Soldier remains in coma following heat-related medical emergency at Camp Shelby; family seeks answers

Guardsman remains in coma
Updated: Sep. 21, 2023 at 5:55 PM CDT

PINE BELT, Miss. (WDAM) - During triple-digit August temperatures, 18-year-old Colby Maury-Rice from Hattiesburg was training at Camp Shelby. It was just one day after an Illinois National Guard Soldier died after finishing a 2-mile run for the Army Combat Fitness Test in the same heat.

“Training should never be torture, and what was done to my son was torture,” said Maury-Rice’s father, Eddie Dockery. “It is 100 degrees outside. If it is that hot, don’t do physical training.”

Maury-Rice remains in a coma at Forrest General Hospital after his emergency.

The Sacred Heart graduate was going to combat medic school at Fort Sam Houston. His plans to serve our country followed in his father’s footsteps but down a different path. Dockery served in the Army.

“My teams were there to deal with people who were enemies of the United States, enemies of this great country,” said Dockery. “My son was going to save lives, and I thank the lord, the reason I am here is a combat army medic saved my life when I received this injury to my head.”

Dockery has plenty of questions about the Mississippi National Guard’s preparations.

After the incident, a Mississippi National Guard Spokesperson released the following statement:

Safety and Readiness are foundational standards for the Mississippi National Guard in every aspect of our training and mission execution. Saturday, August 12, one Soldier from the MSNG Recruit Sustainment Program, Detachment 3, Bravo Company was conducting training and familiarization of the Army Combat Fitness Test at Camp Shelby Joint Forces Training Center near Hattiesburg when he experienced symptoms of a heat injury. Two onsite cadre immediately assisted the Soldier to a shaded area and ensured he was drinking enough water. Post Security was immediately contacted requesting Ambulatory Assistance. After two minutes waiting on the ambulance, the Soldier’s condition seemed to worsen. Recruiting and Retention Battalion onsite cadre took immediate action loading the Soldier in a government van and escorted him to Forrest General Hospital for advanced medical assistance. The Soldier is currently receiving care at Forrest General Hospital.

Dockery wonders why medics were not on site with an ambulance ready during the heat.

“How do you give him CPR in a passenger van? How do you lay him in a position to give him CPR?” Dockery asked. “I am saying there was no preparation for what if something went wrong.”

A Mississippi National Guard spokesperson declined to comment on Dockery’s claims because of the ongoing investigation.

After the two August incidents, outdoor physical fitness training stopped during daylight hours. It’s a decision Dockery said should have been made sooner.

“He was under the impression they were there to protect him and prepare him for military service,” Dockery asked. “When he had not spoken a word in a month, he has not eaten a piece of food in a month, he has not been to the bathroom on his own in a month, because he believed the people from the Mississippi National Guard had his best interest.”

Dockery believes his son is making progress. He’s praying Colby will one day be stable enough to get additional care at a facility like the Shepard Center. While he waits for answers from the Mississippi National Guard, he promises to keep fighting for his son.

“If he needs a kidney, I told them he could have both of mine,” Dockery asked. “They work at 97% and I will take dialysis. I will give him both of my kidneys. I want him back and whatever I have to do to do that I will do it.”

Dockery’s worst fear is that his son will be placed in a VA Hospital or forgotten. He vows to make sure that doesn’t happen.

”I want the world to know they promised they would take care of my son and they damn sure are going to do it.”

Loved ones have been raising money for Maury-Rice’s medical bills. You can donate HERE.

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