Final month, two Marines had been killed and 17 wounded—not in fight, however in transit: Their truck overturned on a freeway outdoors Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. And it is not as uncommon as you suppose. We discovered that because the dad or mum or companion of somebody within the army, you are more likely to get that dreadful “name” and study that the one you love was killed in an accident slightly than a battle. And plenty of – many extra – accidents contain armored automobiles throughout coaching.

First Lieutenant Conor McDowell

First Lieutenant Conor McDowell, a platoon chief within the Marines, was on a coaching mission in a calmly armored car at Camp Pendleton, Calif., in Could 2019 when he hit an unmarked ditch lined in brush.

Leslie Stahl: Describe what occurred.

Susan Flanigan: He referred to as his males, “rollover, rollover, rollover.” He pushed his gunner into the turret subsequent to him underneath the armor, however he could not get himself down in time and it rolled into that ditch, rolled over, and crushed him.

Connor was the one youngster of Susan Flanigan and Michael McDowell.

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Susan Flanigan and Michael McDowell

Michael McDowell: At first I assumed while you practice it is such as you need to combat. However I had just a few spare moments on the lodge once we went to San Diego to carry her again. And I googled “rollover” and “army”. And I realized {that a} month earlier at Pendleton, a Marine Raider had died in a rollover. So I googled forwards and backwards, “military,” et cetera. And out of the blue I noticed a complete array of deaths within the rollover of army automobiles, of every kind: Humvees, light-armored automobiles, Bradley combating automobiles. After which I spotted that this isn’t a single incident. This can be a systemic downside.

Leslie Stahl: Throughout coaching?

Michael McDowell: Throughout coaching. I can settle for folks dying in battle. However if you happen to’re coaching in your individual nation and also you’re getting killed in non-preventable accidents, that is a giant downside that must be fastened.

To repair this, McDowell continued digging and what he uncovered was so severe and but routinely uncared for that it led to a scathing report by the Authorities Accountability Workplace: the GAO in these accidents within the Military and Marines. discovered near 4,000. cores from 2010 to 2019, leading to 123 deaths, of which practically two-thirds concerned rollovers. And stunning: occurs largely in broad daylight, on common roads, even in parking tons.

Michael McDowell: That is the tragedy of low expectations. It’s anticipated that folks will die in coaching.

Leslie Stahl: Are you saying that they count on it? what are you doing?

Michael McDowell: It is imagined to be the value of being a soldier or a Marine.

Leslie Stahl: In coaching?

Michael McDowell: Sure.

Leslie Stahl: They expect-

Michael McDowell: “Coaching is harmful. This stuff occur.”

However they only “do not occur.” The GAO concluded that there was usually “improper supervision”. That the drivers had been poorly educated and that the automobiles had been under-inspected. A number of components had been concerned in some accidents, as within the case of Christopher-Bobby Gnum, a Navy sailor.

Christopher-Bobby Gnem

Screams of pleasure erupted from Bobby’s mom, Nancy, when she gave him a Christmas shock.

A yr and a half later, in the summertime of 2020, he and 15 Marines had been coaching in Amphibious Assault Automobiles – or AAVs – from Camp Pendleton in large armored ships for use each on land and at sea. His stepfather, Peter Vienna, says the Marines had no enterprise sending the AAVs utilized in his son’s drill.

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Peter Ostrovsky, Peter Vienna and Nancy Vienna

Peter Vienna: They’re 40 years outdated and so they had been in horrible situation. And as a substitute of asking for a greater place AAV, which were– there have been loads of them. He had obtained these, all of which had been in poor situation.

Peter Ostrovsky: So that they’re baking within the solar in a parking zone at Camp Pendleton. They’re getting worse.

Peter Ostrovsky’s son, Jack Ryan, was additionally on that mission.

jack ryan

Peter Ostrovsky: Per week earlier than the mission, we had been speaking on the phone. And he remarked that “AAVs sink on a regular basis.” They’ve referred to as them, and so they have referred to as it the “floating coffin”.

Leslie Stahl: Do you suppose he was anxious?

Peter Ostrovsky: Oh, completely.

Two AAVs broke down and the engine leaked from his sons’ designated car. And but the mission was not aborted.

Leslie Stahl: What was the drive to maneuver ahead with defective gear?

Peter Ostrovsky: They’re making an attempt to maintain a schedule. [To] be on time

Peter Vienna: The protection of our sons took second place for finishing a coaching mission. This isn’t a contest. It is not a “do it now”. That is coaching. There ought to have been an all cease at many locations.

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an amphibious assault car

However 16 youths crowded the AAV as might be seen in a video a Marine despatched to his father. It began taking water virtually instantly: ankle stage; calf stage; Seat stage, AAV methods had been failing one after the opposite.

Peter Vienna: The communication system was down. They had been at the hours of darkness utilizing the lights on their cell telephones and making an attempt to see.

Leslie Stahl: Wait, wait, wait. Lights did not work?

Peter Vienna: The protection lighting that was imagined to work – it did not.

Leslie Stahl: Have been there lifeboats?

Peter Vienna: No. So there have to be two security boats within the water. They did not go together with anybody.


That is an AAV on the underside of the ocean in an underwater video that we obtained through a freedom of knowledge request. Seven folks made it out alive. 9 did not. Seems most had obtained little or no security coaching to outlive.

Leslie Stahl: It would not make any sense.

Peter Vienna: There’s quite a bit in it that does not make sense. They had been taking to the water for 45 minutes but they had been discovered on the underside of the ocean with all their gear nonetheless on – their gear nonetheless, their physique armor.

Leslie Stahl: And that– they should not have been- who ought to have stopped?

Peter Vienna: They did not know what to do. They had been all one another, like, “What does that imply, what can we do?”

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9 who died in AAV crash.

Leslie Stahl: , the Marine Corps did its investigation, and the Marine Corps concluded that this, and I will use a direct quote, was “preventable.”

Peter Ostrovsky: The incompetence from the highest down, the shortage of preparation, the shortage of responsibility to essentially take care of our sons – it was stunning.

Leslie Stahl: Are you able to sue the army or the commanders for what occurred?

Peter Vienna: Fares has the precept – makes it inconceivable.

The Fares Doctrine prohibits anybody from suing the army for something that occurs to service-members on the job, irrespective of how severe.

Nancy Vienna: The most important factor for me is that these boys weren’t protected. I’ve this imaginative and prescient in my head – nightmares of happening AAV. What was his final phrase?

It was one of many worst coaching accidents in Marine Corps historical past. However accidents carry on coming, and the much less severe ones, the Gao says, are much less doubtless. Military fight medic, Christian Avila Taveras, was on a coaching train in 2018 when a car broke down, so his car needed to tow him.

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Christian Avila Taverasi

Christian Avila Tavares: It might be round 1:30. It is darkish, it is raining, it is mud. The car we had been carrying skidded and hit us. And so we simply rolled over. And I used to be kicked out of the car, after which the car simply landed on me, pinning me down from the waist.

Leslie Stahl: So This Big Monster Automobile rolls over you?

Christian Avila Tavares: Sure. as much as me.

His left leg needed to be amputated above the knee. The appropriate leg was so badly broken, he spent the following two years in rehab, studying to stroll once more.

And we realized that there was one other rollover rather than Avila Taveras on the identical day throughout coaching.

The army advised us there have been fewer car deaths final yr, saying most had been as a consequence of human error and inexperience; About 1 in 5 recruits be a part of the army with no driver’s license.

The Pentagon and Marines declined our interview requests, though the brand new protection finances mandates a number of new safety provisions, and the AAV will now not be utilized in water workouts.

However there are different steps the army can take that they have not, together with comparatively low-cost upgrades to the car concerned in most crashes: the Huami.

Check footage by IMMI, a security methods provider, reveals what can occur inside a Humvee in a rollover.

However be careful: Drivers could have a greater probability when Humvees are retrofitted with IMMI restraints and airbags.

There is a cause why there are such a lot of Humvee crash numbers: Over 100,000 are utilized by the army alone. One more reason is engineering: their excessive heart of gravity makes them susceptible to overturning.

And since humvees had been straightforward targets for IEDs in Iraq and Afghanistan, the army added further armor that made them even much less secure.

We had been invited by a small army contractor, Ricardo Protection, to exhibit how unstable these automobiles might be when making turns.

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We had been going lower than 30 mph. There have been two yellow bars to maintain us from really turning over.

Most Humvees would not have anti-lock brakes or digital stability management that stops rollover. However eight years in the past, Ricciardo developed them for Humvee. Ricciardo’s chairman is Chet Grizzan.

Chet Grizzan: Let’s do the identical with the system, please?

With the system turned on: All wheels stay firmly on the bottom.

The system works so nicely, it’s now necessary in all new Humvees. However what about Humvees already in use? Properly, Ricardo got here up with a security package that might be put in in virtually 54,000 older Humvees for about $16,000 per car.

You may make 10 or extra older automobiles safer for the price of one new car. And but, the Protection Division is asking for some huge cash for brand new Humvees, however solely a fraction of what’s wanted to retrofit outdated Humvees.

Chet Gryczan: If the finances was permitted as we speak by numbers, we might have had sufficient cash for about 545 automobiles.

Leslie Stahl: 545 automobiles out of 54,000? this a lot solely?

Chet Gryczan: That is it, sure. So it is about 1% of the fleet. At that price, it will take 100 years for the fleet to suit.

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Chet Grizzan

Leslie Stahl: A current letter to the Pentagon from a number of congressmen helps your package. He calculated that the distinction in value between putting in your package and constructing a brand new car is about $13 billion. It looks as if a no brainer.

Chet Grizzan: Sure. why will not you do it?

Congressman John Garamendi, chairman of the Armed Providers Subcommittee on Readiness, advised us that Congress and the Pentagon’s precedence for brand new over upgrades is “usually dedicated to retaining protection contractors fed.”

Leslie Stahl: Have you ever taken any steps to say “nobody must be in a Humvee that does not have anti-lock brakes”?

Michael McDowell: We have tried and I’ve lobbied. We need to enhance security in coaching. As a result of persons are dying needlessly in preventable accidents. It will not value that a lot. Nevertheless it must be performed. And it’s as much as the American folks to place strain on their members of Congress.

Produced by Shacher Bar-On. Affiliate Producer, Jinsol Jung. Broadcast affiliate, Wren Woodson. Edited by Matthew Lev.


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