Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Freedom Isn’t Free: 3 Soldiers Die in Exercise

 
M2A3 Bradley Fighting Vehicle (photo by Shane A. Cuomo, U.S. Air Force, public domain)

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.

Published in Military
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There are 10 comments.

  1. Phil Turmel Coolidge

    Prayers for the soldiers and their families. Would that we could be reminded of the hazards our soldiers face without such tragedies.

    • #1
    • October 22, 2019, at 5:38 AM PST
    • 7 likes
  2. Susan Quinn Contributor

    Thank you for honoring their lives, Clifford.

    • #2
    • October 22, 2019, at 5:52 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  3. B. W. Wooster Member

    What a tragic loss. What a shining example. Godspeed them to their rest. And may He who holds the stars in his hands comfort their loved ones here – and forever.

    • #3
    • October 22, 2019, at 6:34 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  4. Boss Mongo Member

    God bless them.

    Willing to bet that they were the TC, gunner and driver. Getting out of an upside down, submerged Brad is nightmare enough. I can’t imagine trying to do it from the turret or driver’s compartment.

    • #4
    • October 22, 2019, at 8:07 AM PST
    • 7 likes
  5. Dominique Prynne Member

    Prayers for these families and all the military personnel that are out there training and doing their jobs. I have a dear, close family member who has made it through USMC OCS, the Basic School and is now in the Infantry Officer Class. The attrition rate is high. The training is brutal! I will save you all from losing your lunch by not posting the pictures he sent me of his bleeding, torn up feet due to being in the field for days and completing nearly 70 miles of hiking. This young man has the best attitude and is the biggest helper/protector. But even he said that the training he is going through is hell. I pray over his safety.

    • #5
    • October 22, 2019, at 9:21 AM PST
    • 6 likes
  6. Skyler Coolidge

    Rough men doing inherently dangerous things, but still a very sad happening.

    I’ve never ridden in a Bradley, but I’ve been inside them. I kind of like them. I suspect they aren’t very water proof if the loop holes for the rifles are open. I forget how those work.

    If I’m not mistaken, the Sergeant First Class is an E7. Typically in the Marine Corps that would be the rank of the company gunnery sergeant, the #2 enlisted man in a company and a platoon sergeant would be an E5 Staff Sergeant. So he should be even more senior than what I understand a platoon sergeant to be. Perhaps the army is different, they often are.

    It doesn’t take much to drive off the edge of a bridge, especially using night vision goggles. Very sad.

    • #6
    • October 22, 2019, at 9:55 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  7. Percival Thatcher

    God’s grace and peace to their families.

    • #7
    • October 22, 2019, at 10:26 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  8. Bruce Mamont Thatcher

    Skyler (View Comment):

    Rough men doing inherently dangerous things, but still a very sad happening.

    I’ve never ridden in a Bradley, but I’ve been inside them. I kind of like them. I suspect they aren’t very water proof if the loop holes for the rifles are open. I forget how those work.

    If I’m not mistaken, the Sergeant First Class is an E7. Typically in the Marine Corps that would be the rank of the company gunnery sergeant, the #2 enlisted man in a company and a platoon sergeant would be an E5 Staff Sergeant. So he should be even more senior than what I understand a platoon sergeant to be. Perhaps the army is different, they often are.

    It doesn’t take much to drive off the edge of a bridge, especially using night vision goggles. Very sad.

    The Army doesn’t have the equivalent of a company gunny. Each platoon has a platoon sergeant for which the table of organization authorizes a sergeant first class (pay grade E7). Bradleys were intended to swim, but many of us in Bradley battalions remember the history at the Normandy invasion of the M4 Sherman tanks equipped with a “swim kit” that seemed to inspire that of the Bradley. We didn’t relish the opportunity to swim our vehicles.

    • #8
    • October 22, 2019, at 1:05 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  9. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown Post author

    Bruce Mamont (View Comment):

    Skyler (View Comment):

    Rough men doing inherently dangerous things, but still a very sad happening.

    [..]

    It doesn’t take much to drive off the edge of a bridge, especially using night vision goggles. Very sad.

    The Army doesn’t have the equivalent of a company gunny. Each platoon has a platoon sergeant for which the table of organization authorizes a sergeant first class (pay grade E7). Bradleys were intended to swim, but many of us in Bradley battalions remember the history at the Normandy invasion of the M4 Sherman tanks equipped with a “swim kit” that seemed to inspire that of the Bradley. We didn’t relish the opportunity to swim our vehicles.

    Exactly so. 

    • #9
    • October 22, 2019, at 2:30 PM PST
    • 1 like
  10. Instugator Thatcher

    God bless and comfort their families. God receive them as his own.

     

    • #10
    • October 22, 2019, at 6:44 PM PST
    • 3 likes