The Cobra was shredding its target with its 20 mm rounds flying from the three barreled Gatling cannon in the M-197 turret. The Marine infantry squad waiting outside the door to the building which formerly housed a sniper hide on the third floor stormed in. They breached the door with C-4 attached to an IV bag. BOOM!!! This explosion came from the roof of a building two blocks away. Through the smoke a Stokes litter zipped down to the ground via a wire gone unnoticed by the audience. We were doing a capability exercise (CAPEX) at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. The CO climbed to a small stage and took a microphone. He explained to the crowd the simulated patient in the litter was a mannequin and had been extricated from an explosion-caused pile of rubble. The small explosion prior to the litter going down the wire was just for dramatic effect. We were after all, putting on a show. The audience was made up of a couple of congressional staffers, the II MEF commander and his cats and dogs, and several Marines and Navy medical personnel who were hoping to get orders to the unit. The CO gave his brief which included identifying CBAF members who would be available to talk to the audience about life at the unit. “Doctors and corpsmen can gather around my Senior Chief” and he pointed over toward me. I spent the next hour talking to at least 20 people hoping to join us and get in on the fun.
The U.S. Marines’ Chemical Biological Action Force (CBAF) moved from Camp Lejeune, NC to Indian Head, MD several years ago to be closer to the capital if they were called upon. CBAF is a specialized unit made up of Marines of various MOSs and Navy medical personnel to include two physicians, a physician assistant, a nurse, two Independent Duty Corpsmen, and about 25 field medical service technicians. The unit is commanded by a colonel with a lieutenant colonel as the executive officer. There is a sergeant major and three members in the E-8 pay grade to include the senior corpsman. The CBAF headquarters is the former schoolhouse of the U.S. military’s explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) school.