May 6, 2017 –
Twisted metal, scattered clothes, and thousands of other pieces of debris litter the landscape as far as the eye can see. Handmade, tattered signs hanging on buildings and walls containing messages such as “help” and “need food” wave in the cold, wet spring wind. In a scene portraying the aftermath of a Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear (CBRN) attack in the United States, the only thing missing are casualties. Cue the U.S. Army Reserve’s 266th Ordnance Company, 77th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion (CSSB) from Aguadilla, Puerto Rico.
The 266th Ordnance Company is comprised of Soldiers trained to handle ammunition and other ordinances, but this year 41 Soldiers from the 266th are tasked with a different directive for their annual training. The Soldiers are learning to apply makeup and artificial wounds to mannequins and civilians, a technique known as moulage. The Soldiers’ mission at Muscatatuck Urban Training Center (MUTC), Indiana, lasts from April 17 to May 11, 2017 during the U.S. Army’s multi-component training exercise, Guardian Response.
According to Staff Sgt. Zulin Jimenez of Canovanas, Puerto Rico, a mortuary affairs specialist and the noncommissioned officer in charge of the 266th daytime shift, her mission was to teach Soldiers how to create realistic wounds on mannequins and civilian volunteers in an effort to simulate as realistic of a scenario as possible following a catastrophic attack.
Jimenez is assigned to the 311th Quartermaster Company, 77th CSSB from Aguadilla, Puerto Rico, but was tasked to train the 266th on how to apply wounds to the mannequins and civilian role players during the exercise.
In addition to the Soldiers of the 266th Ord Co, the Guardian Response exercise will host more than 4,100 Active Duty, Army Reserve and National Guard Soldiers from across the country that will train and validate their ability to respond in the event of a CBRN attack by following the framework of the Defense Support for Civil Authorities’ (DSCA) agreement.
Jimenez and a handful of mortuary affairs specialists are on site to train the dozens of ordnance Soldiers. In addition to the on hands training, Soldiers can refer to illustrations and pictures to replicate realistic lacerations, bruises, and burns.
“I was not familiar with the medical terminology for a lot of the wounds, but using the pictures I was able to learn them really fast,” said Pfc. Angel Mercado from Sabana Grande, PR, an ammunition specialist with the 266th. “We had two days to train on how to do the makeup for the exercise. The training is both fun and hard because it is so different from what we are used to doing.”
The ordnance Soldiers of the 266th turned makeup artists at MUTC place artificial wounds on dozens of mannequins and 100 civilian volunteers a day; the Active Duty, Reserve, and National Guardsmen use them as role player casualties for the exercise, said Jimenez.
The wounds are made from a latex-based product that sticks to skin and the plastic of the mannequins, according to Cpl. Ulysses Irizarray from Fardajo, Puerto Rico, a mortuary affairs specialist with the 311th Quartermaster Company. Additional paint and powders are applied on top of the latex base which make the wounds look as realistic as possible, he added.
After the wounds on the civilian and mannequin role players are finished, they are relocated throughout the training grounds; the simulated casualties brings MUTC’s final apocalyptic appearance full circle.