82nd Airborne Soldier Dies During Training in Georgia

September 11, 2020Joshua Skovlund
PFC Cruz. Photo courtesy of the 82nd Airborne Facebook.

PFC Cruz. Photo courtesy of the 82nd Airborne Facebook.

A soldier died during a training event at Fort Stewart, Georgia, the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne announced via Facebook on Thursday.

“Pfc. Jean Cruz De Leon, 20, was participating in airborne training onto Galahad Drop Zone at Fort Stewart, Georgia, when he died,” reported Army Times. “Army officials provided no other details about the malfunction except to say that the incident is under investigation.” The reported cause of death was a “static-line parachute malfunction.”

Cruz joined the US Army out of Marrero, Louisiana, in May 2019 and was assigned to his first duty station of Fort Bragg, North Carolina, in October 2019. He was a grenadier and a radio-transmitter operator. Cruz was assigned to Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, at the time of his death.

“Cruz was a great Soldier, always made everyone laugh when everyone was down, constantly raising the team’s morale. He consistently strived to better himself and was always there for his battle buddies,” said Spc. Brandon Arnold, weapons squad team leader, in the Facebook release.

US Army soldiers from 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, prepare to board a C-130 Globemaster in preparation for an airborne operation at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, July 23, 2015. Photo by Staff Sgt. Alex Manne, courtesy of DVIDS.

Cruz’s platoon leader, 2nd Lt. Michael Vecchio, said in the same release, “Pfc. Cruz wanted to learn as much as he could when he assumed the role as RTO. Whenever he was given a task he would go out and find the answers just so he could learn his craft. He consistently surrounded himself around subject matter experts.”

Serving in the military within an airborne unit is naturally dangerous and carries inherent risks. The Journal of Aerospace Medicine and Human Performance conducted a study evaluating the number of US military airborne-related deaths from January 2010 to December 2015. They concluded that the most common recorded cause of death was “improper or abnormal exit” and “unstable or improper body position.” Other causes listed include “‘entanglement,’ ‘parachute malfunction,’ and ‘dragged on the drop zone.’” The least common cause of death is listed as “‘static line injury,’ ‘lost or stolen air,’ and ‘drop zone hazard.’”

The 82nd Airborne Public Affairs officials did not respond to requests for further information at the time of publication.

Joshua Skovlund
Joshua Skovlund

Joshua Skovlund is a former staff writer for Coffee or Die. He covered the 75th anniversary of D-Day in France, multinational military exercises in Germany, and civil unrest during the 2020 riots in Minneapolis. Born and raised in small-town South Dakota, he grew up playing football and soccer before serving as a forward observer in the US Army. After leaving the service, he worked as a personal trainer while earning his paramedic license. After five years as in paramedicine, he transitioned to a career in multimedia journalism. Joshua is married with two children.

More from Coffee or Die Magazine
Medal of Honor is held up.
Biden Will Award Medal of Honor to Army Helicopter Pilot Who Rescued Soldiers in Vietnam Firefight

Biden will award the Medal of Honor to a Vietnam War Army helicopter pilot who risked his life to save a reconnaissance team from almost certain death.

dear jack mandaville
Dear Jack: Which Historic Battle Would You Want To Witness?

Ever wonder how much Jack Mandaville would f*ck sh*t up if he went back in time? The American Revolution didn't even see him coming.

west point time capsule
West Point Time Capsule Yields Centuries-Old Coins

A nearly 200-year-old West Point time capsule that at first appeared to yield little more than dust contains hidden treasure, the US Military Academy said.

Ouija Board aircraft carrier
Low-Tech ‘Ouija Boards’ Have Helped Aircraft Carriers Operate for Decades

Since the 1920s, a low-tech tabletop replica of an aircraft carrier’s flight deck has been an essential tool in coordinating air operations.

Army vs. Navy mascot
The Navy Goat vs. the Army Mule: Mascot Origin Stories

For nearly as long as the Army-Navy football rivalry, the academies’ hoofed mascots have stared each other down from the sidelines. Here are their stories.

ukraine long-range weapon
Zelenskyy Says Ukraine Has Developed a Long-Range Weapon, a Day After Strike Deep Inside Russia

Zelenskyy said on his Telegram channel the weapon was produced by Ukraine’s Ministry of Strategic Industries but gave no other details.

7 of the Best Movie Ambush Scenes of All Time

Ambushes make for great action scenes. Here are seven of the best to ever grace the big screen.

  • About Us
  • Privacy Policy
  • Careers
Contact Us
Contact Us
© 2023 Coffee or Die Magazine. All Rights Reserved