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Erika Capistran, family readiness officer, 3rd Combat Engineer Battalion, drives and leads a fire team in the stationary High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle of the Combat Convoy Simulator during the Rosie the Riveter Vs. The Simulator Event hosted at Camp Wilson, May 15, 2014. At every stop of the simulated convoy, spouses dismounted the vehicle to set up security.

Photo by Cpl. Charles Santamaria

Spouses take charge in convoy simulator

15 May 2014 | Cpl. Charles Santamaria

The High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle engine roars as it begins moving the fire team through a middle-eastern town. The sound of stray bullets echo through the streets as enemy fire impacts the armor of the vehicle. Equipped with their kevlar helmet, flak jacket, and M-16 A4 rifles, the team navigates through hostile city receiving a barrage of enemy fire. The convoy’s lead vehicle explodes. Frantically, the team leader shouts commands signaling the team to dismount and return fire. The simulator screens shine bright into the stationary vehicle, as the program generates a city populated by digital buildings, insurgents and other potential threats.

Family readiness officers and spouses participated in the Rosie the Riveter vs. The Simulator event hosted at the Combat Convoy Simulator at Camp Wilson, May 15, 2014. The event is the first of its kind to incorporate several units’ spouses into one convoy simulator event.

Armed with modified M-16 A4 rifles, spouses went on simulated convoys through foreign combat zones like Fallujah, to reach objectives and respond to enemy fire and civilian populace. 

“The goal of this machine is to create the most realistic environment for Marines to experience and train in,” said Ryan Brown, field service representative, CCS. “The 360-degree panoramic screen surrounds the team which immerses them in the training environment. The training with spouses had to be adjusted so they could see a little more action but the simulator helps give insight into what some of their husbands do when on deployment.”

Checkpoints throughout each convoy scenario had the spouses and FROs dismounting their vehicles and posting security, anticipating simulated enemy fire. As a fire team, the group had to communicate with each other and the other teams immersed to the same simulation.
 “We are so appreciative that they gave us the opportunity to come and participate in the simulator today,” said Erika Capistran, family readiness officer, 3rd Combat Engineer Battalion. “It helps build an appreciation for what our spouses do for training and while deployed.”

At the beginning of every simulated scenario, the fire teams went over their plans and the checkpoints for the mission. When a vehicle in the convoy was immobilized, the team had to go outside of the simulation and carry a life-sized, 150-pound dummy and transport it back to their vehicle before continuing their mission. 

The simulator built a sense of understanding within the teams similar to how a deployment can build the brotherhood of Marines through a common goal. Spending time together and facing the simulator as a team built a stronger connection between them.

“Spending time together as spouses from several units strengthens bonds between us,” Capistran said. “Our husbands and loved ones serve together, so bringing units together for events like this between the FROs builds us as a community.”

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Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms