One common ingredient of every liberty brief is a senior enlisted service member, standing center stage in front of junior personnel in a sit-kneel-stand circle, bellowing warnings about dos and don’ts so outlandish they are inevitably met with scoffs of those in attendance.
“You know the only reason I bring this up is because it’s been done before,” the top would say, no matter the perceived insanity of the scenario.
One 32-year-old soldier provided even more obscure material for lengthy liberty brief orators Wednesday when he climbed over a safety railing near an active volcano to get a closer look — and promptly tumbled from the 300-foot cliff and into the Kīlauea caldera after losing his footing.
The soldier, who survived the fall, was located a little over two hours later on a ledge 70 feet below the cliff edge, according to a statement from the National Park Service.
“Visitors should never cross safety barriers, especially around dangerous and destabilized cliff edges,” said Chief Ranger and common sense aficionado John Broward.
“Crossing safety barriers and entering closed areas can result in serious injuries and death.”
A rescue crew of military personnel, fire rescue and rangers from Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park extracted the seriously injured man from the Kīlauea caldera after rigging a litter to a military helicopter that had been dispatched from Pohakuloa Training Area.
The volcano, which is not currently erupting according to the National Park Service, is the same one that destroyed more than 700 homes in 2018.
One person died in the same park after falling from a cliff edge in October 2017.
The soldier, who is based at Hawai’i’s Schofield Barracks, is being treated at the Hilo Medical Center.
Jon Simkins is a writer and editor for Military Times, and a USMC veteran.