Skip to comments.Human error blamed in deaths of 7 Marines during training
Posted on 05/29/2013 12:16:05 PM PDT by The KG9 Kid
(CNN) -- Human error is to blame for a mortar round explosion that killed seven U.S. Marines and injured eight other service members during a training exercise in Nevada this year, the Marines said on Wednesday.
An investigation of the March 18 incident at Hawthorne Army Depot revealed that "the Marines employing one of the mortars did not follow correct procedures, resulting in the detonation of a high explosive round at the mortar position," the Marines said in a statement.
"The investigation also determined that the mortar section had not conducted appropriate preparatory training leading up to" the nighttime training session, the Marines said.
The mortar system itself functioned properly, the investigation determined.
(Excerpt) Read more at cnn.com ...
They'd evidently dropped in an impact-fused HE round, it didn't fire (as expected) because the gun was set to only fire when manually triggered. They called rounds complete, then later went on to the illumination mission while the unfired HE round was still in the tube. When the dropped the illum round, it didn't fire, so the gunner pulled the trigger...
May the families of these Marines find solace for the loss they have experienced.
Rest in Peace Marines
Just like the tornado in OK and the collapsed bridge in WA.
Nice explanation. Reminds us how serious/deadly training is... Most folks don’t appreciate how dangerous it is just to put on the uniform and go to work every day. I know I didn’t when I was younger.
Oh, isn’t that too bad.
Would you care to explain your comment?
when 7 people die, it may be an accident... but somebody is responsible for that accident. Especially in the Marine Corps. Same as a ship that runs aground. Just sad if that was the case. That’s why “attention to detail” is literally POUNDED into your brain housing group from day one. Just a sad thing all around.
That's part of why they thrashed the whole chain of command.
The thing about being in charge in the military is that it doesn’t matter if it was your FAULT. The bottom line is you are RESPONSIBLE. It is why the services, despite many well publicized failures and accidents, are the most trusted institutions in the U.S. Being a leader in the U.S. Military means you put your reputation and career on the line every day you get up, put on your uniform and walk out the door. To your point though, I can not think of a General Officer who has been relieved for anything other than personal misconduct in the recent past. I’m sure there is an example I Just can’t think of one...
I was under the impression that fuses aren’t actually set until the round leaves the tube.
To take the points you both make, let's say that range had been in sue for many years, configured exactly the same way, and what, tens of thousands of Marines had gone through the course, with exactly the same training standards and specifications, with nary ONE fatality..and now..all of a sudden, it's a command failure due to improper training and leadership? It may be, but we don't know..if we create a culture of zero-tolerance for training incidents..in which the price for such an event is your career, then it's gonna end up costing many more lives in combat..you train like you fight, you fight like you trained..
Not precisely. Yes, there is an inertia trigger to allow the round to get safely away before the firing train is aligned; however, placing another round on top of that fuse could (and apparently did) defeat that safety mechanism by providing inertia and contact simultaneously. It could also have simply caused the fusing to mechanically fail.
Same here. I assumed that even though it was an impact fuse that it had to attain a certain altitude or spin in order to ultimately arm the fuse?
Seem like a mistake that is too easy to make. I’d call that a system designer failure, not an operator failure.
It is too bad that they were young and didn’t probably pay enough attention to their training to do their jobs correctly and carefully. Spoken as a mom.
People are dead. Show some respect.
Sounds like your disdain for the armed forces didn’t get left behind upon your conversion to conservatism. That is what I read into your posting.
“The investigation also determined that the 60 mm mortar functioned properly and that the weapon system is safe when used as designed by properly trained Marines. The mortars are back in use after training on them was suspended following the accident, officials said.”
Oh, you misunderstand. I very much love and support the armed forces. I think you misread me/ or I did not write carefully. There’s not spit left from my liberal years beyond disdain.
in my 107mm mortar platoon, the rounds had a shotgun shell in the bottom which was set off by a firing pin at the bottom of the tube. if this is the case here the second round would have hit the nose of the first round setting the second round off early
‘Scuze me -
I am sorry these young men died.
I admire them for joining the service
My heart breaks for them, for their families.
I know nothing about munitions or the details of this accident.
I am so sorry they died.
I learned as a sailor going through weapons training at Camp Pendleton in the late 60s just how human error can occur.
A Navy Ensign though a mortar round would work just fine if it was dropped into a mortar tube with the fins up.
The Ensign rolled a good distance after the Marine Sergeant running the drill slapped him on the side of the head while grabbing the round.
One step follows the other, especially when it comes to weapons systems. No deviation from prepping to aiming to loading etc... if they thought the mortar went off but weren't sure the tube was clear then somebody wasn't paying attention. That someone was trained that after every round goes out a check is done.. something made him think that he didn't have to check or wasn't rote memorized enough to become part of his muscle memory.
... just think about every time you open a bolt and look down into the chamber. you don't even think about it, because you've done it 1000's of times. That just means that somehow they reviewed this unit and maybe found out that they took short cuts or occasionally were lax in discipline....just enough to let it become dangerous.
I don't know but all I know is that the man in command is probably feeling like he let those 7 men down. At least the senior NCOs do.
I had a liner from my helmet "twang" and my helmet spun around from somebody "accidentally" drawing across me with his g#@damn finger on the trigger in a live fire exercise. Joking around grab assing and only 1 person would have died. Me.
I almost smashed his skull in when I quit shaking but his fire team and squad leader paid the price..... then he paid the price.
Those brave men lost their lives and now that I'm older realize that they gave their lives so that future Marines can be saved by being reminded of their deaths and as that vivid memory of a bill of a DI's cover hammering into my forehead, "Pay attention to detail all the time, not just once in awhile, not just most of the time, not when your belly's full or when your ugly girlfriend was nice to you... all the time.....you miserable turd."
“The investigation also determined that the 60 mm mortar functioned properly and that the weapon system is safe”
Not only is the system not safe, the investigation is also faulty.
Generally the fuses are not armed until the round exits the tube. There are different methods for doing that.
You may be correct. I’m not arguing with you, per se..first of all, we’d need to read the entire incident investigation report..not just a few blurbs in a CNN article. And it may well be that there was a deficiency in training, and command. But it could also just have been an “accident”..the golden BB..the one time the S**T does in fact hit the fan. I repeart..for how many years, at exactly the same configured range, were the exact same methods used to train tens of thousandsa of Marines SAFELY? The USAF has a specific procedure for investigating accidents, where no blame is attached..just a total attempt to obtain the truth. Sadly, in our military today, starting at the Puzzle Palace, there is far too much CYA and PC...so three Marines with until now exemplary records may, I repeat, MAY have been sacrificed so that we can say that someone is blamed. It’s the same thing with doctors today...stuff happens, sometimes inexplicably, yet we expect perfection from our doctors, and when it doesn’t happen, we sue them.