CHIEF WARRANT OFFICER 3 KENNETH SINKER
Asymmetric Warfare Group
Fort A.P. Hill, Virginia
In 2008, I was part of the 14th Combat Engineer Battalion, 555th Combat Engineer Brigade. The unit was reassigned from Kirkuk, in the northern region of Iraq, to Tallil Air Base in the south. Logistically, relocating four companies and the Headquarters and Headquarters Company would encompass a lot of moving parts. The battalion had about 600 pieces of equipment ranging from unmanned aviation systems to Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles. We also had about 400 military-owned demountable containers full of wood.
As the convoy neared completion, only one remaining M1114 needed to be manned and driven to the new location. Because of a shortage of personnel, a crew was filled from the remaining staff and consisted of a young private first class, the vehicle commander and an NCO who was one of my data entry supply technicians. The entire crew, from what I gathered, had never driven outside the forward operating base.
On the convoy down, the VC fell fast asleep. Farther along the way on Highway 1, better known as Route Tampa, the driver nodded off as well. Eventually, the vehicle came to an abrupt stop when it struck a parked cement truck that was sitting on the side of the road. The impact tore the entire machine gun turret off the vehicle and threw it down the street. Unfortunately, the gunner was still in the turret and killed instantly.
After the investigation, it was discovered that the driver was never properly trained to drive an M1114, and the VC — who had never been off the FOB — was unaware of the inherent dangers of driving in Iraq.
This was a tragic accident that could have been avoided. I am not sure of the final results of the investigation, but I do know that a good Soldier died that day and my SAMS-E clerk lost an eye when he struck his head on the M1114’s dash. We must learn from accidents like these and help prevent them from occurring again through engaged leadership and proper training.