An investigation is ongoing into the death of a Mississippi Army National Guard soldier killed Monday evening during “a large-scale training exercise” at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, California.
Three other members of the 155th Armored Brigade Combat Team, headquartered in Tupelo, were injured. The 155th has members from all over the state.
Lt. Col. Christian Patterson, public affairs director for the Mississippi group, said Tuesday morning that the soldiers’ identities are being withheld while family members are notified.
On Tuesday afternoon, he wrote in an email all next of kin had been notified but did not release the name of the soldier who died.
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He said the soldier who died was assigned to the Senatobia-based 2nd Battalion, 198th Armored Regiment, and was one of four soldiers in an M1A2 Abrams tank that was involved in a rollover incident.
The three injured soldiers were transferred by military helicopter to the Loma Linda University Medical Center in California. By Tuesday evening, two had been released and one remained in stable condition.
He wrote: “The incident is still under investigation and we are following official military notification procedures regarding the deceased and injured soldiers. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of these Soldiers and our troops that continue to train in California.”
Tuesday morning, Patterson told the Sun Herald that 3,800 members of the 155th brigade arrived May 19 for training at Fort Irwin. He said training is scheduled to run through mid-June. Also participating are National Guard members from California, Missouri, and members of the Air Force.
“As of right now,” Patterson said, “operations are continuing, except for the unit that was involved with the incident.”
The brigade is nicknamed “Dixie Thunder.” Its insignia is pictured on the Operations Group, National Training Center Facebook page, along with photos posted Saturday of the training.
A post that accompanies a video posted Sunday said: “The training is reflective of the complexities of potential adversaries our nation could face and includes guerrilla, insurgent, criminal and near-peer conventional forces woven into one dynamic environment.”
Kenneth Drylie, spokesman for Fort Irwin, told the Associated Press the troops were doing an armored brigade combat team exercise, which emulates an overseas deployment to a war zone, and focused this week on maneuvering tanks. He said the training did not involve any live-fire exercises.
The center is one of the few places in the country with room for 10,000 troops to battle each other. It does 10 such training exercises a year with all branches of the military using the facility, Drylie said.
“It’s basically like a full deployment overseas,” he said, “except that it’s in the California desert.”
The Associated Press contributed to this story.