Locals in Fayetteville, North Carolina, were shaken up when two paratroopers from nearby Fort Bragg missed their drop zone and ended up crashing into a neighborhood.
Special Forces paratroopers dropped from a CH-47 Chinook helicopter in windy conditions on Tuesday and were swept toward the residences.
Locals saw the paratroopers and many concerned citizens, realizing they weren’t on course, tried to track the men as they careened earthward.
One landed and sustained only minor injuries.
“Did anyone else see the paratrooper who got knocked off course in fort bragg??” local resident Maninoupuoleaiga Letuli-Nelson posted on Facebook. “We’re trying to find him but he was yelling for help.
“If you could, just say a prayer for him. I could only imagine how helpless he felt.. it’s nothing but trees around here and I already called 911.
“Update: he has been found and located safely 2 streets away. We hopped in the car and didn’t know what to do but to follow him.. I’m proud of our little community because our neighbors did the same. Prayers to him. To God be the glory.”
The other paratrooper crashed into the roof of a house, breaking part of the A-frame and sustaining serious injuries.
The house that the second paratrooper crashed into is owned by Anthony McClain, a former paratrooper and member of the Special Operations Command at Fort Bragg.
Will Jones was on his way home from work when he saw the paratroopers jump and drove to the street where the second one landed on the house.
“I [saw], like, the wind kind of, like, take him,” Will Jones told WRAL-TV. “And you could see he was trying to like maneuver himself in the air. Then I lost sight of him.”
“When I pulled up, that’s when I [saw] him laid on the ground. The parachute was out. There was a gentleman that was in fatigues helping him keep his neck still. A lady was there.”
The lady who was helping didn’t want to be named, but she said the paratrooper was in very rough shape, and they were doing all they could to keep him still.
“When I got there, there was another soldier there, and we were just kind of keeping him on his side,” she said. “You could hear he was struggling to breathe.”
McClain and some others believe the windy conditions added to the disaster and that it was unwise to continue the training.
“They shouldn’t have jumped,” McClain said. “It should have been called because it was a significant amount of wind. To the point where if it blew them from their drop zone to over here, it was a significant amount of wind.”
The 3rd Special Forces Group confirmed that they had been carrying out a training exercise using CH-47 Chinook helicopters and jump training, but declined to state whether or not the conditions that day were too dangerous to jump.
The less injured soldier was treated for minor injuries at the scene, and the other remains in critical but stable condition at the hospital.
According to WTVD-TV, Fort Bragg has temporarily suspended training and the incident is under investigation.
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