In a video that’s made its way around the internet in recent years, three Humvees being airdropped from the back of a U.S. Army C-130 over Germany are shown free-falling to their destruction, their parachutes failing to open on their decent. The star of the video, aside from the obliterated Humvees, was the voices of observers, cheering on the destruction of the vehicles as they looked on in awe. One of those observers, a Sergeant First Class assigned to the 7th ATC’s Joint Multinational Readiness Center, was issued a formal letter of reprimand for his behavior in the video.
Now, however, the real star of the 1.5 million view YouTube sensation has been revealed: Sgt. John T. Skipper — the soldier that cut the parachute chords on the three Humvees that plummeted to their doom.
Skipper was charged with three counts of “destroying military property with a value of more than $500” and providing a false official statement in May and convicted by court martial this past Wednesday. His sentence included a reduction in rank from Sergeant to Private and a Bad Conduct Discharge, though the severity of his crimes permitted even harsher penalties, including a forfeit of all pay and allowances and even up to ten years in prison. A bad conduct discharge, while not as severe as a dishonorable discharge, results in a forfeit of nearly all veterans benefits. They are only applicable to enlisted service members and are discharged via court martial.
Soon after the video made its way onto the internet, the story that surfaced to coincide with the failed drops insinuated that some sort of malfunction was the cause of the destruction of the Humvees, which can cost upwards of $200,000, each, to replace. As a result, the soldiers that can be heard in the video, audibly excited by the spectacle, drew the ire of most that found the video to be a poor representation of America’s armed forces. Now, it would appear that the “malfunction” narrative originated with Skipper, who was responsible for ensuring the Humvees were prepared for the drop.