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Lance Cpl. Ryan Romero, a motor transportation operator with Marine Wing Support Squadron 374, hops down from the gunner's hatch after participating in the Combat Center's newest rollover training simulator, the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected Egress Trainer, at the Battle Simulation Center at Camp Wilson July 30.

Photo by Cpl. Nicole A. LaVine

Combat Center tumbles with first MRAP trainer in U.S.

30 Jul 2009 | Cpl. Nicole A. LaVine

Marines with Marine Wing Support Squadron 374 were the first to train with a new vehicle simulation trainer at Camp Wilson July 29 to better prepare them for a Mine Resistant Ambush Protected Vehicle rollover.

The MRAP Vehicle Egress Trainer, or MET, is located at the Battle Simulation Center at Camp Wilson and is currently the first active MET simulator in the United States, said Staff Sgt. Frank Villaverde, a combat tactics instructor at the Battle Simulation Center.

“It’s designed to familiarize Marines with being turned around and how to egress the vehicle safely,” said Villaverde, a Superior, Ariz., native. “It’s very disorienting when you’re upside down in a vehicle, and you get better at getting out safely the more you train.”

Villaverde said this training is proactive in nature, keeping in mind MRAP vehicles in their many variations are typically top-heavy.

Aside from small variants in design, the MET is similar to its cousin, the Humvee Egress Assistance Trainer, or HEAT.  

Nearly half of the Marines with MWSS-374 who trained with the MET Wenesday have also trained with the HEAT.

Lance Cpl. Steve Hodges, a motor transportation operator with Support Company, MWSS-374, said although he was familiar with the idea behind the training, it still taught him a valuable lesson.

 “This one spun slower, but the seatbelts were a lot harder to manipulate,” said the Warren, Mich., native.

The seatbelts standard to the MRAP consist of duel shoulder straps with buckles and a lap belt with a buckle, which differs from the standard lap belt of a humvee.

Both simulators demand the physical and mental fortitude of the service members by requiring them to break free of seatbelts and other obstacles, maintain communication, get all passengers out safely, and emerge from the vehicle without compromising security, Villaverde said.

After Marines have been secured in the simulator wearing full gear, seatbelts and unloaded M16A2 service rifles, the simulator spins like a rotisserie, tossing up sand and dust inside, and disorienting its crew. 

The simulator then stops at one of three points; on either of its sides, or on its roof. The crew must then release their seatbelts while supporting their body weight, help fellow service members from their seats if needed, and egress the vehicle at the opening closest to them.

Staff Sgt. Jesus Rivera, the operations chief for Support Company, MWSS-374, was qualified as a MET operator the morning of the unit’s training.

“We went through the MET sitting in most of the seats, went through all the scenarios and studied the entire system,” Rivera said. “This is the same concept as the HEAT, but I think the biggest difference is how the Marines have to sit facing each other. It has a much more realistic feel.”

Pfc. Dylan J. Williams, a motor transportation operator from Support Company, MWSS-374, had not experienced rollover training before and said the training may serve as priceless knowledge in the face of a rollover in theater.

“If there was a rollover in combat, I wouldn’t have known how to get out,” said Williams, a Eugene, Ore., native. “There was a lot of sand inside and it was really uncomfortable. This really was good training.”

The MET training is unit-delegated and requires unit operators to be at least the rank of sergeant. To learn more about operator qualifications or to book training call 830-4192.


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