Commander sends case of plummeting Humvees to court-martial

Soldiers of the 173rd Airborne Brigade release a heavy drop from a Boeing C-17 Globemaster III while conducting an airborne operation during exercise Saber Junction on April 11, 2016, at Joint Multinational Readiness Center in Hohenfels, Germany.



Content warning: YouTube video of the Humvee parachute mishap contains adult language.

VICENZA, Italy — A sergeant charged in connection with the free-fall destruction last year of three Humvees is headed to court-martial, the military said.

Brig. Gen. Tony Aguto, commander of the 7th Army Training Command, has decided to court-martial Sgt. John Skipper, 27, on charges of destroying government property and making a false official statement.

Skipper is assigned to the 1st Squadron, 91st Cavalry Regiment in Grafenwoehr, Germany. The squadron is part of the 173rd Airborne Brigade, based in Vicenza.

Skipper was charged in May. No arraignment date has been set, the 7th ATC said.

Three Humvees broke loose from their parachutes and plummeted to earth during exercise Saber Junction at the Hohenfels Training Area in Bavaria in April 2016.

Authorities have declined to say whether the charges fault Skipper with either an intentional or a negligent action.

Damage, destruction or loss of government property — either “willfully caused” or due to negligence — is an offense under Article 108 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Willful destruction carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison, a dishonorable discharge and forfeiture of all pay and allowances.

Negligent destruction carries a maximum punishment of a year in prison, a bad-conduct discharge and forfeiture of all pay and allowances.

A sergeant first class heard laughing and cursing on a video of the Humvees falling from the sky has already been punished. The sergeant, an “observer trainer coach” assigned to the 7th ATC’s Joint Multinational Readiness Center, was given an administrative letter of reprimand.

“The reprimand addressed the unprofessional comments the soldier made during the video, and the fact that he shared the video with others, which resulted in it being posted to social media by an unknown individual,” said Christian Marquardt, a 7th ATC spokesman.

A video of the incident has been viewed more than a million times on YouTube.