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GRAFENWÖHR, Germany — A 2nd Cavalry (Stryker) Regiment soldier fatally shot last month while training to deploy to Iraq mistakenly passed between a shooter and a target, according to the U.S. Army Europe and 7th Army commander Gen. David D. McKiernan.

Sgt. Jonathon Russell “Rusty” Gilbert, 22, died June 9 at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center after being shot in the head at Grafenwöhr Training Area on May 30.

McKiernan cited the accident in his latest “McKiernan Sends” safety message, which included information on the deaths of two other soldiers in off-duty vehicle accidents.

“A noncommissioned officer was fatally wounded while taking part in a live-fire exercise in Grafenwöhr. He had rehearsed the exercise plan correctly but during the actual exercise he failed to follow the plan as rehearsed,” McKiernan wrote.

Instead of following the plan, Gilbert passed between a shooter and the target, he wrote.

“This was a fatal error. This proves that a good plan can go wrong when it is not followed, and our individual actions can make a difference between life and death.

“Each of us much accept responsibility for our actions and learn how to recognize and avoid dangerous situations,” he wrote.

Leaders must oversee implementation of risk-minimization decisions, McKiernan added.

USAREUR spokesman Bruce Anderson said a copy of the official report on the incident could not be made available for another week.

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Seth Robson is a Tokyo-based reporter who has been with Stars and Stripes since 2003. He has been stationed in Japan, South Korea and Germany, with frequent assignments to Iraq, Afghanistan, Haiti, Australia and the Philippines.
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