Local

August 1, 2014

Pyrotechnic expert having a blast supporting NTC

Tags:
G. A. Volb
Public Affairs Office

Frank Pope, pyrotechnic expert, shows off his handiwork.

In the distance a mushroom cloud filled with fire, smoke and debris erupts just outside a small town in the middle of the Mojave Desert; the faint sound of voices can be heard and the outline of people moving about – quickly – can be seen.

In the minutes following, Soldiers slowly made their way through the town – a Hollywood-like set built to simulate the many possible deployment locations for America’s armed forces. Each man and woman focused intensely on their mission at hand, to secure the town. In the process, they were greeted with more explosions, rocket propelled grenades and gun fire, prompting them to engage the enemy using skills they brought to the training center.

The “blast,” though quite authentic looking and sounding, simply signaled the beginning of another training exercise for a rotation of Soldiers who are experiencing what’s affectionately referred to as “the box” at the National Training Center here.

It’s all part of the well-planned, extremely challenging choreography used to test and train some 50,000 Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines who rotate through Fort Irwin each year.

“It’s not fun, but the training definitely helps me with proficiency,” said Pfc. Kim Landicho, 24, from the Bronx, N.Y. “I’ve never been deployed so the environment here really helps prepare you for one in the future – so you’re not shocked. Every mission or training scenario taught me something new I can use.”

At the NTC, pyrotechnic guru Frank Pope and his crew of six go to great lengths to provide as realistic a combat environment possible for the Soldiers. He will tell you their efforts are essential if such scenarios are to challenge troops like real-world combat would.

Pope, at 68, retired after 46 years of Hollywood special effects, but still enjoyed his work so he was all too eager to put his talents to work at the NTC when asked. He brought with him high-end pyrotechnic insight he gathered from working on sets from “Air Wolf,” where he says he blew something up every day, to “Natural Born Killers,” “Water World,” “Starship Troopers,” and “Windtalkers” to name a few.

“I truly believe if my pyro crew and I can contribute to the saving of one Soldier’s life in combat, then we are blessed,” Pope said.

The goal for Pope’s team is to complement a detailed scenario built by trainers here by including Hollywood-style improvised explosive devices, RPG’s, truck bombs, suicide vests, and even large dust bombs that simulate chemical attacks.

Senior leadership at the NTC say replicating the combat environment is crucial. The Hollywood special effects are a perfect companion to the austere environment of the NTC, where 1,200 square miles of training area can range from 20 degrees during the winter and 120-plus during the summer months.

Regardless of temperature, it is the NTC’s ability to utilize pyrotechnics and detailed scenarios amid the rock, dirt, and mountainous terrain that ensures realism in training.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
Leslie Ozawa

New commander for U.S. Army Garrison Fort Irwin

Leslie Ozawa United States Army Garrison Fort Irwin Commander Col. G. Scott Taylor (left) receives a guidon from Thomas Schoenbeck, director of Central Region for Installation Management Command, during a change of command cere...
 
 
Tarah_and_EricHipple

Army observes Suicide Awareness Month in September

Fort Irwin to host motivational speakers In support of the nation’s observance of Suicide Prevention Week, Sept. 7 -13, and World Suicide Prevention Day, Sept. 10, the United States Army focuses on a campaign about the import...
 
 
Photo courtesy of VVTA

Your bus ride just got better

Photo courtesy of VVTA The Victor Valley Transit Authority has acquired five new “luxury coaches” which will be used on the commuter routes between Hesperia, Victorville, Silver Lakes, Barstow and Fort Irwin in mid-August. ...
 

 
11th ACR

Bringing connectivity to GCSS-A in the field

11th ACR Staff Sgt. Don Nottingham from Maintenance Troop, Regimental Support Squadron, 11th Armored Cavalry sets up the Very Small Aperture Terminal here, March 17. During a field training exercise March 16 to 18, here, Mainte...
 
 
Jason Miller

Commissary awards scholarship

Jason Miller From left: Stephen MacAfee, S & K Sales associate; Qahir Abdur-Rahman, Fort Irwin Commissary store director; Alex Nguyen, scholarship recipient; Michele Nguyen, Alex’s mom and; Command Sgt. Maj. Jerry Nguyen...
 
 

Get a refund for gasoline taxes

The California gasoline tax refund could save you hundreds of dollars every year. In order to maintain California’s many highways, the state taxes every gallon of fuel that you put into your car (even gas purchased on post). This is reasonable, because we all know what it is like to drive on poorly maintained roads,...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>