Humvee casualties tracked mostly by word of mouth
The military does not keep official statistics on Humvee casualties, according to officials at the Combined Press Information Center in Baghdad.
“We don’t break down attack numbers by type to such a specific degree,” Staff Sgt. Don Dees wrote in an e-mail.
A spokesman with Army Materiel Command said he did not know how many Humvee gunners had been struck by ordnance before or after they unveiled the metal gun shields in July. “Those numbers are just not there,” AMC’s Carl Johnson said.
Despite concerns over safety, many gunners say it’s their favorite duty. While with the 3rd Infantry Division’s 2nd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment, “you had to fight for one of the gunner spots,” said Spc. Joshua Forman, 21.
Some gunners, like Sgt. John Maltby, 25, praised the Humvee’s armor and said it has probably saved a lot of gunners’ lives.
“I don’t know a lot of gunners getting killed unless they’re standing up,” said Maltby, a gunner with the 3rd Infantry Division’s 3rd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment.
But most gunners said that they do stand, either to survey the road or to avoid sitting in their uncomfortable slings.
A lieutenant colonel who did not wish to be identified said he attended a meeting this year where an Army general asked his staff why they were losing so many gunners. They were considering doing a study when he raised his hand.
“I asked them, ‘Have any of you stood up in one of the turrets? When you do, it’s obvious why. You’re vulnerable,’” he recalled.
Regardless of the exact number, there are obvious needs for improvement, said gunner Cpl. James Lawler, 39, a New Jersey National Guardsman.
“I’m sure they’re losing enough gunners by now to realize that something is going on and we’ve got to act,” Lawler said.