Photo Information

Lance Cpl. Dang K. Thai, Combat Life Saver in the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit's Combat Logistics Battalion - 26, assesses and documents the status of a patient during the 26th MEU's mass casualty exercise July 15, 2006, at Fort A.P. Hill, Va. As Marines set up a protective cordon, Navy Corpsmen treated and assessed simulated injuries, then Marines from the Aviation Combat Element, HMM-264 (Rein.), airlifted them by helicopter to a higher echelon of care in the rear.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Aaron J. Rock

Mass casualty training teams 26th MEU air, ground and logistics elements

16 Jul 2006 | Lance Cpl. Aaron J. Rock

A mortar attack has left Marines wounded and in need of serious medical attention. 
The 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit's mass casualty evacuation team responds to the crisis quickly, arriving by helicopter and evacuating the injured Marines swiftly to a safe location for further medical care.

Luckily, the mortar attack wasn't real, and the ensuing injuries were created with the aid of prosthetics.

However, the Marines and Navy corpsmen from the 26th MEU's Combat Logistics Battalion - 26 and
Battalion Landing Team, 2nd Bn., 2nd Marine Regiment, who participated in the mass casualty evacuation exercise July 16, were deadly serious about the mission.

Mass casualty evacuations are just one of the many specialized missions the 26th MEU trains for. As a rapid reaction force, the MEU must be prepared for many different roles and contingencies, from humanitarian assistance to traditional war fighting. 

Marine Expeditionary Units undergo a six-month pre-deployment training cycle to prepare for
employment abroad.  During the training period, the MEU is tested on many different skills and missions, such as humanitarian assistance or non-combatant evacuation operations, in order to receive the Special Operations Capable (SOC) moniker. 

Captain Brent C. Purcell, communications officer for CLB - 26 and responsible for the training, said mass casualty situations require a lot of coordination between the different elements of the MEU.

"There are eight detachments that take part in this exercise.  There are a lot of moving pieces that have to work to make it move smoothly," he said.

Purcell said the mission was successful even though this was the first time the elements of the 26th MEU mobilized to perform a mass casualty operation.

"The mission allowed the Marines and Sailors to see firsthand what they've been training for,"
he said. "It allowed us to integrate all of the [Marine Air Ground Task Force] to extract the pseudo-casualties."

Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Roshun T. Green, CLB - 26, agreed with Purcell.

"[The exercise] helps us to prepare to evacuate and treat any personnel - enemy, civilian or friendly forces, from an area," she said.  We go in, set up security, stabilize the patients, treat life-threatening injuries, then medevac them to hospital facilities."

Green said the exercise was good training and gives the personnel invaluable practice at their job.

"This is what we do as corpsmen," she said. "This kind of training helps out a lot - it gives good basic information."

Navy Lt. Alin V. Ledford, medical officer of CLB - 26, praised the efforts of his corpsmen.

"It's the first time we did a full mission with all the elements, and there were no significant issues," he said, adding, "The corpsmen did great with their medical assessments."

Purcell said the MEU's training is going very well.

"We are ahead of schedule," he said.  "The Marines and Sailors did extremely well on this exercise. I'm proud of them."

The 26th MEU's training here begins the 26th MEU's six-month pre-deployment training process which incorporates all the elements of the MEU into a cohesive, rapid reaction force.   The 26th MEU will continue to prepare for an early 2007 deployment in support of the Global War on Terrorism.

For more information on the 26th MEU, go to www.usmc.mil/26thmeu.