U.S. Army evaluating safety procedures after shots from U.S. range hit civilian, garrison buildings
July 12, 2011
BAMBERG, Germany — U.S. Army officials say they are evaluating safety procedures at the U.S. military garrison in Grafenwöhr, after live rounds from a machine gun, fired during a training exercise, hit buildings on and off base, including a private home and two barracks buildings. No one was hurt.
The U.S. military and German authorities are investigating the incident, which occurred on Friday afternoon during a moving live-fire exercise with an M-2 .50 caliber machine gun. Eleven rounds were misfired toward the town and garrison, hitting barracks buildings, a motor pool, the physical fitness center and two vehicles on post, as well as a garage, family home and the glass door of a private vocational school, said Franz Zielmann, a public affairs spokesman for the garrison. German police said the school was already closed for the day.
German police said a 55-year-old pensioner heard the shots around 3:20 p.m. Friday, and alerted police after finding bullet hits in his garage roof and the facade of a nearby home.
“As a result of the incident, the JMTC and the training unit are currently re-evaluating its safety procedures and standards.” Lt. Col. Scott Moore, the Joint Multi-National Training Command’s chief of range control, was quoted as saying in a press release. “Modifications and changes have already been made to ensure the safe usage of the ranges and training facilities.”
This is not the first time training accidents have gone awry at Grafenwöhr. In 1960, 16 U.S. soldiers were killed and 27 injured when an eight-inch artillery shell that was fired off of its intended course exploded in a tent camp in Grafenwöhr, according to press reports from the time. Ten years ago, two tank shells landed in the small town of Kirchenthumbach, just outside the training area, hitting the roof of an elementary school.
Stars and Stripes reporter Marcus Kloeckner contributed to this report.