Support our mission
 
Tech Sgt. Tyrone Curl exerts muscle to pull a rubber boot off the foot of Staff Sgt. Michael Sinibaldi at the contamination control area.
Tech Sgt. Tyrone Curl exerts muscle to pull a rubber boot off the foot of Staff Sgt. Michael Sinibaldi at the contamination control area. (Wayne Specht / S&S)
Tech Sgt. Tyrone Curl exerts muscle to pull a rubber boot off the foot of Staff Sgt. Michael Sinibaldi at the contamination control area.
Tech Sgt. Tyrone Curl exerts muscle to pull a rubber boot off the foot of Staff Sgt. Michael Sinibaldi at the contamination control area. (Wayne Specht / S&S)
Senior Amn. Kimberly Hutchens marks a simulated 240mm mortar that failed to explode near the command post. During the exercise, explosive ordnance disposal specialists like Hutchens practiced disarming unexploded ordnance, or UXOs, like the mortar.
Senior Amn. Kimberly Hutchens marks a simulated 240mm mortar that failed to explode near the command post. During the exercise, explosive ordnance disposal specialists like Hutchens practiced disarming unexploded ordnance, or UXOs, like the mortar. (Wayne Specht / S&S)

MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan — Tech. Sgt. Frank Verhovec got an early start this week on the July 4th tradition of setting off fireworks.

He stood in a large field across from Misawa’s command post Tuesday evening, pulled a short cord, then heaved a ground burst simulator about 30 feet.

A shrill whistling noise and white smoke followed by a deafening explosion echoed across the area.

Using fireworks is prohibited on military installations in Japan, but Verhovec was street legal.

His pyrotechnics, simulating an incoming mortar attack, lent realism to a base-wide combined exercise that wrapped up Thursday.

Air Force troops began the exercise with an initial-response readiness test last Saturday.

The exercise tested the 35th Fighter Wing’s ability to marshal people and equipment for deployment to another location.

Later in the week the exercise migrated to the combat employment readiness exercise phase that tested how the base weathered — then recovered from — simulated around-the-clock mortar, missile and bomb attacks.

Also part of the training: defense against attacks with chemical or biological agents.

That meant troops spent hours dressed in full mission-orientated protective posture gear to protect against deadly chemical agents.

Contamination control areas were established, similar to the one at the base’s Leftwich Park on Security Hill, where troops practiced how they would dispose of clothing contaminated by chemicals like nerve or mustard agents.

Because North Korea has multiple-stage missiles able to reach Japan in minutes, the exercise had a degree of realism, some participants said.

“They’re pretty realistic given our location,” 2nd Lt. Bryon Hinrichsen said while waiting with others to remove his protective gear.

“I’m always looking for a challenge. And these exercises are challenging for me.”

Migrated

around the web

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign-up to receive a daily email of today’s top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign up