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The Bradley Fighting Vehicle is a tall, boxy, tracked, lightly armored vehicle designed to carry a small squad of soldiers while a driver, vehicle commander (squad leader) and gunner maneuver and fight the vehicle. It looks a bit like a tank because it has a turret with a 25mm rapid fire cannon, which can kill peer vehicles but not tanks, due to heavier armor. A unit was out training at night, when a Bradley slipped or got one of its tracks too far over the edge of a bridge in the Fort Stewart, Georgia, maneuver areas. Three of the crew died in the accident and several others were injured.
When the Bradley went off the bridge, it fell upside down into a creek, with running water. Vehicle rollover is a known danger, even for all armored vehicles. There is a standard reaction every crew member practices repeatedly, drilling a response designed to keep you inside and not crushed. If this crew reacted perfectly, and the accident investigators will look into every possible cause, they still found themselves upside down in the middle of the night in water.
Here are the three American soldiers who died in training, who just made the latest payment on the high price of our freedom:
The Army identified the soldiers who died as Sgt. 1st Class Bryan Jenkins, 41, of Gainesville, Florida; Cpl. Thomas Walker, 22, of Conneaut, Ohio; and Pfc. Antonio Garcia, 21, of Peoria, Arizona.
The soldiers belonged to the 1st Armored Brigade of the Fort Stewart-based 3rd Infantry Division. Aguto said the deadly crash happened shortly before 3:30 a.m. Sunday as the brigade was training for a rotation early next year at the Army’s National Training Center in California.
Notice the age differences. The sergeant had the age and rank of a platoon sergeant, responsibility for training four squads, four of these vehicle crews, to work together. He may well have trained and fought on Bradleys for two decades. Yes, this was in the States, at their home base, and on a weekend. Training in these units is not 9-5, Monday-Friday. They were preparing to go to the premier Army training facility in the world, like a football team preparing for a football playoff game. As the U.S. Army Combat Readiness Center describes tactical safety:
Tactical operations conducted in a local training area, Joint Training Center, and in theater are inherently hazardous to Soldiers. All tactical operations involve placing individuals in and around large equipment, weapons systems, and difficult terrain. When you have steel, flesh, and difficult terrain, you have a recipe for severe injuries or loss of lives.
May God comfort the families and friends of the fallen and grant healing to the injured.