Photo Information

Lance Cpl. Johnny Alston (right), a personnel retrieval and processing specialist with PRP Company, 4th Marine Logistics Group, Marine Forces Reserve, and Sgt. 1st Class Matevz Scheicher, a weapons specialist with the Slovenian army, inspect and document simulated remains during the culminating event of exercise Immediate Response 2014, Aug. 25-27, 2014 PRP’s mission is to process the physical remains of deceased Marines, including other service members and civilians, ensuring everything they arrived at the disaster site with, he or she returns home with. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Codey Underwood)

Photo by Cpl. Codey Underwood

Exercise helps Reserve Marines prepare for natural disasters

8 Sep 2014 | Cpl. Codey Underwood The Official United States Marine Corps Public Website

The multinational team tested their abilities during several key portions of the cumulating event in humanitarian assistance disaster relief missions including search and rescue, explosive ordinance disposal, medical and evacuation techniques. During the simulation, the Marines with PRP processed ‘fallen heroes’ alongside Slovenian soldiers.

The week prior to the culminating event, the PRP Marines demonstrated their personnel recovery methods to Slovenian soldiers. This gave them the insight they needed to perform the job during the training scenario.

“We train as we fight and we fight as we train. With HADR missions, it is the same concept,” said Cpl. Joseph Nde Fah, a squad leader with the PRP platoon. “If we never train to come here and help, then we would never know the protocols. It is better for us to make a mistake during training and learn from it than waiting until it is a real-life operation.”

PRP’s mission is to process the physical remains of deceased service members and civilians, ensuring everything they arrived at the disaster site with returns home with them. Documenting every detail and leaving everything how they found it is important for investigators. The preservation of the remains can help determine the cause of death, and also save lives in the future by improving the design of protective equipment.

Although the PRP Marines played only a small role in the culminating event, their mission is essential to HADR events.

“It is an honor to take the bearing and load of a job not everybody wants because I know that my Marines and I are strong enough to complete the mission,” said Sgt. Anthony Latney, the PRP platoon sergeant. “There are days when it is difficult, but we are there for one another to remind one another that what we do here matters.”

During the culminating event, the Marines worked closely with Slovenian soldiers to ensure everything the Marines taught them in the previous week was retained. They quickly removed the casualties from the disaster site, documented the state of the deceased and inspected their belongings. Working together in the training environment allowed the Slovenian solders time to practice what they learned, and ask the Marines any last-minute questions before the completion of the exercise.

“This exercise gives my Marines a chance to reinforce what they already know, and gives them an opportunity to teach to other nations,” said Latney. “This knowledge is something that the Slovenian soldiers will be able to pass down to their junior soldiers. Utilizing this training is not an ‘if it will happen’, it is a ‘when it will happen’.”

Training events such as this help prepare the U.S., Slovenia and its partner nations to operate in a joint, multinational, interagency and integrated environment in situations such as a natural disaster.