They tried out a Navy aircraft ejection seat, used a control terminal to direct a robot to retrieve a package, and marched to the sharp cadence of a U.S. Marine drill sergeant.
It was all part of a day-long visit to Naval Support Facility Indian Head by students in the Navy Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (NJROTC) program at Westlake High School in Waldorf. Twenty students, ranging from in-coming freshmen to rising seniors, participated in the field trip on June 26, accompanied by their unit commander Lt. Cmdr. James Pierce, as part of a week-long orientation training camp.
"We run the day camp to introduce new cadets to some of the basics of the NJROTC program," explains Pierce, who will be in his fifth year in command of the Westlake unit, which will involve 120 students at the start of the coming school year.
"I like to arrange trips for the cadets to give them a chance to experience different aspects of military life and work," says Pierce.
Three commands at NSF Indian Head supported the cadets' visit to the base by providing briefings, tours and demonstrations. Capt. Andy Buduo, commander for Naval Surface Warfare Center Indian Head Division (NSWC IHD), was the first to welcome the group and give them an overview of his command's mission.
The cadets next learned about the X22 ejection seat model for the Joint Strike Fighter program as Travis Tom with NSWC IHD's CAD/PAD Division described how aircraft ejection seats work in an emergency.
Explaining the forces exerted on a pilot when the ejection seat is activated, Tom pointed out, "You'll experience up to three G's on the most intense roller coaster," while the force of the ejection on a pilot exerts 12 to 14 Gs on the head and neck, he said.
"The spine will compress up to an inch temporarily," Tom said, adding, "It's a violent event."
Marines with the Marine Corps Chemical Biological Incident Response Force (CBIRF) provided the cadets with a broad sample of military life during their portion of the NJROTC tour, starting with a physical training demonstration at the command's obstacle course by Sgt. Charles Leonard and Sgt. Jesse Terard.
A weapons display featuring the M4A1 rifle, M203 grenade launcher, M249 Squad Automatic Weapon, MK19 grenade launcher, Enhanced Marksmanship Rifle and M1014 Benalli shotgun was next on the agenda. Marines who enthusiastically described the operation and use of each type of weapon included Sgt. Calvin Adams, Cpl. Jacob Mederen and Cpl. Rory Ready, who recently returned to the U.S. following his second tour in Afghanistan.
A brief tutorial on robotic vehicles used by Marines was provided by Staff Sgt. Robert Seymour and Sgt. Sean Hrncir, which was followed by a demonstration of the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program (MCMAP) narrated by Sgt. Matthew Dickey. Marines representing various levels of expertise in the training program demonstrated techniques that Marines are taught to master, from self-defense takedown moves to more aggressive hand-to-hand combat.
After enjoying lunch with their CBIRF hosts at the Indian Head Galley, the cadets next visited the Naval Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technology Division at NSF Indian Head's Stump Neck Annex. There, the students toured the deployable Combined Explosives Exploitation Cell (CEXC) developed by the command to provide on-scene technical assistance in analyzing and defeating explosive threats encountered in a military operational area. Senior Chief Mass Communications Specialist Anthony Casullo and Intelligence Specialist 1st Class Levi Scheibel explained how CEXC crew members handle explosive materials brought into the lab, while Robert Lee demonstrated how wireless devices can be used to trigger explosives.
The cadets also had opportunity to try on a bomb suit worn to provide protection for a bomb disposal technician or EOD operator, to crawl through a Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) military vehicle, and try their skill in guiding a robot to retrieve a "suspicious" package several yards away.
The day concluded at the Dive Locker at Stump Neck Annex, where Chief Navy Diver Soren Brown guided the cadets on a tour to show them both large and small boats used by EOD divers to support training for underwater explosives-related missions, as well as the facility's dive chamber and decompression chamber used for training and recovery operations.