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Do the Right Thing

Do the Right Thing


82nd Maintenance Company
Georgia Army National Guard
Fort Benning, Georgia

It was the fall of 1993 and I’d just joined the Georgia Army National Guard. After being out of the Army for a little more than a year, I was eager to return to service.

My first drill was at Fort Stewart, and the unit was heading to the field. Upon meeting my platoon sergeant, I was asked if I could drive a 5-ton truck. I proudly told him I was licensed to drive all of the Army’s wheeled vehicles, 10-ton and below. As I began my preventive maintenance checks and services, the platoon sergeant told me the truck had already been checked and was fine. “Just drive it,” he said. At that moment, I had a choice to make. Do I do the right thing and stand firm, or do I concede to fit in?

The first thing I thought about was a specialist I knew who died in an accident during Desert Storm. She was an 88M (motor transport operator) and could drive a truck better than anyone I’d ever seen. I was a mechanic, and we became fast friends during motor stables. Every time I saw her, she was carrying her dash 10. She believed you could never be too careful. “Check your equipment before getting in,” she would always say. It was something that was drilled into her head during driver training.

I then thought about how it felt to hear she’d died when the truck she was driving flipped. That memory gave me the strength to take the hard road. I told the platoon sergeant the requirements stated the one operating the vehicle was to conduct PMCS, not someone else. He wasn’t too happy with me and said he’d find someone else to drive the truck.

While he was looking for another mechanic to drive to the field, I inspected the truck. When I got to the tires, I noticed the right front was low on air and the inner tread was worn. I couldn’t believe someone had driven this truck in this condition on the interstate from Savannah to Fort Stewart.

When the platoon sergeant returned, he had another mechanic with him who was ready to jump into the seat and take off to the field. Before he could leave, I showed the platoon sergeant the tire. He decided to send the truck to the motor pool to have the tire replaced. As the young mechanic took off across the staging area toward the motor pool, I heard a loud bang. I looked up just in time to see the truck swerve sharply.

As I ran to check on the driver, I could see the tire had exploded and the truck was resting on its rim. Fortunately, the driver was all right. I then realized that if I’d taken the platoon sergeant’s word that the truck was fine and driven to the field, the tire would have blown out on me. Driving at a higher rate of speed, I may have been seriously injured or even killed.

As I look back on this incident, I believe my friend was watching out for me. Remembering her commitment to safety gave me the courage to stand up for what I believed was right. Who would have thought that her driver training would have rubbed off on me? I know it saved my life that day.

  • 17 December 2017
  • Author: Army Safety
  • Number of views: 897
  • Comments: 0