National Guardsman dies, another in hospital during training

Soldiers with 2d Battalion, 20th Special Forces Group, 1st Special Forces Regiment, Mississippi Army National Guard, conduct Embassy Rescue training exercise, during Southern Strike 2023, at Camp Shelby Joint Forces Training Center, Mississippi, April 24, 2023. . (U.S. Army National Guard Photo by Staff Sgt. Shawn Keeton)

One US Army National Guardsman at Mississippi’s Camp Shelby is dead and another is hospitalized in what are being described as heat-related illnesses.

The Citizen Soldier who perished, who is part of the Illinois National Guard, reportedly became unresponsive on Friday during the 2-mile run portion of the Army’s standardized physical fitness test.

A spokesperson with the Mississippi National Guard -who oversees operations at Camp Shelby- told CNN that medics “reported symptoms associated with heat-related injuries” for both the dead soldier and the one injured on Saturday.

The second Guardsman is receiving care at Forrest General Hospital after experiencing “symptoms of a heat injury” during a training exercise on Saturday.

“Two onsite cadre immediately assisted the Soldier to a shaded area and ensured he was drinking enough water. After a few minutes, the Soldier’s condition seemed to worsen” a statement read.

Temperatures in the area peaked at 104 and 105 degrees Fahrenheit on Friday and Saturday, respectively.

Just as they are in arid overseas environments, heat casualties are a major problem when it comes to military operations in hot weather.

While “the show must go on,” servicemembers must take extra care to increase water and electrolyte intake while also protecting themselves from overexertion, creating a scenario that requires a delicate balance between work and recovery times, respectively.

The Mississippi National Guard stated that it is working around the clock to ensure that all personnel training at its facility are taken care of.

“Safety and readiness are paramount for the men and women serving in the MSNG,” the Mississippi Guard said in a statement. “Leaders are consistently evaluating weather conditions and performing risk assessments to measure and prevent further heat injuries to safeguard our service members and insure we are always ready and always there for the Mississippi communities in which we serve.”

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