Who's laughing now? Well, instead of using an empty magazines, he thought it would be OK to put the dummy rounds on top of the two rounds in a magazines.
On a cold morning in February, I'd taken half the platoon to swim qualifications (I was also participating). In the middle of a stage where I had to tread water for 30 minutes, one of the instructors came poolside and told me I had an urgent phone call. Frustrated, I climbed out of the water and, dripping wet, walked to the office and picked up the phone.
An out-of-breath Marine told me to come to the armory-someone had been shot. "Call 911!" I said and hung up. Knowing my S-4 chief could get there more quickly, I called him to go investigate. Thoughts raced through my head-what could have happened? Feeling a sense of urgency, I started to run out of the office, only to slip and fall in my own puddle. Angry, cussing and feeling stupid, I went to see what had happened.
One of the armorers whom I believed to be one of my more trustworthy Marines had decided to function check his weapon with some dummy rounds I had stored in the safe. Doesn't that seem harmless?
Well, instead of using an empty magazine, he thought it would be OK to put the dummy rounds on top of the live rounds in a magazine he already had out for security purposes. Then he did something even more brainless: He pointed the weapon at a new Marine in the armory and pulled the trigger. He thought it was hilarious to see the new Marine jump, scream like a girl and nearly have a heart attack.
After a good laugh, he planned to take the dummy rounds out and put them away, but instead of releasing the magazine and emptying the rounds from the magazine, he decided to rack the weapon back a few more times to extract the rounds. He lost count of how many dummy rounds he had put in the magazine, racked the weapon one too many times and shot himself in the left hand.
To make matters worse, the bullet ricocheted off the concrete floor, hit a .50 caliber machine gun near the charging handle, and "welded" itself to the gun. Since this made the machine gun inoperable, an expenditure report was necessary. And he cried in pain during the four stitches it took to sew up the hole in his hand.
I had mixed feelings at his court martial, thinking of all the good he had done for the battalion, but at the same time feeling mad as hell that he would do something so stupid. The charges: destruction of government property, assault, and dereliction of duty. He spent 60 days in the brig, was busted to private and lost half pay for two months. I also had to de-certify him in the arms, ammunitions, and explosives program, which meant he could no longer do his job. When he got out of the brig, he had to finish his contract as a clerk answering phones in the S-4 shop. He wasn't laughing anymore.
The author: GySgt. Allison is a weapons and ammunition analyst at the Naval Safety Center