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Soldiers Injured as Severe Weather Strikes Mississippi Base

By Capt. Christopher J. Heathscott, USA
Special to American Forces Press Service

CAMP SHELBY JOINT FORCES TRAINING CENTER, Miss., March 4, 2008 – Fourteen soldiers with the Arkansas National Guard's 39th Infantry Brigade Combat Team were injured last night when severe weather passed through Camp Shelby.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Army Lt. Col. James Treece, commander of 217th Brigade Support Battalion, stands next to wreckage of a barracks at Camp Shelby Joint Forces Training Center, Miss., March 3, 2008. Severe weather damaged the barracks and injured 14 soldiers with the Arkansas National Guard's 39th Infantry Brigade Combat Team. Photo by Maj. Craig Heathscott, USA
  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

Injuries were mainly limited to minor cuts and bruises, with one soldier suffering a more severe, yet non-life-threatening injury, officials said.

At about 11 p.m., an unconfirmed tornado passed through the post just south of Hattiesburg, Miss., seriously damaging a barracks building, which housed soldiers from the 39th's 1st Battalion, 153rd Infantry, units based in Mena, DeQueen and Sheridan, Ark.

The building's roof was partially blown away by strong winds, with the remainder collapsing on several soldiers inside. The 39th's soldiers from neighboring barracks quickly responded with a search-and-rescue effort and established triage.

Along with the battalion's physician assistant, the 39th's medics and combat lifesavers who came to the scene to help actually outnumbered the injured soldiers. Civilian emergency officials arrived in short order and were able to quickly get the soldiers transported to the local hospital, where all 14 were treated and released.

Brigade officials confirmed all soldiers have been accounted for and that the families of the injured soldiers have been notified.

A complete damage assessment to the post is expected to take place today.

The 39th, with headquarters in Little Rock, is conducting mobilization training at Camp Shelby in preparation for an upcoming deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The brigade will conduct a farewell ceremony March 6, with deployment overseas later in the month.

(Army Capt. Christopher J. Heathscott is the public affairs officer for 39th Infantry Brigade Combat Team.)

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