CENTRAL IRAQ - Two tanker trucks crashed Saturday night as a convoy moved through darkness and dust, injuring three 319th Transportation Company soldiers, who were flown from the area by medical helicopters.
Another tanker truck ran off the road and became stuck in the side of a sand berm.
Roughly half of the 319th's remaining fleet was traveling through hostile territory with full tanks toward a fuel depot close to the front lines.
The soldiers were awakened at 4:30 a.m. for the convoy, which was to leave as early as 6 a.m. It did not pull out of Camp Viper until 2:30 p.m.
The wrecks occurred at dusk, about 7:30 p.m., as the convoy's Marine escorts led the trucks at speeds between 30 and 40 mph - kicking up thick clouds of sand .
The convoy was traveling without headlights, a procedure known as "blackout drive," which serves not only to hide the trucks from enemy soldiers but also to keep light away from Marines on guard duty using night-vision goggles.
The soldiers did not appear to be seriously injured. All three were conscious and talking before they were taken away.
One tanker truck had driven into a culvert, its cab landing on top of its tank.
Another truck overturned on the side of a berm, landing on its right side and the tank leaking diesel fuel.
The overturned truck and the one stuck in the sand berm were in a section of the convoy that was separated from its Marine escorts when the crashes occurred.
The truck that ran into the culvert was in the rear, and the Marines were with that one.
Some members of the 319th tended to a specialist who had injured his back in the overturned truck, while others formed a perimeter. Two soldiers ran to a nearby Marine guard post to summon medical helicopters. No soldiers were injured in the truck that was stuck in the berm.
A male sergeant and a female specialist, both in the truck that ran into the culvert, were flown out to a medical camp.
The Marines decided to halt the convoy until daylight to avoid any more accidents.