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A Lack of Intervention

A Lack of Intervention

MASTER SGT. CHAD ROSS
Detachment 1, B Company,
3-238th General Support Aviation Battalion
Michigan Army National Guard
Selfridge Air National Guard Base, Michigan

I knew the kid. Most of the Soldiers in the battalion did. He was the son of one of the senior NCOs and very popular within the units. He was outgoing, energetic and, at 24 years old, had the whole world in front of him. A recent graduate of the 68W Combat Medic Course, he’d already deployed once with the battalion’s MEDEVAC Company. From what I knew of him, he seemed like he had a level head on his shoulders. He’d even volunteered for a deployment to Afghanistan as a door gunner with my company and was at the top of the list of those we planned on taking.

I wasn’t there the night the accident happened. I wish I had been. I might have been able to talk some sense into him. However, a chain of bad decisions and lack of intervention would take him from his parents and sibling, his friends, the Army and this world forever.

During a night of hanging out after drill with buddies from his unit, he decided it would be a good idea to hop on his Honda CBR 750, along with a young woman he was smitten with, and go for a quick ride. He had not been drinking, but he left his helmet with a friend. His companion didn’t have a helmet either — or any other personal protective equipment (PPE).

As the Soldier left that night, everything seemed fine. He turned left out of the parking lot and disappeared into light traffic. A few miles down the road, the Soldier turned onto a smaller street that coiled through a group of subdivisions. At some point, he accelerated down a straightaway. It was late, no one seemed to be around and maybe the stop sign became an option instead of a rule. He never saw the van approaching from the right. If he did, it was too late or beyond his skill to avoid it.

The impact was brutal. The Soldier and his passenger were violently launched from the motorcycle and into the side of the van. The injuries they suffered were extensive and grave. Paramedics pronounced them both dead at the scene.

Four days later on a rainy afternoon in northern Michigan, more than 100 people paid their respects to the Soldier. Even though I didn’t know him very well, tears welled up in my eyes as “Taps” played, a 21-gun salute sounded and his coffin was lowered to his final resting place.

When I reflect on this tragedy, my thoughts linger on what a waste of life it was. A young man and woman, in the primes of their lives, gone forever. Then I wonder, “Why in the hell didn’t someone stop him that night?” I puzzle over where the failure occurred. Everyone in the crowd he was hanging out with that night was in the military — enlisted, NCOs and officers. They should have known the risks, right?

We will never know the reasons for the decisions made that night. We only know that the outcome was irreversible. A father and mother lost a son, a sister lost a brother, we all lost a comrade, the Army lost a Soldier, and the world lost two young people with untapped potential. What we can do, however, is learn from this tragic event. Leaders are obligated to educate Soldiers, especially young and inexperienced riders, on safe riding habits, the use of proper PPE and prudent decision-making processes on and off duty.

 

  • 9 June 2024
  • Author: USACRC Editor
  • Number of views: 194
  • Comments: 0
Categories: Off-DutyPMV-2
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