MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. --
Engines roared and tires screeched as stunt riders performed for the Marine Corps Communications-Electronics School students during the third annual Safety Fair at Victory Field Oct. 23.
MCCES students and instructors spent the afternoon browsing vendor booths, participating in canine take downs, wandering through an earthquake house, watching sport bike shows and riding bicycles while wearing “drunk goggles.”
“We are giving them something to remember rather than kill them with power point presentations,” said Dr. Joyce Teters, the safety director for MCCES, about the unique training approach. “This is their [students] first exposure to safety in the military and I want them to remember it throughout their career in the Marine Corps.”
As the students and instructors explored the venues at the field, the canine unit with the Provost Marshals Office seemed to draw one of the larger crowds.
PMO suited up any willing Marine in protective bite suits and sent them running across the field. Meanwhile, a PMO dog handler held fast to the dog’s leash as it struggled to take down his notional foe. When finally released, the canine shot after the Marine and was on him in a matter of seconds.
“The suit was hard to run in and the dog was very fast,” said Pfc. Kimberly Mihevic, a student with Company A, MCCES.
The canine takedown went on until PMO decided the dogs had done enough.
As the Marines headed back to the vendor booths, many noticed the earthquake house. The simulator put Marines in a small room filled with smoke while the house shook, simulating an earth quake.
Some of vendors gave out free merchandise like key chains, bottle openers, information pamphlets and cold drinks. Other vendors sold shirts, motorcycle tires and biking equipment at inexpensive prices. One of the vendors played a short safety video highlighting basic driving safety.
At one end of the field, a line of Marines waited to ride a tricycle while wearing goggles designed to simulate intoxicated driving and required Marines to maneuver around sharp turns. Before the Marines started the course they were told “don’t break the bike, goggles or yourself” by the instructor in charge of the station.
“The goggles really mess you up,” said Pfc. Alfonso Urrutia, a student with Co. A. “I thought I was in the middle of the track the whole time. If you do well on this course with the goggles, then we know who to send to the SACO [Substance Abuse Counseling Officer],” he said jokingly.
After completing the course the Marines were given more items such as a water bottles, pencils, stickers and key chains.
Later that afternoon MCCES hosted two safety bike shows on Bourke Street in front of the field. As the bikers started their engines every Marine on the field gathered in the bleachers and along the fence to see the show.
The bikers performed various stunts such as seat stander, watch tower, which is the bike standing straight up with hands in the air, high chair, which includes sitting on the handle bars, and many more during the shows.
At the end of each 20 minutes show riders took time to talk to Marines about riding safety on the road.
“The stunt riders and their words on safety will stick out the most in their minds,” said Sgt. Kyle Neubecker, a MCCES instructor for Co. C. “Everything is very informative and will help a lot with the junior Marines along the road. The Marine Corps needs this because of its high rate of road fatalities.”
As the smell of burning rubber lingered in the air, Marines went their separate ways with the lessons they learned fresh in their minds.