Soldiers attended classes about cyber, motorcycle, heat and water safety during Thursday’s post-wide safety stand down day.

The training comes at a crucial time following the apparent drownings of two Fort Hood soldiers in July at Lake Waco and Stillhouse Hollow Lake.

Staff Sgt. Michael Hank, a noncommissioned officer in 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, taught a course about water safety at Ironhorse Chapel, where he advised soldiers who are weak swimmers or who do not know how to swim to stay in shallow waters. He also stressed the importance of not heavily drinking while participating in water activities.

“Just because you’re out having fun, don’t drink and do dumb (stuff),” Hank said. “That’s what it come down to. ... Alcohol and swimming just doesn’t mix. You’ll get tired faster.”

During his presentation, Hank said 25 percent of drownings at Belton and Stillhouse Hollow lakes are soldiers or their dependents and almost all of those who died knew how to swim.

“Soldiers go out and get hurt without even thinking (that something could happen to them),” said Staff Sgt. Richard Howell, 1st Brigade Combat Team, after teaching a motorcycle safety course.

So far this year, at least four Fort Hood soldiers died in motorcycle accidents, according to Fort Hood news releases.

Hank said it’s important for soldiers to do a risk assessment for all of the potentially dangerous decisions, such as riding a motorcycle.

“Some people might get trained on a smaller bike and then go ride a friend’s bigger bike,” Howell said. “They don’t know how to control that bike, so that’s how a lot of people get hurt. If you’re trained on one bike, make sure you don’t go out and ride something you’re not trained on.”

Sgt. Stephen Motta, 1st Combat Brigade, said the training was a great way to reinforce Army standards.

“The Army cares about its soldiers and we’re their biggest asset, so they just try to reinforce to us that we need to be safe, ... look out for each other and do the right thing,” Motta said. “We need to be able to perform our jobs. The activities that we choose to partake outside of work can affect how we’re able to work on a daily basis.”

Contact Sarah Rafique at or (254) 501-7549. Follow her on Twitter at KDHreporter.

I'm the education reporter at the Killeen Daily Herald. Follow me on Twitter at

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