Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes
This archived news story is available only for your personal, non-commercial use. Information in the story may be outdated or superseded by additional information. Reading or replaying the story in its archived form does not constitute a republication of the story.
HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah (AP) -- A soldier who was in an SUV that was shot by an F-16 during a training exercise said the 20 mm cannon rounds caused a "blinding flash" before he and another soldier scrambled out and took cover.
The shooting on April 8 at the Utah Test and Training Range is detailed in a 178-page military report obtained by the Standard-Examiner in Ogden and The Salt Lake Tribune through Freedom of Information Act requests.
Sgt. 1st Class James T. Walker III and 1st Lt. Jared Cox were in the SUV when the fighter pilot, who was targeting an old armored personnel carrier, opened fire.
"I had the radio in my hand when the Suburban exploded with a blinding flash. The glass from the driver's side window hit my left hand and face and knocked me over," Cox said in the report. "At this point, we heard the second aircraft coming around in our direction. SFC Walker yelled to get out."
The Suburban was hit five times by the incendiary rounds, but none hit Cox or Walker. Cox had cuts on his face and hand from the shattered glass and Walker dislocated a shoulder, according to the report. They were visiting from Fort Lewis in Washington state and were supposed to supposed to be part of a convoy that was leaving the targeted area, but got delayed and were not with the other vehicles.
Cox said he was about to call to get clearance when the mistaken pilot, Maj. John Erickson, started shooting.
Erickson, assistant director of operations for the 34th Fighter Squadron at Hill Air Force Base, told investigators that the view through his night-vision goggles looked "wacky" but that he thought he was on target and fired the cannons.
Erickson was faulted by the Air Force for the training accident, which left the rented SUV with gaping holes along the driver's side.
The investigator noted that Erickson was open with his answers during the investigation. A few portions of the report were blacked out, including the recommendations section. Hill officials said in June that Erickson had been subjected to remedial training and was temporarily grounded.
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)