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One Dead, Seven Hurt in Second Accident During Maneuvers

June 25, 1987

FORT HOOD, Texas (AP) _ War-game accidents are inevitable, military officials said after a tank mistakenly fired on another tank, killing a National Guardsman and bringing the death toll during current maneuvers to 11.

Tuesday’s tank accident, which also injured seven guardsmen, came one day after a military helicopter flying at tree-top level crashed and burned, killing all 10 reservists and guardsmen aboard.

The accidents occured during the two-week Starburst ’87 training maneuvers. National Guard officials said the games are made as safe as possible.

″In spite of this, we’re going to have some accidents,″ said Maj. Gen. James B. McGoodwin, commander of the 49th Armored Division of the Texas National Guard. ″We know this. We minimize this as best we can.″

National Guardsmen are aware of the hazards of duty, said Dan Donohue, spokesman for the National Guard Bureau in the Pentagon.

″Yes, we do kill people, but we have an enviable track record,″ he said.

In Tuesday night’s accident, the M-60 tank was firing at a camouflaged target about 1,000 yards away, but the 152mm gun launcher went too far to the left, firing a round at two other tanks that were illuminating the area with infrared searchlights, McGoodwin said.

The guardsman killed in the accident was standing outside the tank when the round was fired, McGoodwin said. The victim’s name was withheld pending notification of relatives.

Starburst ’87 exercises, training maneuvers that include about 13,000 Texas National Guard soldiers and 5,000 soldiers from Army reserve support units, will continue as planned through the first week of July, said Maj. Bill Coleman.

Investigators are still looking into the helicopter crash that littered 2 1/2 acres with wreckage Monday morning. Officials said the investigation will take at least six weeks.

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