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Paratrooper, 21, is killed in training exercise at Fort Bragg during static line jump

A paratrooper, 21, has been killed in a training exercise at Fort Bragg during a static line jump from a Blackhawk helicopter, moments after she posted a smiling selfie on social media preparing to board the aircraft. 

Spc. Abigail Jenks, a paratrooper assigned to the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, died Monday during a routine training jump at the North Carolina army base. 

Fort Bragg officials released her identity Wednesday, saying Jenks was originally from Gansevoort, around 50 miles north of Albany, New York, and had joined the Army in October 2018. 

Few details have been released about the accident, as the investigation continues.   

Spc. Abigail Jenks pictured in a selfie posted on her social media story just before the fatal parachute jump

The paratrooper, 21, (pictured) was killed in a training exercise at Fort Bragg during a static line jump from a Blackhawk helicopter Monday

The paratrooper, 21, (pictured) was killed in a training exercise at Fort Bragg during a static line jump from a Blackhawk helicopter Monday

Jenks was conducting a static line jump from a UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter when she suffered the fatal injury, officials said in a press release.  

Lt. Col. Mike Burns told DailyMail.com the airborne training exercise had been running as normal prior to tragedy striking.  

‘It was a normal line jumping operation. They were jumping from a helicopter instead of an airplane,’ he said. 

Burns said the usual processes were followed with the manifest call, followed by the pre-jump training which includes the rehearsal.

‘She then executed the jump and that’s when the fatality happened,’ he said.   

The Army have not revealed whether Jenks was killed due to a parachute malfunction or if there was another reason for her death.

During a static line jump, the parachutist jumps solo from the aircraft.  

A cord is attached to the inside of the aircraft on one end and the top of the skydiver’s deployment bag on the other.

As the skydiver falls away from the plane, the cord is pulled taut, pulling the chute out of the deployment bag, activating it almost instantly. 

Jenks, a paratrooper assigned to the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, died Monday during a routine training jump at the North Carolina army base (above)

Jenks, a paratrooper assigned to the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, died Monday during a routine training jump at the North Carolina army base (above)

Fort Bragg officials released her identity Wednesday, saying Jenks (right) was originally from Gansevoort, around 50 miles north of Albany, New York

Fort Bragg officials released her identity Wednesday, saying Jenks (right) was originally from Gansevoort, around 50 miles north of Albany, New York

She had joined the Army in October 2018 before becoming a paratrooper in June 2019

She had joined the Army in October 2018 before becoming a paratrooper in June 2019 

WHAT IS A STATIC LINE JUMP? 

During a static line jump, the parachutist jumps solo from the aircraft.  

A cord is attached to the inside of the aircraft on one end and the top of the skydiver’s deployment bag on the other.

As the skydiver falls away from the plane, the cord is pulled taut, pulling the chute out of the deployment bag, activating it almost instantly. 

This type of jump involves a very short free fall before the chute is deployed and is often used for jumps from lower heights of around 1,000 feet (305 meters) or less.

This type of jump involves a very short free fall before the chute is deployed and is often used for jumps from lower heights of around 1,000 feet or less. 

A team from the Army Combat Readiness Center at Fort Rucker, Alabama, headed to Fort Bragg Tuesday to head up the probe into her death. 

Jenks’ mother Mary Jenks told WNYT she couldn’t believe her daughter had gone when an army representative and a chaplain knocked on her door to break the news of her death Monday.

She said her daughter knew what she wanted to do with her life. 

Army officials paid tribute to Jenks as a ‘gifted forward observer, loyal friend, and talented artist’ who will be ‘dearly missed’. 

‘Spc. Jenks was a dedicated Paratrooper, gifted forward observer, loyal friend, and talented artist who consistently made a tremendous impact on all around her,’ said Lt. Col. Christopher Walsh, commander of the 1-319th AFAR.

‘She will be dearly missed. We are ensuring every resource is available to her family and peers to help them during this difficult time.’

Jenks’ battery commander Capt. Brian Norman described her as ‘a creative, hardworking, and confident paratrooper’ with a ‘love for art, animals, and her friends reverberated wherever she worked. 

‘Her compassion for fellow Paratroopers will be truly missed,’ he added. 

The 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, also spoke out about her death on social media.

‘Paratroopers never die, they just slip away,’ they tweeted.   

Governor Andrew Cuomo also paid tribute to the New York native and ordered flags to be flown at half staff across state buildings in her honor from Thursday. 

‘New York is devastated by the loss of Spc. Abigail Jenks and joins her fellow soldiers, her family and her friends in honoring her service to our country,’ Cuomo tweeted.   

In a statement, the governor extended his sympathy to ‘Jenks’ family and loved ones’. 

Army officials paid tribute to Jenks, tweeting that 'Paratroopers never die, they just slip away'

Army officials paid tribute to Jenks, tweeting that ‘Paratroopers never die, they just slip away’

Governor Andrew Cuomo also paid tribute to the New York native and ordered flags to be flown at half staff across state buildings in her honor from Thursday

Governor Andrew Cuomo also paid tribute to the New York native and ordered flags to be flown at half staff across state buildings in her honor from Thursday

Jenks was a fire support specialist serving as a forward observer in Headquarters and Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 1st Battalion, 319th Airborne Field Artillery Regiment, 3rd BCT.

A three-time volunteer, she then enlisted in the US Army in October 2018 before completing advanced individual training at Fort Sill, Oklahoma and the Basic Airborne Course at Fort Benning, Georgia.

She was then assigned to Fort Bragg as a paratrooper in June 2019. 

Despite serving for little over two years, Jenks was highly decorated with awards including the Army Achievement Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Medal, Army Service Ribbon, and the Army Parachutist Badge.

She will be posthumously awarded the Meritorious Service Medal.

The 21-year-old is survived by her parents.

A paratrooper jumps from a UH-60 Blackhawk in a static line jump. The yellow cord is seen attached to the aircraft and the top of the skydiver's deployment bag, meaning when they fall the chute will be released

A paratrooper jumps from a UH-60 Blackhawk in a static line jump. The yellow cord is seen attached to the aircraft and the top of the skydiver’s deployment bag, meaning when they fall the chute will be released 

This marks the second death in less than a year among the 82nd Airborne Division, after another paratrooper died during jump training back in September at Fort Stewart, Georgia. 

Pfc. Jean Cruz De Leon, 20, died on September 9 when his parachute malfunctioned during an airborne training exercise at the base.  

The outcome of the investigation into Leon’s death is also yet to be released by the Army.  

A total of 13 soldiers died during parachute training between 2010 and 2015 with most taking place during static line jumps from C-17 Globemaster aircraft, according to the Aerospace Medical Association.

A third of the deaths were attributed to ‘improper or abnormal exit’ and ‘unstable or improper body position’, 11 percent from ‘entanglement, parachute malfunction’ and ‘dragged on top of the drop zone,’ and 6 percent from static-line injuries or drop-zone hazards. 

More than two thirds – 69 percent – of deaths cited blunt force trauma as the cause. 


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