A 173rd Airborne Brigade soldier was convicted Wednesday of being responsible for the destruction of three Humvees that plummeted to the earth during a 2016 training exercise, an event captured on video that became an internet sensation and an embarrassment to the Army.
Sgt. John Skipper, 29, was found guilty at court martial in Vilseck, Germany, of destroying military property and giving a false official statement, according to a statement from the 7th Army Training Command, based in Grafenwoehr.
Skipper was sentenced by a military jury to a bad-conduct discharge and reduction in grade to E-1.
Skipper, a scout who had been assigned to assist the brigade’s Italy-based parachute riggers during the exercise, intentionally cut parachute straps on three Humvees included in the heavy drop during the exercise, the jury found.
Skipper is assigned to B Troop, 1st Squadron, 91st Cavalry Regiment (Airborne) in Grafenwoehr, Germany. The squadron is part of the 173rd Airborne Brigade headquartered in Vicenza, Italy.
Skipper was criminally charged a year ago.
His sentence could have been harsher. Willful destruction of government property carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison, a dishonorable discharge and forfeiture of all pay and allowances under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Negligent destruction carries a maximum punishment of a year in prison, a bad-conduct discharge and forfeiture of all pay and allowances.
Skipper was the second soldier to be punished in the incident.
A sergeant first class heard laughing and cursing on a video of the Humvees falling from the sky was punished previously. The sergeant, an observer trainer coach assigned to the 7th ATC’s Joint Multinational Readiness Center, was given an administrative letter of reprimand.