Accident or … ?

April 24, 2006 8:53 AM

Australia has just got its first casualty in Iraq.

Private Jacob (Jake) Bruce Kovco was one of Australia’s most highly trained and respected snipers.

The 25-year-old father of two was today named as Australia’s first fatal casualty in the Iraq conflict – dying from an accidental shot to the head while cleaning a 9mm Browning automatic pistol on Friday afternoon.

More at Dead digger was elite sniper – National –

Here’s my questions though: how come a gun is loaded whilst it is being cleaned? Wouldn’t it be safer if it wasn’t? And is this a nicer way to spin the story than using the dreaded “suicide” word? No disrespect to Private Kovco’s family but how could a highly trained sniper make a mistake like that?

Anyone of you out there who knows guns, eg. Singaporeans who have gone through NS, please enlighten me.

15 thoughts on “Accident or … ?

  1. Zer0

    It could be a genuine accident if he forgot to check if the chamber was ‘clear’ before disassembling his handgun.

    Sounds like a suicide to me. Either that, or he was playing Russian Roulette.

  2. Yuuka

    My ex-army boyfriend tells me that according to protocol, they should have emptied the chambers before they clean it. Perhaps he cocked the gun previously, did not shoot that one bullet and then forgot about it when he cleared the bullets out (leaving that one still in the barrel-thing)? Tragic accident, really, what with the kids and widow – Unless it`s a story for covering up the true circumstances of his death (happens a lot in Singapore). War is just so dumb.

  3. mooiness Post author

    Zer0/Yuuka: re – chamber should have been empty, that’s what I thought. Isn’t that a core part about gun maintenance that would have been drilled into the soldiers?

    Also, how come the gun is pointed at his head when he’s cleaning it?

    All very highly coincidental occurences such that it leads me to think that it’s more than an accident.

  4. Rob

    maybe he was shot in the head by another soldier with a Browning 9mm while he was cleaning his own gun in yet another “friendly fire” incident.

  5. mooiness Post author

    Rob: nah can’t be friendly fire, it was indoors. And if he was shot by another soldier, that soldier would have been charged with manslaughter.

    spinnee: if you use your gun perhaps more so than the avg soldier (he’s a sniper), and you would probably clean it religiously to avoid jamming, you should know your gun like it’s part of your body. So hmm, I dunno.

  6. Christina

    Everyone I’ve spoken to about it say it was suicide. Honestly, if I was a soldier out there I’d probably consider suicide. They say he was highly trained and that. If he was highly trained, he shouldn’t have ‘forgotten’.

  7. impetuousman

    Every combat soldier ought know that the first thing to do before dismantling their arms is to check clear their rifles for any rounds. In any case, they should be cleared from any rounds by an officer even before they could clean their arms. That is in our context.
    Perhaps in that kind of environment, they have to carry rounds with them all the time. With all that pressure and fear, I wouldn’t doubt that any sane man could go morbid, and… comes a thing of the past.

  8. mooiness Post author

    emiriyo: I can understand slipping up in a combat situation. But he was back at base, cleaning his gun which would rank as something as natural as going to the toilet for him.

    So yeah, cover up … I can smell it. Though I guess it’s more comforting for the family to think it was an accident than not.

    impetuousman: Learning how to clean a gun is part of basic training so the general feeling is that this is more than an accident especially for an elite soldier. But we never knew what circumstances he was in, or what compelled him. And we’ll never know now.

  9. Pingback: Mooiness! » The year that was - my 2006, part 1

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