You want a safety brief? Because this is how you get a safety brief.
For once, it wasn’t a hammered specialist or terminal lance corporal, but a junior officer with more than a decade in the U.S. armed forces who made headlines (and, yes, definitely the local police blotter) by taking state police on a drug-fueled chase down Virginia highways in a stolen personnel carrier.
At around 7:50 p.m. on Tuesday, 1st Lt. Joshua Phillip Yabut — a 29-year-old guardsman and Afghanistan veteran with the Petersburg-based Headquarters Company, 276th Engineer Battalion, — took a joy ride in an M577 armored command vehicle, and led state police on a lengthy pursuit, the Virginia National Guard told Task & Purpose in a statement.
Apparently, Yabut's unit was conducting routine training at Fort Pickett when he absconded with the Vietnam-era armored personnel carrier. While the vehicle was not equipped with any weapons, the soldier was packing his personal firearm, though he had no ammunition.
After taking off from Fort Pickett, Yabut drove East along Route 460, then North on Interstate 95, according to Fox News. Unable to stop the vehicle, police cruisers attempted to buffer it from the front and rear, as the old tracked transport traveled more than 60 miles along city streets and state highways at its maximum speed of 40 miles per hour.
A soldier drove a stolen armored personnel vehicle off a military base and onto a highway in Virginia, leading authorities on a pursuit before eventually surrendering, police say. https://t.co/U7T5ZHZiH8 pic.twitter.com/oeZo2s4QB2
— ABC News (@ABC) June 6, 2018
The chase ended when Yabut stopped near Richmond’s City Hall, got out of the vehicle, surrendered to police, and was promptly arrested for driving under the influence of drugs, and charged with “one felony count of eluding police and one felony count of unauthorized use of a vehicle,” according to the Virginia National Guard statement.
It’s unclear at this time exactly why Yabut decided to pull a Fear And Loathing in an M577. Maybe he was tired of being passed over for a promotion, or couldn’t stand the prospect of another land-nav course.
But it does appear that he decided to chronicle his great escape from Fort Pickett via Twitter, and even telegraphed his plan ahead of time, according to Richmond Times-Dispatch:
…[Yabut] appeared to hint at his plans for the day, sharing a screenshot of a map of Capitol Square with a pin in the Capitol building paired with the Wikipedia entry for the M113 armored personnel carrier, a treaded vehicle first used in Vietnam that closely matches the description of the vehicle that stopped in the middle of Broad Street downtown.
Fortunately, nobody was injured in the pursuit. Less fortunate for Yabut, though, is that his 11-year tenure in the Guard, which included a deployment to Afghanistan from 2008 to 2009, is probably drawing to a close.
But his legend will live on in the bowels of the mil/vet internet, alongside such greats as the “Mullet Recruit” and “that one vet at Waffle House.” And for that, we salute you.
Oh, and apparently he’s already immortalized on t-shirts: