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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted at 6:45 p.m., Friday, March 10, 2006

5 GIs hurt on Big Island

By William Cole
Advertiser Military Writer

Five Schofield Barracks soldiers were injured late this afternoon in a training accident at Pohakuloa Training Area on the Big Island, an Army official said.

The soldiers were taken to Hilo Medical Center. No information was immediately available on their condition or the training accident, said spokesman Kendrick Washington.

Hawai'i soldiers are conducting live-fire training on the Big Island in preparation for a summer deployment to Iraq.

The 109,000-acre Pohakuloa Training Area is used by multiple military services for aircraft and ground troop training. The Army wants to buy from Parker Ranch about 23,000 adjoining acres for Stryker Brigade training.

Soldiers with the 325th Brigade Support Battalion, a unit heading to Iraq, recently spent 25 days at PTA and participated in night and day convoy training involving simulated roadside bombs, pop-up targets, and live-fire exercises.

The "Mustangs" of the 325th also conducted machine-gun qualifications and practiced driving military vehicles. More than 200,000 rounds of ammunition were fired and the soldiers covered thousands of miles during the training.

Troop maneuvers on the Big Island have been stepped up after a federal court's Feb. 2 decision rejecting an Army bid to resume live-fire training in Makua Valley on O'ahu, saying the service must abide by federal environmental law that requires a comprehensive study of the effects of more than 60 years of military training in the valley.

Schofield helicopters regularly transport soldiers and equipment to the Big Island.

Reach William Cole at wcole@honoluluadvertiser.com or 525-5459.