HOHENFELS, Germany — When a roadside bomb exploded under 16th Military Police Brigade Command Sgt. Maj. Jeffrey A. Butler’s armored Humvee during a recent patrol in Baghdad, the vehicle rolled three times.

Butler, who survived along with his driver, gunner and a passenger, passed on lessons learned from the attack to other soldiers through a video shown to Joint Multinational Readiness Command personnel during a safety stand-down Wednesday at Hohenfels.

The Humvee rollover briefing came days after The Dayton (Ohio) Daily News reported data from the Army’s Ground Accident database showing 85 soldiers died and 337 were injured in Humvee accidents in Iraq between March 2003 and November 2005, including 60 deaths and 149 injuries in rollovers.

Butler said his Humvee fishtailed after it was hit by the IED.

“We rolled three complete times and landed on our wheels in the opposite direction to the way we were traveling,” he said in the video, which featured footage of the vehicle burning moments after the explosion.

One lesson the MPs learned from the incident was the importance of wearing seat belts, something soldiers downrange are sometimes reluctant to do because they don’t want their movement restricted, Butler said.

When the Humvee rolled, Butler and his passenger, who were both wearing seat belts, and the gunner stayed inside the vehicle, but the driver, who was not wearing a seat belt, was thrown out of his door. He sustained a concussion and a cut requiring 10 stitches.

Another lesson was to “battle-lock” the vehicle’s doors. That might have prevented the explosion from blasting open the driver’s door. It also protects against an attacker who might open a door and throw something inside, Butler added.

However, doors should not be battle-locked when driving near bodies of water because of the need for soldiers to quickly get out of a vehicle during a rollover into water, he said.

Other tips offered in the video included:

Loose objects inside a Humvee should be tied down, Butler said. Most of the injuries suffered by his gunner were caused by objects flying around inside the vehicle when it rolled.

Soldiers in Humvees should wear eye protection and hearing protection to shield their ears from possible damage from a loud explosion, he said.

Drivers should keep the key in the lock that secures their vehicle’s radios and other electronic equipment while driving so the gear can be retrieved if there is a fire. When Butler’s Humvee caught fire after the attack, the crewmembers who were still conscious could not find the key, which was in the unconscious driver’s pocket. As a result, the radios were destroyed, he said.

Butler also emphasized the importance of rollover drills in mission rehearsals and talking about road conditions and recent attacks in the area prior to moving out.

Motorcycle instructor Bob McGaffin, who hosted the Humvee portion of the safety day, said Humvee safety was particularly important for soldiers working at Hohenfels.

“We have a big problem with rollovers here,” he said.

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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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