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PPE gives Laughlin rider second chance
Airman 1st Class Randy Mullis, 47th Operations Support Squadron radar approach control operator, poses with the helmet that saved his life at Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas, Oct. 23, 2013. Recently, Mullis was thrown from his bike during an accident, landing head-first into a boulder near the road. According to the doctors that tended to Mullis, he would not have survived the crash if he was not wearing his helmet that day. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman John D. Partlow)
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PPE gives Laughlin rider second chance

Posted 10/25/2013   Updated 10/25/2013 Email story   Print story


by Senior Airman John D. Partlow
47th Flying Training Wing Public Affairs

10/25/2013 - LAUGHLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- The motorcycle has minor damage, such as a broken foot peg, busted mirror, ruined carburetor and several cosmetic scratches; yet its rider, Airman 1st Class Randy Mullis, is lucky to be alive.

Mullis, a radar approach control operator with the 47th Operations Support Squadron, was recently riding on Highway 335, 336, and 337. These highways, located in what is known as "Texas Hill Country", are also known as the "Twisted Sisters" for their tight turns around blind corners.

"When I approached one of the final turns, I just did everything wrong," said Mullis. "I was distracted, I slowed down, I target-fixated, my bike wouldn't lean because I didn't speed up... things didn't look pretty."

It was then that Mullis ran off the road and into the ravine lining the street, getting thrown from his bike and landing on a boulder... head first.

"The doctor said I would be dead if I weren't wearing my helmet," said Mullis. "I felt the intense impact on my helmet and my visor was smashed to pieces, but overall I was fine."

Luckily, Mullis was riding with the military motorcycle club he is vice president of, the Green Knights.

"It was fortunate Mullis was with other people," said Master Sgt. Joey Husted, 47th Security Forces Squadron patrolman and Green Knights ride director. "There wasn't any cell phone service where he crashed, but with the other guys there, they were able to get him medical attention as soon as possible."

According to the Air Force Safety Center, 77 airmen have been killed in motorcycle accidents in the past five fiscal years, and according to the 47th Flying Training Wing Safety office, three Team XL servicemembers have died from motorcycle accidents in the past 10 years.

"Situations like this remind people to dress for the crash, not the ride," said Husted. "That could have been any one of us on the ride. We always have to be prepared for the fact that it may be one day."

With the crash behind him and his motorcycle in the shop, Mullis is eager to get back on his bike and don his gear with a new found respect.

"I can't wait to get back on and ride," said Mullis. "This experience has changed my perspective on riding and what role my PPE really has."

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