Oklahoma Airman Experiences Heart-Stopping Accident In Afghanistan

Thursday, February 17th 2011, 11:29 am
By: News 9

Heather Bennett, News 9 Contributor
Oklahoma Airman Serving In Afghanistan

ENTRY #14:

Here's an update on the bottom bunk deal. I got wind that the building I was living in was going to be remodeled with all new stuff on my floor, so I went ahead and starting asking around to make sure. I really didn't want to move AGAIN, so I had to get all the facts before I packed my things up to move. I talked to all the people I needed to, and it turned out to be true. I was going to have to move buildings. Not a big deal, since it was right next door, and still on the bottom floor. I did a little recon and there was only one person in that room, so the other bottom bunk was mine if I got there soon enough. Long story short, I moved my stuff within 45 min to ensure I got the bottom. So there you have it! Something went my way this week, and I'm rocking the bottom!

On a more heart-racing note, I experienced what could have been a very horrible roll-over accident in our MATV. Let me set the scene. We've had a rain and snow mix for the last week and change, so everything is gross and muddy. Nothing is fun to do! Walking to the chow hall is like the game we played when we were young, where you had to jump around trying not to touch the "lava", but the lava is a not huge mud puddle that has the potential to engulf your entire shoe before you know what happens.

It was 0430-ish, give or take, and we had been driving around for a good while now, just doing what we do, patrolling the fence line and making ourselves known. Our usual driver wasn't driving this night. He had driven the last six nights and was pretty tired of it, so one of the other guys took the wheel. Let me reassure you that this could have happened to anyone, and by no means was the new driver's fault.

It was "ugly" cold out, there was a blanket of zombie fog just creeping across base, and we were right in the middle of it. We came around a corner and there was a 4-runner nose-first in a drainage ditch on the right side of the road. Law Enforcement (PMO) was already out there taking care of the driver and doing what they do. The PMO truck was parked in the middle of the road and we needed to get by. On the left side there was a "drive up", which is a man-made hill about 10 to 15 feet high made for cars to drive up on in order to get a better view of whatever it is they need to see. My driver decided to go up the "drive up". No big deal. I was in the turret at this point, and the empty seat was the back passenger seat.

We drove up the hill and proceeded over the top. As we were headed down the "drive up," it started to crumble under the weight of the MATV. The back tire started to slide off the side, and at this point I knew I needed to get inside, because we were about to roll off the edge of this "drive up." I sat down in the open seat and we all kind of looked at each other and sat there, almost in disbelief that this was really happening.

The driver says, "We're good. I'm going to drive it forward." He did this, but it only caused us to tilt more, and with that tilt, eight .50 caliber ammo cans shifted (our strap was missing, so the cans didn't get tied down that night), and slid into me, pushing me into the door. Now I was pinned between the door and cans, and all I could think was, "I don't want to bust my face, it's my money-maker, and I really like my teeth". We were about to roll over, and my head and face were going to get so messed up because the strap came up missing. Day shift can't ever keep track of stuff, and now my face was going to pay for it.

The roll-over part, we all could have handled. We had training on it in El Paso, and had some kind of idea of what to do in that case. The truck finally stopped at about a 40-degree tilt and held. I couldn't really move, so the passenger in the back seat grabbed an ammo can, which helped release a little of the pressure. I was able to pull myself back up into the turret, and out of the top to jump down and off the MATV. The driver and front passenger were stuck, because the doors are stupidly heavy and need more than one person to open them at that angle.

Lucky for us, there were some people already out there, because the 4-runner was in the ditch. They came over and helped get the doors open. The front passenger was able to open the door, just barely enough to jump out. No one got hurt in this incident, and the MATV is fine. We were able to pull it out with another MATV. It could have been a lot worse we for sure! We had someone looking out for us on that one.