Ft. Campbell, KY Parachute Maneuver Accident, Apr 1958
TRAGIC PARACHUTE MANEUVER KILLS FIVE.
137 INJURED WHEN HIT BY GUSTS.
ARMY PLANS 2nd DROP SATURDAY.
Ft. Campbell, Ky. (AP) -- Army authorities planned to go ahead with another mass airborne drop Saturday on the heels of a tragic maneuver which killed five and hospitalized 137 paratroopers.
The paratroopers were tossed about the drop zone by treacherous and shifting wind gusts.
The victims, among nearly 1,400 taking part, were dragged across the rough drop zone by billowing parachutes which they were helpless to deflate. None of those hospitalized was believed in serious condition.
"The guy who collapsed my chute for me looked like Santa Claus at Easter time," said Sgt. 1/C DANIEL KLING, St. Louis, who suffered severe cuts and bruises.
"Guess I went clear across the drop zone."
The battle-trained soldiers making the jump were members of the 502nd Battle Group one of five such groups in the streamlined 101st Airborne Division. The 502nd is the aggressor force in Exercise Eagle Wing.
The other groups, acting as defenders, are scheduled to jump Saturday.
The five who were killed were blown against trees and rocks by the wind gusts or strangled by the suspension lines when they were unable to collapse their parachutes.
Maj. Gen. W. C. Westmoreland, 44, who assumed command of the 101st earlier this month, jumped with the 502nd, his 70th jump without injury, but he was dragged 300 feet across the ground.
"I just couldn't run as fast as my chute was going," he commented.