ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Maryland – A group of seasoned U.S. Army civilians are often called to respond on short notice when suspected recovered chemical material is discovered on formerly used military sites and training ranges anywhere around the world.
More than military remnants of a bygone era, these munitions can be as lethal as they were when they were first produced decades earlier – but they are no match for the Army civilians from the Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, Explosives (CBRNE) Analytical and Remediation Activity, also known as CARA.
An all U.S. Army civilian organization, CARA is home to many retired service members and veterans who leverage a vast amount of experience in CBRN, explosive ordnance disposal and laboratory operations to conduct emergency response missions for Recovered Chemical Warfare Material, technical escort of surety and non-surety chemical material and mobile laboratory operations.
CARA has two remediation response sections, CARA-East based on Aberdeen Proving Ground and CARA-West on Redstone Arsenal in Alabama. During recent missions in Arizona, Delaware, New Jersey, Hawaii and the U.S. Army Pacific area of responsibility, CARA teams have identified and removed potential chemical munitions or materiel, protecting life, property and the environment by removing these hazardous materials.
On a 10-day remediation operation, a team of 12 civilians from CARA-West safely packaged, assessed and removed a 75mm chemical round from a training range. The team leader was Jeffrey F. Williams, a 21-year retired U.S. Army 1st sergeant from Choctaw, Oklahoma.
The team included Shane L. Pollard from Columbia, Kentucky; Michael R. Randolph from Ardmore, Oklahoma; Bruce A. Peter from Dubuque, Iowa; Walter H. Oldenburg from Chicago; Keith C. Smith from Baltimore; Wende J. Thornton from Canton, Texas; Donny Jennings from Sheridan, Arkansas; Kevin M. Hanuszczak from Kaneohe, Hawaii; Wayne Purdue from Irvine, Kentucky; Timothy M. Crews from Pine Bluff, Arkansas; and Steven J. Wade from Salt Lake City.
This team brought 106 years of collective military experience to the mission with members who have served in the U.S. Army, U.S. Air Force and U.S. Navy.
CARA Remediation Response-East took on another project. CARA-East is led by Bruce K. Griffin, a New York City native and retired Army Chemical Corps sergeant major with almost 25 years of service in uniform.
Leveraging 109 years of collective experience for the mission were Ryan P. O’Connell from Laconia, New Hampshire; Trevor Donnatien from Tacoma, Washington; Charles L. Maddox from Frankfurt, Germany; Gerald M. Godwin from Wilmington, Delaware; Shannon J. Platt from Rocky Ford, Colorado; Michael H. Murkens from Franklin, Pennsylvania; James R. Rouse from Kinston, North Carolina; and Pedro D. Johnson from Birmingham, Alabama.
The seasoned team of eight CARA-East personnel and two CARA aviators deployed to assess and package two 81mm mortar projectiles at a former ordnance depot.
In addition to packaging and assessing potential chemical weapons, CARA teams conduct clearance, sweep and removal operations for unexploded ordnance hazards and munitions.
With mobile expeditionary laboratories, CARA provides theater-level validation of chemical and biological warfare agents, toxic industrial chemicals and explosives to support operations. These distinct laboratory capabilities are designated to support the combatant commanders or joint task force commanders when called upon to deploy into their area of operations.
The activity is part of the 20th CBRNE Command, the U.S. Department of Defense’s premier all hazards formation. From 19 installations in 16 states, Soldiers and civilians from 20th CBRNE Command confront and defeat the world’s most dangerous weapons and hazards in support of military operations and civil authorities.
CARA Director Franz J. Amann said the Army civilians who serve at CARA bring an incredible amount of experience to all assigned missions.
“CARA is a very distinct organization that brings vast capabilities in support of the warfighters and in protecting our citizens on the home front” said Amann, a Spartanburg, South Carolina, native and retired U.S. Army Chemical Corps officer. “The CARA team personifies the Army Values every day by serving our nation with distinction while safeguarding lives, the environment and property from recovered chemical material.”