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Old 17 September 2015, 07:21
Walksincircle Walksincircle is offline
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Demolition training accident Ft Bragg 1970.

A tragic accident occurred at Ft Bragg cross training working with demolitions. 6-7 soldiers were killed and 3-4 lost body parts.
This incident was hushed and the only press was in a local newspaper. I was in the blast area and only caught shrapnel in the back.

This post is a long shot, but maybe one of you were there or heard about it.

I had a bitch of a time with the VA trying to prove my back injury was from this major FU.
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Old 17 September 2015, 07:39
AKAPete AKAPete is offline
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Engineer Committee

The Engineer Committee had pictures that they passed out to the students during the Demo part in 1974 - and a reminder to always be careful.

Ran into one of the widows about a year ago. She lives over in Ponderosa and never remarried. Can't recall her name but we did talk about it.
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Old 17 September 2015, 08:20
Walksincircle Walksincircle is offline
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Thanks for the reply, the accident was the cadre's screw up not ours. What did they present to you?
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Old 17 September 2015, 13:44
Walksincircle Walksincircle is offline
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I have been thinking about the accident, and what version of the story was told to following classes. There was no media coverage of the event. One of the victims was a close friend, Jack. We had gone through medical training (42weeks) together. I requested and was granted burial detail, causing me to recycle through cross training. A big conference with the brass, and a challenge to my ability to work with explosives was made after hearing my version of the accident.
You decide.
It was a hot NC summer morning and we got an early start by jumping into the cattle cars. When we got to the range, where we were seated a small open air theater facing down range. As soon as we were settled, a huge explosion was fired down range. it was a very effective attention getter. We then were instructed on how to set a small circuit of TNT with electrical firing pins. We were broken into 10 groups of ten and went down range to set our charges. Each of us had 2 sticks of TNT and two firing pins. We set our pins and then expanded the circuit to include 10 charges.I was in group nine, and we finished before group 10 ( the last group on the right of the range) They had the galvanometer, which tested the connectivity of the circuit. I went over to group 10 and to get the galvanometer and as I left their circle, a huge explosion knocked me forward face first in the sand. My bell was ringing, with a sharp and hot pain in my back.
When I turned around and got back to group ten, I saw what TNT does to soldiers holding it. The first soldier I saw was a charred black skeleton, still in a kneeling position. I immediately recognize my pal Jack, from his overbite. The medical training took over and a quick evaluation showed who needed medical care. There was a "lucky guy missing only a lower leg, he was stabilized with a tourniquet. The next soldier was badly burned and losing his airway. Somehow the choppers were landing, and we got him on and headed for the hospital. I was trying to maintain the airway when the crew chief yelled at me to put out the fire. His fatigues were smoldering. We landed inside of five minutes and he was rushed away. They then pulled the shrapnel out of my back and a couple of people debriefed me.
I believe the accident was caused by some one forgetting to unhook the live wire that was used for the demo. The electrical source was on the right side of the range, adjacent to group 10.
When they completed their circuit, it was a live wire.
When I got back to the barracks, and called my Dad to tell him that I was okay, I realized that nobody would ever know about this. The barracks was on lockdown and this would be buried with my buddy.
I have no fear of explosives, but do fear the knucklehead that forgot to unhook the live demo wire.
Sorry for the rant, but I wanted to set the record straight.
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Old 17 September 2015, 16:07
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41 Years ago

Man that was 41 years ago. I don't remember the details - but it boiled down to static electricity and un-shunted wires - and a big caution to follow all the rules.
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Old 17 September 2015, 18:48
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It was still a topic when I went through SFOC in 1975. They wouldn't let any of us wear electric wrist watches, even for the non-electric primers.

As it was explained to us ...

... in 1970 the demo range had become a mess of old tangled wires, bits of steel, concrete slabs, burnt up time fuze, etc. left over from years of heading out to the range, setting up a charge, BOOM, then never really cleaning up. Maybe there was WD1/TT wire, some copper wire, unexploded det cord in bits and pieces, and so on.

A team might come out, set up a charge, reel out some wire, set it off with a PRC-77 battery, then walk away, leaving the wire (and the battery) in the mud.

So -- goes the story -- when this training class showed up, the students all walked downrange, set up the ring main for electric priming, with each student handing one lead from his blasting cap to the left, and one to the right. When all western union pigtail splices were intact, the last two lead wires were to be attached to the wire leading up range where the battery/blasting machine would be connected. But in the mess of wires, the student grabbed a hot pair (whether from the earlier demo, or a range exercise weeks earlier) and most of the students still had their 2 lb charges in their hand when the entire ring main went off.

When class 1-76 went through, the range was clean, raked, with little debris and zero excess wire. There was one spool of commo wire bolted to the table in front of the bleachers. Before we went down range, we each had to walk by and personally inspect the standing end of the wire to insure no battery was attached and the (copper wire) ends were twisted together. Then the first student grabbed the free-running end and started walking downrange, unreeling the wire. The next student grabbed the wire after about 20 feet had payed out and started walking. One by one we waited our turn to carry the wire downrange, unrolling it without it ever touching the ground. Several hundred feet later, we rigged our charges, then we returned up range where the standing end was untwisted and attached to the blasting machine. After the detonation, the wire was cut off about five or ten feet from the ragged blast end, and carefully rewound onto the reel. All scraps of wire were recovered and trashed.

We heard that the NCOIC had received credible death threats following the blast, and was lodged in a Pineland safe house for a while after the accident.
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Old 17 September 2015, 20:07
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When I went through the 18C course in 1991, we were given the story of this incident and what went wrong, as part of our safety briefing when we started training out on the range.

Real tragedy to say the least. RIP to those soldiers.
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Old 17 September 2015, 20:44
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Walksincircle View Post

I had a bitch of a time with the VA trying to prove my back injury was from this major FU.
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Old 18 September 2015, 07:26
Walksincircle Walksincircle is offline
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But in the mess of wires, the student grabbed a hot pair whether from the earlier demo, or a range exercise weeks earlier) and most of the students still had their 2 lb charges in their hand when the entire ring main went off.

Thanks for the follow up, Do you know of any printed report of this accident?
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Old 24 September 2015, 07:24
fred111 fred111 is offline
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I was in class at that range in 1970. It was after the accident. Everyone was talking about it but I can't remember much about what was said.
I just did a quick internet search and came up with nothing. I'll keep trying.

Good luck with the VA.
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Old 25 September 2015, 04:08
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Happened just before I got out.

I can't say it was hushed up-it sure was a topic of conversation.

I had just got back from two tours and however this sounds, I was just so used to this kind of stuff I didn't think much about it.

Felt bad for their families.
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Old 25 September 2015, 08:34
Walksincircle Walksincircle is offline
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I am sure that it was a local topic around base.
When I got back to the barracks, and called my Dad to tell him that I was fine. He said "what accident?". The media was stoned.
No coverage except a small article in a local paper.
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Old 26 September 2015, 12:05
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If there was an article in the local paper and the paper still exists, that's a starting point. Presumably you know the date or the time period. The paper probably has microfilm of its past issues, or the local library may have them.

I see you're in Florida, so it may be inconvenient to go to Bragg, but a telephone call to the paper or library will let you know if past editions are available. If the paper has been sold, etc, ask where the historic records were moved. You'll probably have to speak to several people to find someone knowledgeable. Libraries can be great resources and the staff is usually proud/happy to show off their resources.

If there is a newspaper article, you may have to go there or try to develop a contact who will do the legwork for you to get a copy. If you feel the person to whom you are speaking may be helpful, be nice to him/her and they may offer to do the research for you. Microfiche reading can be tedious. The article may provide other leads, names, etc. Don't forget to look up the obits of your friend(s). They may make reference to a training accident or explosion, etc.

If you were treated, don't your med records have some notation?

Hope this helps.
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Old 26 September 2015, 12:43
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Fayetteville Observer

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Originally Posted by jared1652 View Post
... The paper probably has microfilm of its past issues, or the local library may have them....
Copies of the Fayetteville Observer from that time period are kept on microfilm rolls down at the main Library. They have something like two weeks on each roll and are pretty easy to zip through.
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Old 26 September 2015, 14:26
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You can also try DA Form 2823 (Sworn Statement) from at least 3 personnel who were on the range that day or from hospital personnel that treated you.
It appears that you've already run into one or two here that may be able to assist you tracking down folks with more knowledge about that day.

Upload the "New information" into your "Claims" file on ebenefits.va.gov.
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Old 9 June 2016, 08:34
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Walksincircle View Post
I have been thinking about the accident, and what version of the story was told to following classes. There was no media coverage of the event. One of the victims was a close friend, Jack. We had gone through medical training (42weeks) together. I requested and was granted burial detail, causing me to recycle through cross training. A big conference with the brass, and a challenge to my ability to work with explosives was made after hearing my version of the accident.
You decide.
It was a hot NC summer morning and we got an early start by jumping into the cattle cars. When we got to the range, where we were seated a small open air theater facing down range. As soon as we were settled, a huge explosion was fired down range. it was a very effective attention getter. We then were instructed on how to set a small circuit of TNT with electrical firing pins. We were broken into 10 groups of ten and went down range to set our charges. Each of us had 2 sticks of TNT and two firing pins. We set our pins and then expanded the circuit to include 10 charges.I was in group nine, and we finished before group 10 ( the last group on the right of the range) They had the galvanometer, which tested the connectivity of the circuit. I went over to group 10 and to get the galvanometer and as I left their circle, a huge explosion knocked me forward face first in the sand. My bell was ringing, with a sharp and hot pain in my back.
When I turned around and got back to group ten, I saw what TNT does to soldiers holding it. The first soldier I saw was a charred black skeleton, still in a kneeling position. I immediately recognize my pal Jack, from his overbite. The medical training took over and a quick evaluation showed who needed medical care. There was a "lucky guy missing only a lower leg, he was stabilized with a tourniquet. The next soldier was badly burned and losing his airway. Somehow the choppers were landing, and we got him on and headed for the hospital. I was trying to maintain the airway when the crew chief yelled at me to put out the fire. His fatigues were smoldering. We landed inside of five minutes and he was rushed away. They then pulled the shrapnel out of my back and a couple of people debriefed me.
I believe the accident was caused by some one forgetting to unhook the live wire that was used for the demo. The electrical source was on the right side of the range, adjacent to group 10.
When they completed their circuit, it was a live wire.
When I got back to the barracks, and called my Dad to tell him that I was okay, I realized that nobody would ever know about this. The barracks was on lockdown and this would be buried with my buddy.
I have no fear of explosives, but do fear the knucklehead that forgot to unhook the live demo wire.
Sorry for the rant, but I wanted to set the record straight.
First time posting for me here. I did a search on this subject and found this link from last year sometime.

I was with that group of soldiers on that fateful day. Time has erased a lot of memories for sure, but I think I still can add something tangible to the conversation.

Some things I do not remember because of time and it just didnít seem important anymore, but maybe none of this does except to honor the lost souls of that day. I told this story maybe 3 times since that day, I will just rip it as I remember it, even if it doesnít jibe with somebody elseís account or not. Everyone has a different vantage point to the ordeal.

I do not remember the class number at all. I do remember the events of the day, basically.

The company arrived at the demo range and were given a briefing on how it was all going to go down. We saw a big explosion down field, supposedly to get our attention. All the soldiers grinned from cheek to cheek and ooohed and aawed. Of course most people were in their early 20s so it was kind of a big deal.

I recall the set up a little different that a previous poster mentioned. I recall there were 10-12 circles for charges to be laid out in a circle maybe 25 feet in diameter and each circle had 12 soldiers involved. But that is my estimate.

I donít recall exactly where we got the explosives or the detonators. I do remember each person getting 2 blocks of an explosive and going down range in certain groups. Then each person was given 2 detonators. Each person was to insert the detonator with a wire into each block.
Each person would hook theirs together then give the end of the wire to the soldiers on the right and left of him so it all could be hooked up in series. Of course the end two had to hook up to the wires from the bleachers. I donít recall a circuit test in the mix.

We went through all that, went up to the bleachers and then one after another we got to see our handiwork in action.

Then we start over with some other type of explosive. I recall dynamite for one setup and C4 for another, We went downfield again doing the same routine with each type. Never a hitch. I did notice from our group and others, some soldiers would be on their hands and knees and some crouching placing their explosives on the ground, and then backing away.

Then came the TNT part. We went down field and it was my lucky lucky day. Facing downfield I was in the group second from the right with some guys I barracked with. Not best friends, but friends. I can remember a few names off the top of my head, Parker, Bible, Cosner.

When we got down range with our charges a closer friend in the far right circle called me over to be in that group, and I figured, what the heck, and I did. I just wandered over.

We got to the task of setting the charges but in near the end of setting our charges I felt a horrific blast from right in back of me that blew me about 10-20 feet. I still stayed on my feet, but I immediately spun around and saw a charred leg flying.

Then I noticed among bodies a friend laying on the ground screaming, all charred and naked but his belt and pubic hair was on fire and he was screaming in agony. I started walking that way but was sure all the rest of the charges were going to blow up so I ran back around our circle to get in that direction safely, hoping all of them wouldnít blow.

Upon getting closer I noticed many the SF medics converging on the scene from the other groups and were doing an immediate assessment and began doing their thing with the victim. Keeping airways open as best they could.

Unless we were medics we were told to go to the bleachers and get out of the way, basically. I gladly obliged because I was in a state of shock and useless anyway.

Within a short timeframe, like 5-10 minutes, Hueys began rolling in from another training mission a few miles away and taking the men to Womach Hospital. Most of us watched from the bleachers. I thought to myself of all the sand they were kicking up on those poor soldiers laying there. Some time elapsed between loads and it seemed like forever to get a return trip from Womach. I donít believe all were picked up in one landing, but am not sure.

I still donít know what happened but I just assumed the cadre hooked up the wires to a hot wire coming down from the bleachers. I remember people talking about static electricity from the air.

I remember marching back to the barracks from the drop off point past other barracks and getting heckled at because everyone was out of step and just beat down mentally and by obviously in shock. We were told not to talk to any news organization which was fine by me.

I went home because I lived off base just off of Bragg Blvd and told my wife about my experience and it was a long night grieving.

A few days later there was a memorial service on base at a chapel or church, I donít remember which. There were 7 or 8 sets of boots and berets lined up on stage representing all that paid the ultimate sacrifice.

One thing that really struck me was in the middle of the memorial service. The chaplainsí name was Cosner and somebody went up to the podium and interrupted him which I though was odd. But the message was heartbreaking; the chaplainsí son who was part of that group just died moments ago. The chaplain took a second and then commenced his sermon along with that fact.

I do remember, after the fact, being bummed because we didnít get to set up charges and explode them again. Either that was the last time we were scheduled or the Captain felt that was enough for us.

A few months ago my wife came across our original Fayetteville Observer article I saved from our scrapbook and showed it to me. I said that was fine but I didnít reread it. She then stashed it in a photo album or book someplace.

After reading these other posts I asked her where she put it but she didnít know exactly, which is not surprising. I didnít mention to her I found this post as yet because it took a month to finally get in to be able to post on this site. I didnít tell her to hunt until she finds it either because I didnít know if anyone would be interested. Who knows, maybe on a boring hot summer afternoon I will hunt for it myself.

But, basically that is my story.
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Old 9 June 2016, 10:55
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Chucko, you need to post an into as you were instructed to do in your welcome email.

However, more importantly, from my experience in the military, SF, and the Q course, I don't think your story is real. I'll eat crow and apologize if it turns out you're the real deal, but if I'm reading that right (I just woke up), that story is BS.
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Old 9 June 2016, 13:01
Chucko Chucko is offline
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Hot Mess, I didn't post an intro because my email didn't tell me to. I have been on other forums and they all did tell me to post an intro, but this one didn't for some reason.

I really don't need to prove anything to you, but doubt is understandable because of people making exaggerated claims about their tours in the military. In other words, don't let the truth get in the way of a good story.

This story is the real deal and verifiable to anyone else there on that day. There was nothing heroic about any of it, I was just telling the story of what happened to me that I remembered and was burned into my mind.
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Old 9 June 2016, 14:00
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Sir, no pissing contest on my part. Originally reading your story it didn't make sense. Upon rereading it I understand it more. I apologize and thank you for leading the way. DOL.
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Old 9 June 2016, 14:22
Chucko Chucko is offline
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No problem. I will post an introduction just as soon as I figure our where to do it, which I should probably have done before.

That story when told to the few people I knew were not in the military and they seemed a little squeamish so I just forgot about it, until I read from others that understood the ordeal.

I did end up working in the weapons pool used for issuing guns to trainees for a couple years located maybe a mile south of the Headquarters office.

Anyway, time to make some friends on this site. Have a good day.
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