Skip to comments.Marine, 21, Killed During Training Exercise East Of Palm Springs
Posted on 09/17/2013 9:13:40 PM PDT by BenLurkin
TWENTYNINE PALMS (CBSLA.com) A Camp Pendleton-based United States Marine was killed and three others were injured on Monday when a tank caught fire during a training exercise east of Palm Springs.
Corporal Nick Sell, 21, was killed when the tank he was in reportedly caught fire during an exercise at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in Twentynine Palms.
The three other Marines involved in the accident received emergency care. A nearby fire station was reportedly called to provide assistance around 11:42 a.m., arriving shortly after noon.
Sells cousin, Petty Officer 3rd Class Matt McMahon, serving in the United States Coast Guard in Monterey, says Sell was dear to the entire family, and described the incident as surreal.
He loved greatly, and was loved the same, Petty Officer McMahon said.
Corporal Sell was deployed to Afghanistan in 2012, and spent seven months there on duty.
Nick was a selfless and loving person, Sells cousin Colleen said. Everyone called him brother. He was always volunteering to help with anything or be there for anyone USMC, family, or friend-related. He held the titles of Corporal, Eagle Scout, son, brother, uncle, grandson, nephew, cousin and friend roles that are now void in so many lives.
Sell began spending more time at his cousins home in Carlsbad when he was conveniently stationed just miles away at Camp Pendleton at about the same time McMahon left the home to join the Coast Guard.
Just at that time, Nick entered our lives in a way only God could have arranged, Sells uncle Joe McMahon said. Nick got stationed at Camp Pendleton, just 12 minutes from our home, and just in time to help fill the empty hole left where my son Matt once resided. Nick brought healing to our damaged souls every weekend he was here, minus his Afghanistan tour.
Sell is survived by his parents Randy and Kathy, and his brothers Jeff and Beau Macy.
The family says the accident is under investigation.
Tanks are death traps...
Armor sucks...and make real easy targets.
During live fire, all crew members are supposed to wear nomex coveralls. When the base plate (or "afcap") for each round is ejected, it hits a deflector and drops it into a contained area on the turret floor. Loaders are not supposed to "lap load" a round, i.e. hold a main gun round while the main gun is being fired, but are supposed to draw a fresh round from the ammo storage compartment only after the afcap from the previous round has hit the floor.
If all these are observed, things are generally safe, but there's a lot of room for error. Sometimes, the deflector is not properly installed, and a hot afcap can be loose in the turret. If it touches a main gun round, there will be trouble. On rare occasion, a sweating round my incompletely be consumed and smolder in the tube and if the breech is dropped, the fresh air rushing in will cause a turret flare back. Of course, if the crew is not wearing their nomex any of the above dangers will be greatly magnified.
Since apparently all four crewmen suffered injuries, that would include the driver who is generally shielded from such turret problems. Moreover, the Abrams is equipped with a halon fire suppression system which should usually safeguard against sever fires.
Until this is all figured out, prayers for those involved and their families.
29 Palms in in the high desert and Palm Springs is in the low desert.
Camp Pendelton, 29 Palms is north east of 29 Palms.
My son witnessed this. He is very upset at this poor boy’s horrible death. It sounds as though there were many elements of this exercise that were a monstrous screw-up.
You went to a great deal of trouble to write about the Abrams, for which we are all grateful, but the vehicle in this tragedy was not a tank: it was an AAV. That may make a difference to the analysis.
All armor is a death trap; just big moving targets, ask any body in a 08 MOS.
Thanks...my bad for seeing the word ‘tank’ in the article and assuming the media knew of what they wrote.
An old friend of mine was an armor driver in Germany back during the cold war days. If conflict with Russia started he knew his life expectancy 0.
#3 was good stuff anyway!
I am not military, so my boy had to clarify this point for me at length when he was communicating with me, trying to cope with his feelings over witnessing this horror.
This was his first experience of death, and it was a bad one to see. He is shocked and grieved that he was powerless to help, even while it went on for a long time. My words are no consolation; he needs to hear from a man with military experience. If anyone has something to offer I would be grateful.