Marines recovering from training accident on howitzer in use in Afghanistan
BAMBERG, Germany — Five of the 10 servicemembers injured in an apparent explosion at Fort Bragg, N.C., during an artillery training exercise Monday have been released from the hospital, according to a 2nd Marine Division press release.
The others remain at Womack Army Medical Center on Fort Bragg, the release states. No names have been released.
The eight Marines and two sailors are assigned to Camp Lejeune, N.C., and are members of Battery G, 2nd Battalion, 10th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division. The incident is under investigation by several organizations, the release states.
Most of the injuries were from shrapnel wounds after an apparent premature detonation by an M777A2 155mm howitzer during Exercise Rolling Thunder, according to Marine spokesman Staff Sgt. Jayson Price.
The M777A2 is the newest artillery piece in the U.S. military’s inventory and is currently being used by frontline troops in Afghanistan, including the 2nd Stryker Combat Regiment out of Vilseck, Germany.
When asked if troops were suspending use of the weapon in the wake of the accident, Maj. Rob Hoover, public affairs officer for 2nd SCR, wrote in an e-mail that it was not and the unit has not experienced any problems with it.
“Supporting the soldiers on the ground with indirect fire is a very important part of saving the lives in a combat zone,” he wrote.
The M777A2 is a lightweight and portable howitzer that replaced the 1970s-era M-198 towed howitzers in June 2009. The weapon system can fire rocket-assisted ammunition at targets up to 18 miles away. A typical battery of the cannons consists of six howitzers that can cover an area of nearly 2,000 square miles. The guns also fire the super-accurate GPS guided Excalibur round.
The training has been going on since March 9 and was suspended after the accident.