ATLANTA – The U.S. Army Ranger killed in an apparent parachuting mishap was a 21-year-old veteran from Massachusetts who recently returned from Afghanistan, officials said Saturday.
Pfc. Christopher P. Dona was found dead Thursday with parachute cords and canvas straps from a harness wrapped around his neck after a training jump at Fort Stewart in southeast Georgia. It was not immediately clear what caused the fatality. Army authorities are investigating.
An Army spokesman earlier said Dona's parachute seemed to work normally during the jump. When he landed, wind filled the parachute's canopy, dragging Dona about 350 feet along the ground. Dona was unconscious by the time fellow soldiers reached him.
Dona served in the 1st Battalion of the 75th Ranger Regiment based at Hunter Army Airfield in Savannah. He was a combat veteran who returned last month from his first deployment to Afghanistan.
"Chris was an excellent Ranger who consistently displayed great courage and strength -- a true warrior," Lt. Col. Robert J. Harman, the battalion commander, said in a statement. "He was the kind of Ranger everyone wants by their side in a tough situation."
A native of Dudley, Mass., Dona graduated from Shepherd Hill Regional High School. He enlisted in the Army in early 2012.
Dona's father, Paul, said his son was an all-star football player and never drank or used drugs.
"He was a good kid, really. He was a good kid and a smart kid," he said.