The Air Force is investigating the deaths of two airmen who died in separate military Humvee crashes in the past two months.
Both were 19-year-old members of Air Force units tasked with guarding the nation’s nuclear missile fields across Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, Colorado and Nebraska where Humvees are used on patrols.
Airman Trinity Reinhart, of the 90th Missile Security Forces Squadron at F.E. Warren Air Force Base in Wyoming, died Sept. 16 in an accident in a Colorado nuclear missile field near the Wyoming border, the base said.
Reinhart “will always be remembered for her enthusiastic outlook on life, her compassionate heart, her selfless devotion to her nation and her determined resolve to defend the freedoms we all enjoy,” 90th Missile Wing Chaplain Capt. Hiram Miller said in an Oct. 12 release.
Another airman survived the crash without serious injuries, the Air Force said.
About a month later, Airman Alton John, of the 341st Missile Security Forces Squadron at Montana’s Malmstrom AFB, was hospitalized following a highway rollover south of the base, according to local news reports.
John died of his injuries on Oct. 27, the base said in a Nov. 1 release. Another airman was hurt but stable following the mishap.
Citing the Montana Highway Patrol, local CBS affiliate KRTV reported Nov. 1 that the Humvee was turning right when the driver heavily braked, pushing the vehicle across the center line.
“The driver over-corrected to the left, sending the vehicle into a spin and off the road,” KRTV reported. “The vehicle then rolled several times.”
Drugs and alcohol were not factors in the crash, the highway patrol said.
“This is a loss that will be greatly felt by each and every member of Team Malmstrom,” 341st Missile Wing commander Col. Barry Little said in the Nov. 1 release. “Our main focus will be continuing support to our injured airman, the affected family members, and providing them with all the services available to work through this difficult time.”
In both cases, the Air Force has not said what the airmen were doing in the Humvees when the accidents occurred. The service will probe those circumstances in monthslong investigations that are now underway.
The airmen are the latest troops killed in connection with Humvee crashes despite a yearslong push by military families, lawmakers and the Pentagon to avoid future fatalities.
A 2021 Government Accountability Office report found that 123 people had died in nearly 4,000 ground vehicle accidents in the Army and Marine Corps between fiscal 2010 and 2019. Humvees were involved in more of those accidents than any other type of tactical vehicle, and rollovers accounted for nearly two-thirds of the total crashes, the watchdog said.
At least nine airmen have died in government-owned motor vehicle accidents since October 2018, according to Air Force Safety Center data.
The U.S. military is in the process of replacing a portion of its four-decade-old Humvee fleet with the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle, which offers a faster, more secure and smoother ride for ground troops. The Air Force plans to buy nearly 2,100 JLTVs.
Rachel Cohen is the editor of Air Force Times. She joined the publication as its senior reporter in March 2021. Her work has appeared in the Washington Post, the Frederick News-Post (Md.), Air and Space Forces Magazine, Inside Defense, Inside Health Policy and elsewhere.