CAMP ATTERBURY, Ind. - It was a peaceful, calm Friday morning near this isolated training area amid the farm belt region of rural south central Indiana. At least until the region was rocked by a 10-kiloton nuclear explosion, causing destruction and death in the wake of the blast and impending nuclear fallout.
Shortly after the explosion, the son of a Fort Myers Beach woman was called upon to provide recovery support in the surrounding area. He played a vital role in getting a devastated community through the aftermath of destruction that was once unthinkable.
The attack was a mock one, but it gave Army Spec. Robert N. Carpenter, son of Victoria Wissienger of Fort Myers Beach, vital training for possible future attacks in as realistic an environment as possible.
Photo by Air Force Tech. Sgt. Sean Worrell
Army Spec. Robert N. Carpenter recently participated in exercise Vibrant Response at Camp Atterbury, Ind. Vibrant Response is a multi-service chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear response exercise held to coordinate response actions in the aftermath of a possible nuclear attack.
Carpenter was one of more than 3,300 people from 17 states participating in "Vibrant Response," a U.S. Northern Command held chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear attack response exercise in southern Indiana that brought together active duty Army, Air Force, Marine, Navy, National Guard and Reserve units, along with numerous federal and state agencies in an effort to coordinate response actions in the aftermath of possible attacks and disasters.
Every person involved in the training had a specific job to do to ensure the post-attack effort was a success, and order could be brought to the attack zone.
"My mission is to help provide communication support to aid in civil support," said Carpenter.
In order to make the training as realistic as possible, the 180-acre Muscatatuck Urban Training Center was littered with wrecked vehicles, buildings were built to simulate heavy damage, roads were lined with rubble and debris, controlled fires and smoke dotted the environment, and mannequins representing dead victims were scattered throughout the training area. A group of 160 role players covered in moulage simulated victims with various wounds and radiation burns to round out the scenario as survivors of the attack.
"This type of exercise prepares us for a real world situation in case something of this type happens," said Carpenter, who is a multichannel transmissions systems operator and maintainer with the 94th Signal Company, Fort Leonard Wood, Mo.
Having the training and knowledge to react quickly and effectively to a disaster is something Carpenter practices, not only during Vibrant Response, but throughout the year.
"I receive several blocks of instruction each quarter which deals with chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and high yield explosives," said Carpenter, who graduated in 2004 from Wawasee High School, Syracuse, Ind.
It's almost impossible to predict something as catastrophic as a nuclear blast, but Carpenter and his fellow responders have a plan that will go far in helping pick up the pieces and give survivors a chance to regain some sense of normalcy.
"Vibrant Response gives us a firsthand look at how events would unfold if we were to get called up to deal with a catastrophic incident," said Carpenter, who has been in the military for three years.
No one ever expects the threat of a nuclear explosion to hit close to home, but real-life scenarios like the recent earthquake disaster in Japan show why it is so important to be prepared.