic Anvil" should go forward as scheduled.
"Obviously with injuries there's going to recovery periods that are longer based on individual recovery needs, but based what we've heard with the doctors and the communication we've had there, their recovery time looks good," said Public Affairs Officer Capt. Ashley Bain-Sangster at a Friday press conference.
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