By Spc. Noelle WieheDecember 9, 2019
FORT STEWART, Ga. - Sgt. Jerome Smith trained alongside fellow Marne noncommissioned officers at the Virtual Training Center for a simulated armored vehicle rollover situation, but he said he found value in the reactive training, as he had already been in a real-life rollover.
"Now I actually have the confidence to tell my Soldiers, 'hey, this works,'" said Smith, an automated logistical specialist with Headquarters Support Company, 3rd Infantry Division. "I am able to not just explain it or (have them) read it from a book, but they actually experience it, and I can be in there with my Soldiers, and we all experience it together."
Marne Soldiers went through the High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle Egress Assistance Trainer instructor, operator course Dec. 5-6 at the Virtual Training Center at Fort Stewart, Georgia, in preparation for their upcoming convoy live-fire exercises to be conducted during this year's Legion Focus exercise.
"They want to show Soldiers how to react in case of a rollover," said Sgt. Melvin Williams, HSC, 3rd ID, and a participant in the train-the-trainer course.
Smith, while in the simulator, was flipped completely upside-down and forced to consider safe places to put weapons and objects which could fly around and injure his Soldiers. He said the simulation gives the commander, the squad leaders, and the platoon sergeants an actual view of what is going on.
According to German Anes, a senior trainer at the VTC, the purpose of the HEAT is to simulate an up-armored HMMWV rollover or tilt to the left or right, then train the occupants to successfully egress from the rolled vehicle by emphasizing teamwork through crew and battle drills.
"That way when they are in the field, once they hit that critical rollover angle, they already know what it feels like," Anes said. "It prepares them to egress the vehicle from the (various) positions."
The course is designed to have leaders become proficient on all operations of the HEAT device and return to their units and educate their Soldiers to ultimately save lives in the event of a rollover incident, said James Rucker, instructor at the VTC.
"We don't teach rollovers. We teach you how to run the equipment, so that you can teach your Soldiers to survive rollovers," Rucker said.
The 16-hour HEAT included a classroom presentation on educational materials and safety, a written test and a hands-on training portion in the HEAT device at the VTC.
Smith survived his real-life rollover, but said the training was important for him because, as a 92A automated logistical specialist, his job will require him to upload and offload equipment using a HMMWV. He said now he has the confidence he needs to pass the training on to his Soldiers.
"I'm able to positively portray that confidence in myself," Smith said.