FORT BENNING, Ga. — All parachute jumps have been temporarily suspended at Fort Benning while the Army investigates what witnesses are calling a “gory” death, Duffel Blog has learned.
Sources say Pvt. Doug Atkins, 19, of Delta Co., 1-507th Parachute Infantry, was a rookie on a routine training jump. “He was so frightened, he was shaking,” Airborne Instructor Staff Sgt. Cletus McCue said.
“It was routine. The engines were roaring, so I had to shout to ask everybody if they were happy, and he said yes like the others, though he was pretty meek about it,” McCue said. “Then I stood them up for their equipment checks, and he tightened his pack a little. When the light went green, he jumped.”
Private Mo Dwyer, who went out shortly after Atkins, said he wasn't sure if his static line was hooked. "I’m pretty sure he was counting, though. It’s hard to hear up there, but he was loud. After my chute deployed, he just kept dropping. It was awful.”
Sources on the ground later saw Atkins reserve chute begin to deploy but the silk just wrapped around his legs.
“After that, he just got wrapped and tangled up in everything," said Capt. DeSean Baker. "The canopy looked like a blanket or a shroud or something. He just dropped, man. I mean, he hurtled all the way to the ground.”
Atkins apparently spent his last moments thinking about his girlfriend back home, whom he’d left behind while attending jump school. He somehow managed to send her a three letter text message, which read “ILY."
An ambulance was prepositioned near the drop zone, and Atkins hit a spot near it, witnesses said. The sound of impact was described as "a big ‘SPLAT!’” and blood spurted all over the area, including on to the top of the ambulance. Incredibly, Atkins seemed to have briefly survived the impact, rolling around in the mess.
Other witnesses described the scene in gruesome detail. Witnesses indicated that the parachute risers were soaked in blood, some brain tissue had gotten onto the parachute, and he was partially eviscerated.
“He was a mess,” said fellow rookie paratrooper Nick Summers. “They pretty much picked him up and poured him out of his boots.”
“I tell you what though,” Summers added. “That kid ain’t gonna jump no more.”
At press time, Atkins’ comrades agreed with Summers and concluded it was "a hell of a way to die.”