Fort Bragg Colonel Killed in Parachute Malfunction Accident

The officer killed was using the MC-6 parachute, not the Army's new T-11 square-shaped parachute.

By Kelly Twedell

On Wednesday morning Fort Bragg released the identity of the XVIII Airborne Corps soldier killed during a routine jump on Monday.

Army Col. Darron L. Wright, of Mesquite, Texas, the Corps Assistant Chief of Staff, G5, died while conducting a standard MC-6 parachute jump at Sicily Drop Zone.

“We are deeply saddened by yesterday’s events and our thoughts and prayers are with his family,” said Lt. Gen. Joe Anderson, commander of XVIII Airborne Corps and Fort Bragg. “The XVIII Airborne Corps has sustained the loss of a superb paratrooper and a magnificent officer who served with marked distinction and honor throughout his career.”

“The loss of this outstanding leader and patriot leaves a void in our team,” said Wright’s deputy, Lt. Col. Michael Moore. “The entire G5 team is saddened and shocked by this tragedy. We will truly miss his leadership, experience and energy.”

Onlookers at Fort Bragg's Sicily Drop Zone saw his parachute malfunction as he plummeted to the ground.

Observers and experienced jumpers described the malfunction as a cigarette roll.  
There are two types of malfunctions, total and partial. A cigarette roll malfunction is considered to be a partial malfunction, it provides no lift capability and the jumper must activate his reserve using the pull drop method.

One of the riggers on the drop zone said that Wright was using the MC-6 maneuverable troop parachute, not the issued T-11, but he did not know why. 

The MC-6 offers greater maneuverability, exceptional performance in high altitude drop zones and achieves a lower rate of descent compared to the previous MC-1 system. The MC-6 System has replaced all the MC-1 steerable troop parachutes in the US military. 

Wright, 46, graduated from the University of North Texas in 1991 and received his commissioned as an infantry officer through the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps.

Wright’s previous assignments include 1st Corps, Fort Lewis, Wash.; 4th Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, Fort Lewis, Wash.; 1st Battalion, 509th Parachute Infantry Regiment, Fort Polk, La.; 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Hood, Texas.

His awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal with V device, Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal with four oak leaf clusters, Army Achievement Medal with three oak leaf clusters, National Defense Service Medal with bronze service star, Iraqi Campaign Medal with campaign star, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Korean Defense Service Medal, Humanitarian Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Army Overseas Service Ribbon, Air Assault, Combat Infantry Badge, Expert Infantry Badge, Ranger Tab, and Senior Parachutist Badge.

 Wright is survived by his wife and three children.

The last Fort Bragg soldier to die in a parachute training accident occurred on June 25, 2011. Staff Sgt. Jamal Clay of the 82nd Airborne Paratrooper Division died when his parachute malfunctioned during a routine static line night jump at Fort Bragg's Sicily Drop Zone, using the Army's new square-shaped T-11 parachute.

John Rutter September 26, 2013 at 09:47 AM
Kelly, while I agree that implying it was suicide is rather absurd, I find it both amazing and interesting that you, as an editor, would reply with such disdain and so critically. It was rather rude as well as unprofessional, imho, to respond in the manner you chose. With that being said, there IS ample time to active your reserve parachute. Especially with the MIRPS, or the Soft-Loop Center Pull Reserve...just fyi...MIRPS stands for Modified Improved Reserve Parachute...they have are fit with a guide spring and weight to allow the chute to open within 50ft. So there is a really real question as to why there wasn't AT LEAST an attempt to activate the reserve. And before you attack me...I spent many years on status with the 82nd and have a jump log with jumps out the hooha to include jumping in Iraq as well as multiple types of aircraft. Rest Easy Airborne...
Christopher Perrin September 26, 2013 at 01:06 PM
Most people know this already that the parachute reserve is only a comfort item. Unless you can tell right at 4 seconds that you have a malfunction, your gonna hit the ground. While I do not agree with Mr. Rutter about ample time to pull your reserve, I do agree that you are very critically responding to your thread here. Also the first two people on here are just dumb. Anyhow...Unless you are totally focused even the most experienced jumper, or jumpmaster for that, will most likely hit the ground with out his reserve being fully deployed. ......To the editor....Go to the advanced airborne school ...located on Fort Bragg, and get a class on how the reserve works, the altitude we jump at, and what each system does. Rest Easy Airborne Brother, and Brothers.
Kelly Twedell September 26, 2013 at 04:34 PM
Thanks, John & Chris. Somebody from the Airborne did call me and provide me basic talking points - I did not want to go too 'in the weeds'. Still waiting for the final report out from Ft. Bragg.
Tommy Brasington September 27, 2013 at 01:01 AM
I am curious to know where the inference comes from that his reserve was not pulled?? COL Wright was my commander in the 509th and a very close personal friend, and I normally don't feel the need to answer posts like this one, but really?? No where in the article did the author imply that his reserve was not pulled. Furthermore, COL Wright was a jumpmaster and, trust me, knew what he was doing as he did it for a LONG time. I want to address Paul Cigna on his point...I don't fault you for the question, at least in the sense that to anybody who simply reads this article and does not know him, it is a valid question. But consider what the question might do to those that DO know him. It is absolutely absurd that before any definitive facts are known, you jump right to a conclusion. Finally, he would have NO control over whether his main chute opened at all, so what kind of conclusion could you possibly jump to that would lead you to believe that the question was 1) relevant and 2) appropriate? Good GOD, use some discretion.


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