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For the third consecutive year, the second Marine expeditionary operations training group is conducting a troop deployment exercise at the Bladen County First responder Training Center in White Lake. They have been here all week and an airborne assault was conducted on Wednesday night.

The purpose of this exercise is to bring the troops to unfamiliar surroundings and allow them to practice their defensive and offense of techniques prior to actual deployment overseas, said Bladen County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. G. Turlington.

“By the weeks end hundreds of Second Marine division personnel will be in our area. This bolsters our economy and brings fire, rescue, law enforcement and other first responders in direct contact with active soldiers and builds relationships to where we can both better serve our citizens as we learn from each other,” said Sgt. Turlington.

He added, “Since Bladen County Sheriff Jim McVicker established the specialized training group and the training center was developed, the cooperation among such entities and the dividends returned are incalculable. We are proud to have a facility that the Marines wish to utilize in their training.”

Sgt. Turlington explained that next year, plans are to have a similar event but practice a mass casualty exercise in concert with the Second Marine division.

He noted that approximately 100 Marines participated on the mock assault force. They landed 2MV 22 Osprey use on our landing zone simultaneously and deployed followed by a third within minutes. There were multiple helicopter gunships flying in a low orbit around the training facility with fighter aircraft providing cover, according to Sgt. Turlington.

A reconnaissance force had been deployed into the Turnbull Creek area earlier in the week and had observed the activities of the role players prior to the military intervention.

There were no injuries in this large exercise and cleanup began immediately afterward.

On standby at the exercise were fire and rescue elements from White Lake and Bay Tree Lakes fire departments under the direction of Chief Dale Brennan.