Three hale and hearty young men had finished their basic training. Before heading out to their respective assignments, they decided to spend their few days of leave with one's grandmother, who lived in the town where they had completed basic training. The privates descended upon Grandmother, who filled them with home cooking and gave them soft beds to sleep in. Grandmother had a swing job to make ends meet, so the privates were left alone late into the night.
How could they repay her for her kindness?
Grandmother had three children. To commemorate the birth of each child, a pine tree had been planted in the front yard. In the fifty years since the last tree was planted, the pines had grown considerably, and the middle tree now blocked the view from the living room window. The privates decided that they would cut down that tree, letting the sun and the view into the room.
A case of beer went into the planning.
To keep the 50-foot tree from crushing the house, the privates reasoned that they would tie a rope to the top of the tree and pull the rope away from the house as the tree was cut.
The middle pine tree, the doomed one, was slightly closer to the house than the other two. The privates climbed an end tree, wound a rope through its upper branches, and threw the rope to a private in the middle tree. He tied the rope around the trunk. By this device, they could pull the rope from the ground. The middle pine tree would fall away from the house, and the privates were also clear of the path of the falling tree.
Climbing a pine tree is very sappy work, and scrapes and gouges are inflicted by the natural roughness of its bark. But the hale and hearty privates completed the preliminaries without complaint. The middle tree was lassoed and levered by the rope running through the end tree.
So far, so good.
Two privates were situated on the ground, each straining to pull the tree away from Grandmother's house. The third private revved his 20 HP chainsaw and started to cut. Lo and behold, the tree actually fell away from Grandmother's house! However...
The rope-pulling privates had wrapped the rope around their waists, not considering that the falling pine weighed several tons. As the middle pine tree fell, both privates were ripped off their feet and smashed through the branches of the end pine tree. At the height of their acceleration, they broke through the top branches of the tree, and were briefly airborne before being jerked toward the earth when the middle tree hit the ground. The privates entered into Darwin history, either on the way up through the branches or on the way down to the cold, hard ground.
The event spoke for itself.
"Can't see the forest..."
"Sometimes the bark is worse than a bite."
"This is what happens when soldiers don't have officer supervision."
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Reference: Eyewitness Account by an 30-year career MD, who attended the aftermath in person.