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Many GI Deaths From Motorcycles

More American troops have died on U.S. roads in off-duty motorcycle accidents after they returned from Afghanistan than have been killed fighting there since Sept. 11, 2001, safety records show.

Military commanders in North Carolina say the deaths are largely the result of boredom, bonus pay, and adrenalin to burn off after troops return from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Nearly 350 troops have died on motorcycles since the 2001 terrorist attacks. That's compared to 259 killed while serving in Afghanistan.

Nearly 1,000 more troops have been injured on motorcycles.

Marine Lance Cpl. Mark Strickland, 24, was one of five Marines from Camp Lejeune who were involved in serious motorcycle crashes in October. Four of them had been home just a few weeks from combat in Iraq's deadly Anbar Province. Three of the Marines were killed and another lost a leg.

"When the doctor told me that he was dead, I told him that wasn't acceptable, it just wasn't acceptable," said Andrea Strickland, 22, the widow of Mark Strickland. "I said, 'He just got back from a war zone, and you're going to tell me that he died doing something he loved?' "

Lt. Gen. James F. Amos, commander of the Camp Lejeune-based II Marine Expeditionary Force described the crashes in October as "a cold shot to the heart" and ordered a crackdown. The following month normal base operations were halted to focus on safety, particularly for motorcyclists.

Camp Lejeune also added safety programs and re-emphasized existing ones. These include a mentor program Amos created that is being considered as a model for the entire Marine Corps.

The Army has not been immune to off-duty motorcycle deaths, with more than 40 in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30. The Army chief of staff issued a memo in December that urges experienced riders to cut the accident rate by mentoring beginners.