Sounds like the jump master was a FU and maybe Roberts wasn’t in the right frame of mind for a night full equipment jump. They are different. GOD bless him.
Spc. Nicholas Roberts must have known his weapons case didn’t feel quite right.
The 27-year-old paratrooper asked the soldier jumping before him if his weapons case was positioned too low. The paratrooper told him to ask a jumpmaster, who is responsible for inspecting equipment before a jump.
The jumpmaster looked at Roberts’ weapons case and said it was correct.
Roberts, of 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, died during a training jump over Sicily Drop Zone on April 28.
investigators said improper rigging of his weapons case may have contributed to his death.
An investigation would later show that the jumpmaster team in place that night wasn’t properly trained to rig and inspect the weapons case.
Roberts was the 16th jumper on the right door for the second pass of a C-17
during the training jump at Fort Bragg
. It was the first time he was jumping at night with all of his equipment.
The paratrooper who jumped behind Roberts remembers him rotating on the platform of the aircraft as he exited. Roberts ended up backward, facing the inside of the aircraft as he jumped out.
His parachute inflated, but 90 minutes after the jump, no one could find Roberts on the ground.
A search party was formed, and 20 minutes later, paratroopers found his body on the drop zone.
He had a deep laceration to his neck.
Roberts, an automatic rifleman, died during the training jump over Sicily Drop Zone.
Two separate investigating bodies found different explanations for what happened. Both agree Roberts had an improper exit, but they disagree about what caused the bad exit.
In the Department of the Army’s investigation, known as a 15-6, the investigating officer said Roberts’ weapons case was protruding due to improper rigging and brushed against the aircraft door as he exited causing a bad exit. The investigation was obtained by The Fayetteville Observer through the federal Freedom of Information Act.
In the second investigation, the U.S. Army Safety Center based at Fort Rucker, Alabama
, indicated Roberts’ ruck sack brushed against the door causing his bad exit. The report hasn’t been released publicly, but it was reviewed by an Army official who spoke to the Observer, but was not authorized to comment publicly.
A WEAK EXIT
Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend, commander of Fort Bragg and the 18th Airborne Corps, released his findings in July: It’s clear Roberts had a weak exit that caused him to spin and make contact with the static line, but it’s inconclusive whether his weapons case or ruck sack struck the door, contributing to his bad exit.
The Army official familiar with the investigation said Townsend examined both reports before saying what caused the weak exit was inconclusive.
“The commanding general has the ability to review additional evidence to include evidence from other independent investigations that may not be fully available to the unit 15-6 investigator,” the source said. “In this case, a separate investigation agreed that a weak exit was the primary cause of this fatal accident, but determined a slightly different sequence of events that caused the weak exit. After reviewing both reports, the commander determined the exact sequence was impossible to know conclusively, and directed that pre-jump training across the 18th Airborne Corps would focus on improving proper door exits made by all paratroopers.”
The day after Roberts’ death, an investigating officer was appointed to look into what happened and produce the 15-6, which includes witness statements, photographs of Roberts’ damaged equipment and findings and recommendations from Townsend.
The initial findings from the Army’s report — dated May 13 — indicate Roberts’ weapons case was protruding due to improper rigging and brushed against the aircraft door as he exited. The improper exit caused the static line to wrap over his left shoulder, strangling him.
Before releasing the initial findings, the investigator watched a video of Roberts’ exit taken from inside the aircraft.
Someone took video on a smart phone, and although it was in violation of the airborne standard operating procedures, the investigator said it was “invaluable for investigative purposes.”
The video was slowed frame-by-frame and the investigator said when Roberts handed off his static line to the safety, his weapons case was positioned at an improper angle — nearly horizontal — as he turned to exit.
The weapons case was horizontal when Roberts moved his left foot toward the door, according to the investigation.
Roberts exited the aircraft backward, with his static line wrapping around his neck. The static line caused a deep laceration that medical experts would later say severed his left interior and external carotid arteries and left internal jugular. His spinal cord was separated resulting in internal decapitation within the first two seconds of exiting the aircraft, according to the report.
The Observer requested a copy of the report by the U.S. Army Safety Center, but it was not turned over by press time.