Charles Darwin at a green chalkboard.

2002 Darwin Awards

Honoring Charles Darwin, the father of evolution, Darwin Awards commemorate those who improve our gene pool--by removing themselves from it in the most spectacular way possible.

Rocket Tester
2002 Darwin Award Winner
Confirmed True by Darwin

(8 June 1983, North Carolina) The Army base at Fort Bragg has seen its share of military "accidents," including the following, a true story and an object lesson often recounted on explosive device ranges to teach soldiers a basic safety lesson: LEAVE A DUD ROUND WHERE IT LIES.

At the LAW (Light Anti-Tank Weapon) range, soldiers are afforded the rare privilege of firing a real LAW round, although the test rounds are smaller, and not armed with the full explosive power of the actual LAWs. They have an orange chalk warhead, and resemble a model rocket.

One day, the designated Range Safety Officer, Sergeant Lowe, was assigned the job of setting up the moving target with the assistance of a 3-man detail. "The installation of the target on the carrier was hampered by the absence of proper tools," so they improvised, and used a steel tent peg as a hammer to nail the target to the carrier.

While walking on the firing range, Sgt. Lowe spotted and picked up a M72A2 66mm LAW dud round that had not exploded upon impact with the target. The other men in the detail warned him to leave it on the ground, and let the EOD (Explosive Ordnance Detachment) handle it. Sgt Lowe replied, "Its just an old dud," and, to illustrate the innocuous nature of the round, began to strike it with the steel tent peg.

The second strike tripped the pressure-sensitive piezoelectric detonator, causing the round to explode. The explosion tore off Sgt. Lowe's left arm, parts of his right hand, and inflicted fatal wounds to his lungs and abdominal area.

Instead of the EOD, a medical evacuation aircraft was dispatched from the hospital, and an Army Forensics Team arrived to literally scoop up the remains of the former "Range Safety Officer."

Always remember, leave a dud round where it lies!

Share © 1994 - 2022
Submitted by: Eric T. Deem
Reference: Reference: US Army Safety Incidents and Reports #19830608001

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