For U.S. Marines: Motorcycles Deadlier Than Iraq

More Marines have died on motorcycles than in Iraq so far this year. Just under 10 percent of Marines own high-speed sport bikes, and no one knows why the corps is so plagued by serious accidents. The military brass is so concerned that officials have scheduled a meeting to address the issue.

From Larry Shaughnessy
CNN Pentagon Producer

Twenty-five Marines have died in motorcycle crashes since last November — all but one of them involving sport bikes that can reach speeds of well over 100 mph, according to Marine officials. In that same period, 20 Marines have been killed in action in Iraq.
The 25 deaths are the highest motorcycle death toll ever for the Marine Corps.
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Gen. James Amos, the assistant commandant of the Marine Corps, told CNN that commanders are trying to drill down on what “we need to do to help our Marines survive on these sport bikes.”
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“The Marines are very serious about it,” he said.
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Marine Gunnery Sgt. Art Tucker knows all too well about the dangers of sport bikes. An owner of a Kawasaki Ninja, Tucker has had two crashes, and the second one nearly killed him.

Despite crashes, Gunnery Sgt. Art Tucker rides a sport motorcycle. "I enjoy it. ... It relaxes me," he says.

Above: Despite crashes, Gunnery Sgt. Art Tucker rides a sport motorcycle. “I enjoy it. … It relaxes me,” he says.
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“I sustained a broken collar bone, I tore the shoulder out of the socket, I tore three ligaments in the shoulder, the rotator cuff, I broke three vertebrae,” said Tucker, a drill instructor for new officers.
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“The worst was a head injury I received: a bruised brain. And it caused hemorrhaging, and from that I had partial paralysis of the left leg, full paralysis of the left foot and toes, and that was for approximately six months.”
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Amos said he and other top Marine officials will spend half the day Monday “focusing on nothing but motorcycle issues.” The commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. James Conway, and other senior leadership will attend the meeting at the Quantico, Virginia, Marine base, he said.
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About 18,000 of the nearly 200,000 Marines are believed to own motorcycles, Amos said.
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The Marines have taken some measures. The Marine Corps has had a long-standing policy for all Marines who ride motorcycles to take a mandatory basic riding course. More recently, it added a second training course specifically designed to train Marines who ride sport bikes.
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Any Marine caught riding, even on leave, without going through the training courses faces Marine Corps punishment, officials say.
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On a recent day at the Quantico training track, Marines whizzed by on their bikes.
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