An elite special operations soldier who belonged to a secret unit died after his parachute failed to open properly during a free-fall training jump, the U.S. Army Special Operations Command said Friday, according to the Army Times.
Sgt. Maj. Christopher Nelms, 46, of Oklahoma City, was a member of the U.S. Army’s Delta Force. He died July 1 from injuries sustained from the June 27 jump at Laurinburg-Maxton Airport, N.C., reports say. His death was first reported by Yahoo News.
Nelms, who joined the Army in 1990, was a highly decorated soldier. He had deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan, the Philippines and Niger.
According to the Army Times, his awards include two Silver Stars, the Soldier’s Medal, six Bronze Star medals, one with the V device, two Defense Meritorious Service Medals, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Joint Service Commendation Medal with V device, two Army Commendation Medals, the Joint Service Achievement Medal with C device, the Afghanistan Campaign Medal with two Bronze Service Stars, the Iraq Campaign Medal with two Bronze Service Stars, and the Inherent Resolve Campaign Medal with one Bronze Service Star.
“Any free-fall jump has a great deal of risk,” said a former Delta operator told Yahoo News. “I don’t think people realize how risky jumps like that are, whether training or for real.”
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