CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- It looked like it had just rolled in from a snowstorm coated in what was considered to be some type of airborne chemical agent. The Marines approached the poison-covered Light Armored Vehicle outfitted in full Mission Oriented Protective Posture gear with high pressure hoses in hand. It was the Marines' job to decontaminate the vehicle in order to get it and its crew back in the fight.
Given the evolution of modern biological and chemical warfare, there is always more to be done to protect the II Marine Expeditionary Force.
Decontamination is as important as protection when chemical and biological agents are involved and the Marines of the Nuclear Biological Chemical Platoon, 2d Force Service Support Group are currently doing their part to protect all II MEF assets.
Marines from 2d FSSG recently participated in an exercise and practiced decontamination of vehicles and personnel at Landing Zone Falcon.
"Our main goal out here is to evaluate the concepts of decontamination operations for the FSSG," said Frankfurt, Illinois' Master Sgt. Thomas L. Tarulis, staff noncommissioned officer-in-charge of NBC Platoon. "It's our mission to decontaminate in detail, every man, woman and vehicle in an NBC environment."
The Marines recently used a wide variety of 2d Marine Division and 2d FSSG vehicles and personnel to practice their decontamination procedures.
They used everything from Amphibious Assault Vehicles and Light Armored Vehicles to 5-ton trucks and humvees. They also instituted different equipment and procedures to decontaminate with. Some of those include washing down the vehicles with high-pressure washers and using chemical compounds and electronic agent-detecting devices for personnel and equipment.
"Here at station eight, I'm in charge of receiving Marines and Sailors who have already gone through decontamination," said Lance Cpl. Theo-Quintin Pternitis, motor transport operator, Headquarters Company, Headquarters and Service Battalion, currently assigned to the NBC team. "When they come to see me I re-issue them clean gear and send them over to the assembly area and they are then finished with the decon procedure."
Station eight was one of the many stations that the Group Marines used to learn and practice decontamination procedures.
"Everyone out here is getting a thorough understanding of the decontamination procedures," said Chief Warrant Officer Gregory D. Steffne, 2d FSSG NBC officer.
"Decontaminating our own personnel and our own vehicles is something we already know a lot about. "Generally, troop decontamination is fairly generic, but we are now working with the Division's toys. We are doing this so we can get accustomed to all of the vehicles they have and learn what needs to be done to effectively decontaminate them."
Steffne explained that decontamination of personnel and vehicles was not always done this way.
"Decontamination used to be done by each individual unit," said Steffne. "It has now been passed down through MEF that the FSSG is going to be in charge of decontaminating every MEF asset."
According to Steffne, the exercise is just a good way to familiarize everyone within the Group with the procedures while in a field-training environment.
"I feel like we are prepared if a real-world situation arises," said Pternitis. "We know now how to take care of our brothers if need be."