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July 2014 #4: How “Riding Off Road” Becomes “Flying Off Vehicle

1. Welcome to the latest edition of the Summary of Mishaps, in which another trio learns how “ATV” actually stands for “Anyone Tossed-off Violently” and that ditches aren’t included in the definition of “terrain.”

A. An E-5 machinist’s mate was riding a dirt bike in a field of very tall grass. He possessed, the report said, 2 years and 8 months of experience. That sounded sufficient to me, until I found out it wasn’t enough to warn him that a field apparently full of tall grass might just possibly contain or hide other elements of interest to a dirt biker, namely a ditch. The bike planted its front wheel and ejected the E-5 over the handlebars. He suffered injuries to his shoulder and knee, along with the good old “multiple surface wounds and bruises.”

I’d like to share the following five letters with every dirt biker and ATV rider in the Navy and Marine Corps: R-E-C-O-N. Paint it on your gas tank. Write it on the back of your gloves.

B. Second verse, same as the first. An E-5 in Nevada was riding a dirt bike “over unfamiliar terrain,” the report said. The ground was soft and level, and the speedometer read 40 miles per hour when he arrived at (but didn’t see in time to react to) a ditch. He, too, went flying, injuring his hip. After a day in a hospital, he was away from work for two weeks and on light duty for two and a half months.

C. Here’s another, this one involving a corporal in California who was riding an ATV off base in the desert. He was duly togged out with a helmet, faceshield, gloves and boots. He had five years of experience riding ATVs. Nevertheless, when he rode into some rough terrain, the ATV bounced him around enough so that his foot slipped off the foot peg and his knee hit it. Must have been a sharp, because his jeans weren’t sturdy enough to save him from a 19-suture laceration.

He had been “operating the ATV in a safe manner,” the report said.

If you say so. Maybe it’s all relative.

2. That all for this episode, sports fans. See you on the flip side.

Got a Funnies-worthy yarn? Need to get something off your chest? We welcome your feedback:

Read the author's blog, "Beyond the Friday Funnies." If you have a question about some of our odd terminology, become an insider by studying up on our Glossary. And if you have even more time to kill, here's the exhibit list from the Summary of Mishaps Museum.

Last Revision: July 28, 2014