FORT RILEY, Kan. – A parachutist went off course Thursday at the start of a military review, dropped feet-first into the 1st Infantry Division's band and injured three members.
Several thousand people watched the first of two civilian parachutists land successfully, but the second one landed on the 30-member division band, about 50 yards off target. A gasp went up from the crowd, followed by silence as at least a dozen people rushed over to help.
"I hear, 'Oh, expletive,' and immediately, I hear a crash,"' said the band's commander, Chief Warrant Officer Scott MacDonald.
The three injured band members were treated and released from Irwin Army Community Hospital. The parachutist, Scott Hallock, refused treatment at the scene.
One band member, Sgt. Rachel Boggs, was knocked unconscious and had a fractured jaw, hospital spokeswoman Lisa Medrano said. Another, Sgt. Andrew Spinazzolla, suffered minor neck and head injuries and had a fractured ankle, Medrano said. The third, Staff Sgt. Mark Lucero, sustained what Medrano called a minor leg injury.
None of the injuries were life-threatening.
"We know that they're going to be all right," said Gen. Charles Campbell, head of the Army's Forces Command, which handles personnel, said during opening remarks for the ceremony.
MacDonald said band members were standing, waiting for the start of the ceremony and weren't looking up. He said they didn't hear anything except a brief rustling of the jumper's red, white and blue parachute just before he hit the band.
He hit the back row of the band, feet first, at about 50 mph, MacDonald said. He was about 50 yards from a grove of trees, buildings and tanks and armored personnel carriers on display.
"You can't hear anything when there's someone coming overhead," MacDonald said.
The two parachutists jumped from a small, single-engine plane at about 6,000 feet. Keating said the second jumper's parachute lines apparently became tangled, pulling him off course.
"Two tubas were destroyed," Keating said. Also, MacDonald said, a trumpet was damaged.
After the accident, MacDonald wondered briefly whether he had enough members left to perform or whether the band would have to resort to recorded music.
"We did soldier on," he said. The band played the division's and the Army's fight songs, then sounded a trumpet cavalry charge.
The band's history includes an incident known as "Thunder Road" from the Vietnam War, in which the 1st Division's commander ordered it to march and play over a mile-long stretch of highway separating American and North Vietnamese troops. The display confused the North Vietnamese troops and led them to withdraw without shots being fired.
"We might have to revise that 'Thunder Road' story with the parachute jump of 2008," MacDonald said.
The accident briefly delayed the start of a ceremony marking a change of command for the 1st Division and Fort Riley. The change occurred during the first "Victory Week" celebrating the 1st Division's history.
Following that event was the dedication of Victory Park, honoring veterans and soldiers who have fought and died in wars dating to World War I. The 1st Division is the Army's oldest, having formed in 1917.
Mechanical problems kept the dedication's featured speaker, Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, from flying to Kansas for the ceremony. Odierno is the new commander of U.S. forces in Iraq.