USS PELELIU, At Sea -- Being deployed at sea has afforded Marines and sailors of the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit some very unique training opportunities. These opportunities have included training with foreign militaries, fast-roping, rappelling, refining skills in the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program, shooting and weapons classes to name a few.
The training conducted on April 11 was no different except that it was something they will only have to experience once.
Eighty-five Marines and sailors with the 15th MEU ran through the Oleoresin Capsicum Course off the stern of USS Peleliu. In other words, they volunteered to get pepper sprayed. The training involved the servicemembers being sprayed and completing a series of obstacles to re-instill confidence and discipline in their abilities to react while disoriented.
“The OC Course teaches Marines that when using OC spray there is a possibility it could end up in your eyes,” said Cpl. Justin M. Dryer, a team leader and training noncommissioned officer with Military Police Detachment, Combat Logistics Battalion 15, 15th MEU.
“This course reminds the participants to stay in the fight,” added the 23-year-old native of Lancaster, Calif.
The course began as participants raised their arms out at their sides and received one pass of OC spray over their eyes. The first station, after being sprayed, forced participants to open their eyes as an instructor asked them how many fingers he was holding up in front of them.
After the initial disorientation set in, the Marines and sailors were required to defend themselves by using lead and rear hand punches taught in the MCMAP. The instructor waited for each of the course participants to demonstrate confidence and proficiency before moving them to the next station.
“I’ve seen videos online about OC training,” said Sgt. Nick M. Ortiz, legal chief, 15th MEU.
“I had an idea of what to expect, but as soon I felt the sensation in my eyes, I was in another realm,” added the 24-year-old native of Houston.
Still disoriented and lacking one key human sense, vertical knee strikes were up next as the participants were cheered on by their fellow Marines and sailors.
Breathing heavily with less than normal vision, the participants were instructed to grab non-lethal batons for the next two stations. The first required horizontal strikes, and the second required horizontal and vertical blocks.
To finish the course, the Marines and sailors conducted an armbar takedown, which is also a move from MCMAP.
“All in all, I hope the Marines and sailors grasped the importance of never quitting, because the enemy won’t,” added Dryer.
The 15th MEU is comprised of approximately 2,400 Marines and sailors and is deployed as part of the Peleliu Amphibious Ready Group. Together, they provide a forward-deployed, flexible sea-based Marine Air Ground Task Force capable of conducting a wide variety of operations ranging from humanitarian aid to combat.