Mortar Use Oopsie


I saw this the other day over on the B-arfcom. As you can see in the video above, the guy is hanging a round at the muzzle then drops it and forgets the number one rule of using a mortar. i.e. don’t leave your hands over the muzzle. Or maybe the number one rule is don’t get hit by a mortar? Either way he broke both those rules.

Curious if he lost both the hands since it looks like two pieces of flapping skin after the oopsie, I tracked down an article about it.

an 88M truck driver who had hauled the ammunition to the range, wanted to take advantage of this unusual opportunity. However, he had never received training on the proper steps and procedures for dropping a mortar round into a tube. In addition, he had never been provided the appropriate level of primary instruction in firing a mortar system or received a safety brief. He was given a five-minute block of instruction on how and where to hold the round and to sweep the tube upon dropping it. Just five minutes of training …

The Soldier observed a couple of rounds being dropped for additional hands-on training. Then it was his turn. He approached the tube and base plate and received his instruction from the senior mortar man. The Soldier secured the 81 mm mortar from the gunner and was told to lift the round over the tube and drop it. What followed was chaos.

The Soldier performed every step of the task correctly except one: He failed to sweep the tube. The Soldier left his hands over the opening of the tube. When the round fired, it pushed through the opening of his hands. The fins on the bottom of the ammunition ripped through his hands and caused two large lacerations, one completely splitting his right hand in half like a hoagie sandwich bun, almost amputating his thumb. The Soldier was wearing gloves, which probably saved his left hand, but he lost all functionality in his right and eventually had his thumb amputated.

This incident resulted in a preventable Class B mishap. The major contributing factors include:

– Failure to recognize the risks involved with unqualified Soldiers firing ammunition
– Pressure to fire off every opened round to prevent a lengthy turn-in
– Failure to provide adequate training
– Failure to provide a safety brief to the injured Soldier
– Pressure to conduct a CALFEX in front of some of the top brass in the Army

There are commanders at all levels who are only focused on readiness, achieving Objective T and impressing the bosses to get that above-center-mass rating. Safety is not their primary focus. Until leaders at every echelon understand the importance of safety and implement it into all aspects of their training, mishaps will continue to degrade our readiness and impact our formations. Remember, readiness first, safety always!

Ok. Good tip, Safety first. Seems like they got a handle on the problem and it won’t happen again.

You know, I’m no 4 star general and have never fired a mortar, but even I knew you drop the round then run your empty hands down the tube to prevent this sort of thing. At least he didn’t lose both hands. Stupid does hurt though. I know this because I am really stupid and hurt myself an inordinate amount of times in any given week.

If you are like me and always want to see more grue, this link to the live leak version of the video has a shot of the after results at the end.


  1. The classes have to do with dollar value, injury/fatality count and impact on national security…I think…been a while since I took that training.

  2. It’s broken down like this:

    Class “A” is anything that costs over 2 million dollars, or which results in the loss of a manned aerial system, or causes a fatality/permanent total disability.

    Class “B” are things that cost between $500,000.00 and 2 million dollars, or which causes “Permanent
    partial disability, (or) Inpatient hospitalization of 3 or more personnel (does not include observation).”

    Link to: A17_DoD_Accident_Mishap_Classification_Tool_and_CSSO_List_Jan_2017_2.pdf

    I did Army Safety NCO stuff for multiple units over the course of my career. If you think this is the stupidest thing, ever…? Oh, boy, are you in for an unpleasant enlightenment. The stupidity is manifest, across all fields and branches. My own? Try a crew of unqualified idiots trying to create a “remote-fired MICLIC”, and who, having created a device that wouldn’t work, then chose to drive around with the hacked-off electrical cable to the rocket unshunted in the back of their vehicle pointed towards the cab of the vehicle, and who then shocked, shocked I tell you, that I had the temerity to lock them down and call QASAS when they brought them back to my field AHA and tried to turn them in as “misfires”. After having ignored all of the clearly delineated misfire procedures for a MICLIC that were in the Range Control SOP that they’d signed off on understanding…

    Fucking commander chose to intercede on behalf of these idiots after having rightly been called on the CG’s carpet for this bullshit going down. The stupid fucks should have been crucified on first principles for a.) mucking about with a complex and dangerous munition in the first place, and then b.) for the egregious stupidity of then taking the misfired munition they’d caused and driving around with it with unshunted cables that could have easily built up enough charge to fire the rocket, which was kept in their vehicle near troops, with a live MICLIC tub towed behind the vehicle. Whole thing was such egregious bullshit that I nearly had a fucking aneurysm as soon as I comprehended the level of their stupidity.

    Commander should have taken all concerned out, and shot them for the “dumb”, but he didn’t even have the balls to do a field-grade Article 15 on them. Mostly because he’d already been out on that range, and he and the CSM weren’t smart enough to know what they were looking at, and they’d both praised all concerned for their “initiative”.

    Addendum? The involved parties later killed people in Iraq and Afghanistan through other acts of equivalent stupidity. There are reasons that the EOD folks hold Combat Engineers in contempt, and I am ruefully embarrassed to have to admit that they have some good ones…

    Army Safety is a place where you can find all sorts of “interesting” issues, if you go back and delve through the records. The really disturbing thing is how you can trace through accident after accident that essentially have the same root cause in either equipment, training, or “MOS culture”.

    • that class A B and C stuff you just posted reminds me of a story Dad told about when he was in the Army and Vietnam. He told a story about some paratrooper doing something or other and caused another paratrooper to lose one of his legs from the knee down. Dad quipped that he was surprised that the army didnt toss the guy who lost the leg in jail and dock his pay for “destruction of army property”

Leave a Reply to Shawn Cancel reply

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here