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Report: Wounded GI Insists Three Buddies Killed By American Tank

March 14, 1991

DARMSTADT, Germany (AP) _ A U.S. soldier who lost a leg in the Persian Gulf is now fighting to convince the Army that three dead war buddies were killed by the same American tank that wounded him, Stars and Stipes reports.

The semi-official army newspaper on Wednesday quoted Staff Sgt. Hilbert Potter as saying three members of his engineering unit were accidentally killed by an American M1 Abrams tank three days into the ground war.

He said the accident occurred during a nighttime skirmish with Iraqis.

Army Capt. Steve Rego, a spokesman with the U.S. Central Command in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, said preliminary investigations show two of the soldiers were killed by Iraqi land mines and the third by enemy fire, the newspaper said.

However, the newspaper also quoted Army Lt. Col. Charles Willey, spokesman for the Army contingent in the gulf, as saying investigators have not ruled out that the deaths may have resulted from friendly fire.

″There’s an investigation that is ongoing, and while it is ongoing it would be inappropriate for me to say anything,″ the newspaper quoted Willey as saying.

According to Stars and Stripes, Potter said his personnel carrier’s driver was killed by an Abrams main gun round on Feb. 26. He was quoted as saying two other soldiers were killed by an Abrams machine gun when they tried to signal they were Americans.

Potter said he and two others were wounded by the machine-gun fire, the newspaper reported. Potter, assigned to the 82nd Engineering Battalion in Bamberg, Germany, is recuperating in an Army hospital in Germany.

According to the newspaper, 30-year-old Potter has no doubt about how his buddies died. ″It was an M1. I know when I see an M1,″ he was quoted as saying.

The newspaper identified the three killed as Sgt. Dodge Powell and Sgt. William A. Strehlow, both 28, and 20-year-old Pfc. Aaron W. Howard.

Of the 121 Americans listed as killed in action during the six-week war, at least 10 were killed by friendly fire, according to numbers provided previously by U.S. military sources.

In addition, nine Britons were killed Feb. 26 when an American A-10 warplane accidentally attacked two British armored vehicles.

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