MARINE CORPS BASE HAWAII --
On a warm December Hawaiian day, a typical vacationer may take the opportunity to appreciate the temperate weather with a trip to the beach or taking in some historic sights with family members.
For Explosive Ordnance Disposal Marines of Marine Corps Base Hawaii and Combat Logistics Battalion 3, a day like this is a chance to throw on an airtight chemical suit and an 85-pound bomb suit during a Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear training exercise at Boondocker Training Area, Dec. 13, 2013.
Participating Marines were given a cryptic scenario and had to unravel the details, determine a plan to secure the threat and ensure a safe environment.
When EOD arrived at a barracks (the start of the exercise), the Naval Criminal Investigation Service and Provost Marshal’s Office handed over all available information. A Marine was suspected to have ties with a terrorist organization and, after a long weekend, was reported as an unauthorized absence. EOD was informed that the same Marine’s dead body was found in the barracks room and had sustained several burns on his exposed skin.
EOD was told that everyone who entered the barracks room was experiencing nausea, vomiting and dizziness. They proceed to send a Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and Explosives Kit into the barracks room to safely investigate the problem. It can identify several agents, threats, detonators, isotopes and chemical reactions. Marines used all available equipment to formulate an action plan against the threat.
Once inside, they found a detonator strapped to an ammo can containing Strontium-90. This container had the same amount of radiation activity that was immediately released after the 1986 Chernobyle accident. Too much exposure to Sr-90 is known to cause bone cancer, cancer of tissue near the bone and leukemia. An improvised explosive device was attached to the Sr-90 to make a dirty bomb, a radiological weapon combined with conventional explosives used to send hazardous material into the environment.
An EOD Marine on-scene was dressed in a level c Tyvek suit, protecting him from a wide range of chemical and gas agents, and a bomb suit to protect him from an IED blast. Marines wearing the equipment in 80-degree heat and sunlight wisely used their limited time due to the extreme conditions the human body endures when undertaking such a task.
“Wearing both the Tyvek suit and the bomb suit will test anyone’s ability to cope with the intense physical output and mental endurance,” said Staff Sgt. ‘Danger Dan’ Dan Noll, an EOD technician with MCBH EOD and a 28-year-old native of Wien, Mo. “It’s going to make any situation more intense when you throw an air-sealed plastic-wrap suit on with an 85-pound bomb suit over it in 80-degree weather.”
On two separate occasions, EOD sent Marines in the Tyvek and bomb suits to deescalate the situation to the point where there wasn’t a threat. The exercise started at 9 a.m. and finished at 4:30 p.m. and after they packed all the gear up and left Boondocker Training Area with a couple more tools in their toolbox.
“Many people think all EOD handles is explosive,” Noll said. “Although we are trained to disarm explosives very well, we have the ability to manage any threatening CBRN hazard and this training exercise helped us perfect those skills.”