Fort Bragg paratrooper dies in training operation in Georgia, officials say

Cumberland County News

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WNCN) – A paratrooper assigned to Fort Bragg died in a training operation on Wednesday, Fort Bragg officials announced Thursday.

Pfc. Jean Cruz De Leon, 20, of Marrero, Louisana, was an infantryman assigned to Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division.

The incident happened when Cruz De Leon’s parachute malfunctioned while participating in an airborne training operation at Fort Stewart, Georgia, officials said.

“Pfc. Cruz De Leon was a dedicated Soldier who believed in continuously honing his craft and contributing every day to our mission. He was an outstanding Paratrooper and friend whose actions assisted with the success of our unit. We are ensuring every resource is available to his family and peers to help them during this difficult time,” said Lt. Col. Matthew Molly, commander of the 1st Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment.

Cruz De Leon was assigned as a grenadier and radio-transmitter operator (RTO) for Alpha company, officials said.

“Pfc. Cruz quickly assimilated and was eager to learn once he joined Alpha Company. He was a positive addition and influence to the team,” said Capt. Charles McDonald, Alpha Company Commander.

“Cruz was a great Soldier, always made everyone laugh when everyone was down, constantly raising the team’s morale. He consistently strived to better himself and was always there for his battle buddies,” said Spc. Brandon Arnold, Weapons Squad Team Leader.

2nd Lt. Michael Vecchio, Platoon Leader, stated, “Pfc. Cruz wanted to learn as much as he could when he assumed the role as RTO. Whenever he was given a task he would go out and find the answers just so he could learn his craft. He consistently surrounded himself around subject matter experts.”

Cruz De Leon, a three-time volunteer, enlisted in the U.S. Army in May of 2019 and reported to his first duty assignment at Fort Bragg, N.C. in October of 2019. His awards and decorations include the Army Commendation Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Medal, Army Service Ribbon, and the Army Parachutist Badge.

He is survived by his parents.

The incident is currently under investigation, according to officials.

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