Head trauma killed Ohio soldier in parachute jump

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - A soldier who was injured with four others in a parachuting accident died because of severe head trauma, autopsy results show.

Chief Warrant Officer 3 H. Roger Mills died Sunday, four days after he and the other soldiers caught a wind gust and hit the ground hard in a training exercise in Columbus, military officials said.

"Our heartfelt and deepest sympathies are with this soldier's family and friends," said Maj. Gen. David N. Blackledge, the commanding general of the U.S. Army Civil Affairs & Psychological Operations Command (Airborne).

Military officials on Monday were investigating how the soldiers were injured and whether a change to jumping procedure is needed. Injuries aren't uncommon in jumps, military officials say, but they're usually less serious, such as sprained ankles and scrapes.

Twelve soldiers have died in on-duty parachuting accidents since October 2001, Lt. Col. Gerald Ostlund said. Mills, 59, came from a military family: His father and brothers have served in various branches of the military, his brother Steve Mills said. Mills, of Groveport, served in Korea after he graduated from the U.S. Military Academy in 1973, West Point spokesman Frank DeMaro said. He also had served in Bosnia, Kosovo and Iraq, his brother said.

Mills was the jump master during the training exercise, meaning he was the last one to leave the plane and the last one to land, his brother said.

A spokeswoman for the Ohio National Guard declined to comment on Mills' role in the airborne operation, citing the ongoing investigation. The four other soldiers have been released from hospitals since their jumps at the Rickenbacker Air National Guard base, Ostlund said.

One was released Wednesday, two others were treated for concussions and minor scrapes and were released Friday and the fourth drove himself to a hospital Wednesday night to be treated for a broken elbow.

The soldiers were among 56 troops from the Guard and Army Reserve who jumped from a military cargo airplane flown by an Air Force Reserve unit out of Pittsburgh. The base at Rickenbacker is mainly a cargo airport that also has a charter passenger terminal. It's south of Columbus' main airport.

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