Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni residents participated in a Noncombatant Evacuation Operations (NEO) exercise at MCAS Iwakuni, Japan, Nov. 21, 2017.
A NEO is the ordered or authorized departure of civilian noncombatants and nonessential military personnel from danger in an overseas country to a designated safe haven.
These exercises are held quarterly in order to maintain station readiness and provide residents with the tools they need to evacuate if an emergency occurs.
“The purpose of the exercise is to get the families of MCAS Iwakuni to the event to educate them on the NEO process,” said U.S. Marine Corps Master Gunnery Sgt. Fernando Hernandez, the installation personnel administrative center (IPAC) chief with Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron. “It is a twofold event. Not only do we want to educate the families, but we want to train the folks that are running the stations during an evacuation.”
The exercise consisted of a processing center at the IronWorks North Gym where U.S. service members, dependents and other station residents walked through various checkpoints, practicing what they would do in the event of an evacuation and receiving all the necessary information regarding their departure.
Booths included IPAC, Marine Corps Family Team Building, Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society, American Red Cross, veterinary services, Distribution Management Office and more. The exercise helped participating service members and employees from each organization involved go through all the steps to complete their mission.
“This exercise is for station as well as family readiness,” said Angela Gerrits, a trainer with Marine Corps Family Team Building. “It is helping family members and service members see what a NEO looks like but also helps organizations involved throughout the air station get prepared for the influx of people during a NEO.”
Residents found the exercise to be informative and reassuring of what is involved in a NEO.
“I got a pretty good overview of the order that we will need to put our paperwork in and how to be most efficient so that everyone gets through in a timely manner,” said Kaitlyn Shermer, a station resident. “Mostly I learned that I shouldn’t be as worried as I thought I was going to be. It is a lot smoother than I thought it would be.”