Parachutist Misses Target at Ft. Riley Ceremony, Hits Band

By: Photog ei
By: Photog ei

FT. RILEY ARMY POST (WIBW) A skydiver veered off course, disrupting a change of command ceremony at Ft. Riley Thursday morning and injuring himself and three band members.

The parachutist, Scott Hallock, was the second of a pair of civilian skydivers who were part of the official opening ceremonies. The first landed right on target. The second man, however, missed his landing spot and slammed into the last two rows of the Army band, knocking over band members and destroying instruments.

"You can't really hear anything when someone's overhead. Then at the last minute, you could hear some rustling," described WO3 Scott MacDonald. "That's what I heard, 'Oh expletive,' and then crash."

Hallock was going around 50 mph, MacDonald estimated, when he smashed feet-first into the sousaphone and trumpet players.

Sgt. Rachel Boggs was knocked unconscious and suffered a fractured jaw and Sgt. Andrew Spinazzola fractured an ankle in the collision, according to Lisa Medrano, a public affairs officer for Irwin Army Community Hospital. Both soldiers sustained other minor head and neck injuries as well. Staff Sgt. Mark Lucero also reportedly suffered a minor leg injury.

Mike Keating of the Fort Riley Fire Department said Hallock sprained his ankle and refused medical treatment. He added that two sousaphones were destroyed.

The performance was delayed for approximately a half hour. The 1st Division Band then regrouped and were able to continue with their opening performance despite the loss of a few instruments.

Despite worries that there weren't enough band members left to play, "we soldiered on, like we always do," MacDonald said.

The event was to honor the Major General Robert E. Durbin, the outgoing commander of the Army's 1st Infantry Division, the Big Red One. Gen. Durbin is leaving Ft. Riley for Washington, to work at the Pentagon. He is handing over the colors to new Commanding General Brigadier General Perry Wiggins.

Victory Park, a memorial dedicated to soldiers and veterans who have fought since World War One, was also scheduled to be dedicated during the ceremony. Over 400 veterans from the Big Red One are memorialized in stones at the park, next to division headquarters.

Tom and Romayne McGinnis will be there as a memorial stone is unveiled, to honor their son, Spc. Ross McGinnis, who was killed in action last December. He threw himself on a grenade that landed in his Humvee, according to Army reports. His actions are credited with saving the lives of four soldiers.

The man who will soon replace Gen. David Petraeus as the top commander of forces in Iraq, Lt. Gen. Raymond Odierno, is scheduled to be a guest speaker during a ceremony in which the new stones will be unveiled. Odierno is commander of Ft. Hood and III Corps.

The Associated Press contributed to this article


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