CADILLAC — The first thing Nick Meier said to his father, Jim, when he called him Thursday was, “Dad, I’m OK.‘
Jim said hearing his son speak those words made his heart skip a beat; it’s not something a parent expects to hear at 12:16 in the morning.
“You’re going to hear about this on the national news later today,‘ Nick said to his father.
Nick, a 20-year-old graduate of Cadillac High School who now serves as a specialist in the Army, was one of 87 soldiers who participated in a parachute training exercise in Mississippi, at Camp Shelby Joint Forces Training Center, Wednesday around 8 p.m.
Nick is part of the 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division. He was one of 650 soldiers jumping in to begin a 10-day training mission: Mission Arctic Anvil.
According to press releases issued by the Army, during their jump, the soldiers were blown off course by strong winds and landed in trees.
“During the training exercise, multiple Soldiers missed the drop zone due to unpredicted wind gusts, resulting in 22 injuries. Safety precautions were in place and medical personnel were prepositioned at the drop zone to ensure a quick reaction in the event of an accident ... Airborne Operations all bear an inherent risk. We strive to mitigate this risk as much as possible. Forrest General Hospital was notified prior to the jump of the potential influx of patients and the types of injuries to be expected and emergency vehicles were on standby on Camp Shelby prior to the jump.‘
Jim said his son told him he was among the soldiers who landed in trees.
“He said he heard a loud snap, which was a branch snapping,‘ Jim said. “They’re trained to use their reserve parachute (to help them get to the ground) in these types of situations but then he heard a second snap. That’s when he free fell about 20 feet to the ground.‘
Fortunately, Jim said Nick wasn’t injured in the fall and everyone in his platoon likewise was accounted for and didn’t suffer serious injuries.
The Army reported that none of the injuries were life-threatening.
During a subsequent press conference, Camp Shelby officials clarified that 23 soldiers were injured and four were still hospitalized as of Thursday night.
Jim said Nick couldn’t reveal too many details about the incident, which is still under investigation at this time.