JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii – Hawaii Air National Guard Airmen completed a chemical warfare and decontamination exercise Sept. 2 alongside joint and total force partners.
More than 70 Airmen and Marines participated in the weeklong training event, Toxic Pineapple, collaborating to streamline decontamination practices.
Scenarios and academic lessons at the installation’s Base X training grounds focused on the recovery process for aircrew members exposed to chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or explosive material.
“To keep things simple, we call aircrew members ‘slimed’ after they’ve been contaminated during their mission,” said Master Sgt. Roderick Baker Jr., 154th Operations Support Squadron F-22 Raptor aircrew flight equipment NCO. “As soon as the pilots return, they would be received by our decontamination line and are asked a series of questions.”
If CBRNE agents are detected, they are guided through a process to safely break down their protective gear.
Aircrew flight equipment and emergency management Guard members from the 154th Operations Support Squadron and 154th Civil Engineer Squadron combined their capabilities with Active-Duty Airmen stationed throughout the Pacific region.
Participants included members from Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Kunsan Air Base, Korea, Kadena AB, Japan, Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, JBPH-H’s 15th Wing and career field managers from PACAF and the U.S. mainland.
While the military outfits across the Department of Defense have access to different equipment and infrastructure for setting up decontamination zones, Toxic Pineapple’s procedures were designed to standardize practices that members from all backgrounds can execute.
The joint setting required multiple decontamination zone configurations tailored to the needs of different service-branch mission sets. Members executed processes for aircrews in well-established air bases and applied expeditionary methods more suitable in field environments.
“This training allowed us to talk about best practices and to get to know what we should be prepared for as we move forward, especially in a joint environment,” said U.S. Marine Corps Chief Warrant Officer Dennis Taylor, Marine Aircraft Group-24 CBRNE Defense officer in charge. “The idea that I may receive Air Force pilots at any time, or they might receive Marine pilots at any time, or just knowing that personnel may need to be deconned at any moment. Now we’re better prepared to do that, tactically and effectively, with whatever we have around us.”
Members were also challenged to experience the process from an aviator’s perspective. Participants assumed the role of a ‘slimed’ aircrew member and endured the sanitation process while wearing the aircrew ensemble and layers of CBRNE protective gear.
“This lets us experience exactly what can be expected from the aircrew as they are deconned,” said Baker. “Getting pat down, communicating effectively, all while dealing with all the heat and stress related to being exposed to contamination. But more importantly, it allows us to evaluate how others put their training into practice. It’s all about giving them the opportunity to practice and see the process from both ends.”
Some personnel attended Tropic Pineapple without prior CBRNE qualifications. But after two days of training, Taylor said all were able to set up and maintain the decontamination line without supervision.
Participants received training certificates at the end of the week for completing the Aircrew Control Contamination Course, administered by instructors from Dyess Air Force Base.