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A 21-year-old paratrooper from New York died this week during training, officials announced Wednesday.
Gansevoort, New York, native Spc. Abigail Jenks was part of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division. She was conducting a static-line jump from a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter at Sicily Drop Zone on Fort Bragg, North Carolina when the accident happened.
In a statement posted to Facebook, the 82nd Airborne Division issued a statement mourning the loss of Jenks.
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“Spc. Abigail Jenks was a creative, hardworking, and confident Paratrooper. Her love for art, animals, and her friends reverberated wherever she worked,” Capt. Brian Norman, Jenks’ battery commander, said in the statement posted to Facebook. “Her compassion for fellow Paratroopers will be truly missed.”
In an accompanying release, the division wrote that Jenks was a fire support specialist serving as a forward observer assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 1st Battalion, 319th Airborne Field Artillery Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team.
“Spc. Jenks was a dedicated Paratrooper, gifted forward observer, loyal friend, and talented artist who consistently made a tremendous impact on all around her. She will be dearly missed. We are ensuring every resource is available to her family and peers to help them during this difficult time,” Lt. Col. Christopher Walsh, commander of the 1-319th AFAR, said in the release.
The Army Times reported on Wednesday that a team from Army Combat Readiness Center had been dispatched to Fort Bragg on Tuesday to lead the investigation into Jenks’ death.
Jenks — a three-time volunteer — enlisted in the Army in October 2018 and was assigned to Fort Bragg in June 2019 after finishing advanced individual training at Fort Sill, and airborne training at Fort Benning.
She had previously received the Army Achievement Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Medal, Army Service Ribbon and the Army Parachutist Badge.
Lt. Col. Mike Burns told Fox News on Thursday that the Army will also posthumously award Jenks the Meritorious Service Medal.
“So, I can tell you that she was a three-time volunteer. That’s kind of a big thing for us and just being a paratrooper,” he said
Burns explained that typically members would jump out of C-17 aircraft at 12,000 feet.
“But, she actually happened to be jumping out of a helicopter, which was unique in itself,” he noted.
“So, it is the fact that she was, you know, brave enough to volunteer for all these things [that] speaks volumes — we think — to her dedication to the nation, to the unit and to the Army,” Burns said.
According to Albany’s Times-Union, Jenks is survived by her parents, three siblings and her fiancé, whom she was set to marry next year.
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On Wednesday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo directed flags on state government buildings to be flown at half-staff beginning Thursday in recognition of Jenks.
“On behalf of all New Yorkers, I extend our deepest sympathy to Spc. Abigail Jenks’ family and loved ones,” he said. “We are devastated by her loss and join her fellow soldiers, family and friends in honoring her service to our country.”
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