More Reasons Not To Enlist

There’s a new “moment of death in war” photo. See here:

One of the most famous of such photos was one of a soldier getting shot in the Spanish Civil War. But this might be the only photo there is of one where everyone died at that very second. What happened? Well, it wasn’t really war. It was a training accident.

What happened was probably one of two things. The first possibility is they were doing a “rapid fire” using two loaders. One dropped a round into the tube right on top of one the other loaded just dropped in. Or one round misfired and was in the tube still unfired and a second round dropped on top of it, which detonated the round in the tube when it landed on the fuse.

The second possibility is mortar tube failure. I was a 45B in the army. That is, a small arms repairman. One thing we did was a routine inspection of mortar tubes and these were all on a regular schedule to come in for inspection. There are two steps. First is a borescoping, where a lighted microscope is sent down the tube and the entire inside is checked for cracks. The other is “pullover gage” where the inside diameter of the mortar tube is checked for erosion which can lead to failure of the tube. Also, mortar crews must keep a record of the number of rounds sent through the tube. After a certain number, the tube is de-milled and scrapped. The record card is supposed to be kept with the weapon at all times. Now, what the maintenance schedule looks like in Afghanistan, I can’t say.

My point here? Yes, it’s this: You don’t have to be in a war to die in the military. Borescoping and pullover gaging mortar tubes was the thing I hated most when it came to small arms repair. That was the one that could land you in the most trouble if you missed a crack or didn’t gage a tube right and it then failed. Because a whole crew might die and guess what? The army comes after you as the repairman who certified it as safe to fire. Because the first thing they do is go look up the maintenance records on that weapon. And, well, you might get to go to jail because someone has got to pay. So, not only can you die in training accidents like this, you might get to go to jail if you were the schlemiel who performed the maintenance and they find the tube failed.

I’m sure they’ll be investigating the heck out of this one since it wasn’t just the Afghan crew that perished in this incident. Be that as it may, here’s another reason to steer clear of the military. Because it’s not just wars that kill you in there.


12:35 pm on May 3, 2017