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Helicopter rescues Army paratroopers stuck in trees during windy Gettysburg training exercise

Windy weather rerouted paratroopers from their intended landing zone on Tuesday, with two needing to be rescued by a local helicopter company.
Credit: Credit: Crissy Brown

GETTYSBURG, Pa. — With sprawling fields and plenty of free airspace to go around, Gettysburg may just be the perfect place to conduct a paratrooper training exercise — that is, until the wind blows some of those paratroopers into nearby trees. 

The U.S. Army's 82nd Airborne Division faced some unexpected obstacles from Mother Nature on Tuesday afternoon. 

Paratroopers from the division set out into central Pennsylvania skies to practice the parachuting skills in which they specialize (according to the U.S. Army, the 82nd Airborne Division's mission is to respond to military operations anywhere in the world via parachute "within 18 hours of notification"). 

According to a media release from the Gettysburg Fire Department, the soldiers, who are based out of Fort Bragg, North Carolina, traveled to Gettysburg for the exercise. 32 paratroopers made two sets of jumps from two different military helicopters on Tuesday as part of their training.

However, windy weather had other plans for the soldiers, who were blown off course and redirected away from their intended landing zone.

Deputy Chief Scott McGonigal of Gettysburg Fire Department told FOX43 that six of the paratroopers participating in the training exercise became stuck in trees after the unplanned change of course, their parachutes tangled in the branches. 

According to McGonigal, four of them were able to descend on their own, but two needed rescuing with the help of local helicopter company Haverfield Aviation.

As seen in onlooker videos and photos provided to FOX43, a helicopter hovered over the stuck paratroopers and plucked them out of a tree via a rope that attached to the soldiers' backpack straps. 

McGonigal said no one was injured in the event. However, the Gettysburg Fire Department was on scene to help one paratrooper get out of a tree with a ladder and assist with removing parachutes from trees. 

The department responded along with several other local emergency response organizations just after 2 p.m.

See below for pictures of the event from Crissy Brown. 

Download the FOX43 app here. 

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