MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS -- Explosive Ordnance Disposal Marines educated Joshua Tree National Park staff on safety procedures for identifying and dealing with Unexploded Ordnance for the first time, at JTNP Headquarters, July 23, 2015.
The Youth Conservation Corps, a summer volunteer group, along with JTNP staff and park rangers attended the 90 minute training opportunity.
“One of the focuses was helping the staff communicate how they report UXO,” said Sgt. Juan Fernandez, explosive ordnance disposal technician, EOD. “A lot of people will take photos of UXO they find, but what’s helpful for us is getting shots of the terrain they found it in.” Using the Military Grid Reference System to report UXO, as opposed to geodetic (latitude and longitude), saves hours of work, added Fernandez.
Fernandez led the attendees through a guided presentation while Capt. Erin Roush, explosive ordnance disposal officer, EOD, answered questions. Gunnery Sgt. David Dignan, explosive ordnance disposal technician, EOD, presented WWII ordnance ranging from artillery shells to ammunition rounds found on military training areas, to provide attendees with tangible examples.
According to Chuck Heard, park safety officer, JTNP, having examples of ordnance to look for, brought reality to the presentation. Heard said the Combat Center and the park are continuing to build a great relationship.
“One of the best parts about the Marines coming out is everyone got to meet them face to face,” Heard said. “It made everything more personal.”
George Land, park public affairs officer, JTNP, said working with Combat Center service members on tasks ranging from volunteer projects to military education has helped build a cohesive relationship between the base and the park.
“The Combat Center is a tremendous partner,” Land said. “We’re always here to do whatever we can for the troops and we’ve benefited mutually.”
The Marines’ presentation provided a lot of clarity for the YCC and newer staff members will know what to look for if they encounter UXO, Land said.
“I think it went excellently,” Land said. “Everybody I’ve talked to is just so pleased. I’d like to thank the base because the Marines did such a good job.”
More Marine-led EOD training is scheduled for later this year to educate new volunteers and park employees. “The Marines helped bring an understanding to UXO,” said Heard. “We’re looking forward to continuing this partnership.”