CAMP FOSTER, OKINAWA, Japan --
Eight Marines from Marine Corps Base Camp Butler Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) removed four World War II-era unfired artillery rounds during ordnance clearance operations Nov. 11-12 and 17-18 at Camp Foster.
In late December, 2017, two World War II-era, un-fired artillery rounds were discovered at the Edward C. Killin Elementary School construction site on the northeast portion of Camp Foster. Those two rounds were disposed of, but there was a possibility that more may have existed at the site, which prompted a pause in construction so a clearance plan could be developed.
Over the next several months, a plan came together that would remove any explosives in the safest, most expedient manner, and cause the least amount of inconvenience to the residents in base housing that lived near the site. Over 150 families live in three base housing towers less than one hundred yards from the construction site.
To minimize the disruption to work, school, and traffic, the clearance operations were conducted during daylight hours over two separate weekends.
Marine Corps Community Services (MCCS) Okinawa stepped up to ensure that families had various recreational opportunities for all ages. “We worked with Col Ciuccoli, the Camp Foster commander, to let everyone know that we had set up over 70 activities during both weekends to include free movies in the theater, bowling, 3-D printing classes, personal and professional workshops, and a pet recreation area so families, and their pets, could make the absolute most out of being asked to leave while the clearance operations were happening,” said Mr. Carlos Saldana, Deputy Assistant Chief of Staff, MCCS Okinawa.
One 155 millimeter artillery round was discovered the first weekend. Three artillery rounds were discovered the second weekend.
MCB Butler EOD led the MEC clearance operations with the assistance of NIPPO Construction and Parsons-Versar, who were responsible for the school construction, and assisted with the ordnance removal, respectively.
Gunnery Sgt. Adam Clements, explosive ordnance disposal staff noncommissioned officer, was one of the eight Marines that participated in the MEC clearance operations and destruction of the MEC. “We had our whole shop out there,” said Clements, a Canal Fulton, Ohio native. “Everybody did a really good job and worked continuously – even through the weekends to support the clearance operations.”
“I thank you so much, I can’t believe the support we received from the families in the towers and Sada housing; it’s incredible,” said Col. Vincent Ciuccoli, commanding officer of Headquarters and Support Battalion, Marine Corps Base (MCB) Camp Smedley D. Butler and camp commander of camps Foster and Lester, to the families via Facebook live on the last day of operations. “The types of families we have here know the meaning of service and sometimes have to make out of the ordinary sacrifices to be a part of this mission we have out here in Okinawa. You all have been amazing.”
The artillery rounds were disposed on Camp Hansen Nov. 14 and 19 by MCB EOD.
The E. C. Killin Elementary school is due to be completed in 2020.