Reporter Kurt Hildebrand with RecordCourier.com reported the following…
An Oct. 21 coronavirus outbreak at the U.S. Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center resulted in more than 173 cases being reported to the State of California, according to Mono County health officials.
According to an appeal submitted by the county, the Pickel Meadows outbreak accounts for 87 percent of the county’s cases over the following two weeks.
“The Marine base outbreak started with the arrival of over 1,500 Marines for training, some of whom had unrecognized COVID-19,” the health department said. “Most of the cases have occurred among these visiting trainees, who are restricted to the remote mountain base.”
Mono health officials said 13 cases have occurred among personnel stationed at the base and there have been three cases related to Marine family members.
“There is no evidence that this military outbreak has resulted in increased infections outside the center community,” health officials said. “The control measures undertaken by the Marine Corps seem to be working to contain the spread.”
MOUNTAIN WARFARE TRAINING CENTER – MISSION
The Marine Corps’ Mountain Warfare Training Center (MWTC) conducts unit and individual training courses to prepare USMC, Joint, and Allied Forces for operations in mountainous, high altitude, and COLD weather environments in support of the Regional Combatant Commanders.
On 27 November 1950, the Chinese force surprised the US X Corps commanded by Major General Edward Almond at the Chosin Reservoir area. A brutal 17-day battle in freezing weather soon followed.
Between 27 November and 13 December, 30,000 United Nations Command troops (later nicknamed “The Chosin Few”) under the field command of Major General Oliver P. Smith were encircled and attacked by about 120,000 Chinese troops under the command of Song Shilun, who had been ordered by Mao Zedong to destroy the UN forces.
The UN forces were nevertheless able to break out of the encirclement and to make a fighting withdrawal to the port of Hungnam, inflicting heavy casualties on the Chinese. US Marine units were supported in their withdrawal by the US Army’s Task Force Faith to their east, which suffered heavy casualties and the full brunt of the Chinese offensive.
The brutal Battle of Chosin Reservoir became the reason to open up the Marine Mountain Warfare Training Center in Mono County, California.
MOUNTAIN WARFARE TRAINING CENTER – HISTORY
The Mountain Warfare Training Center (MWTC) is one of the Corps’ most remote and isolated posts. The Center was established in 1951 as the Cold Weather Battalion with a mission of providing cold-weather training for replacement personnel bound for Korea.
After the Korean War, in 1963, the school was renamed the “Mountain Warfare Training Center” due to its expanded role. During the 1980s, the Training Center’s focus was on training and preparing Marines and operational units for deployments on NATO’s Northern flank, particularly Norway.
Recently, with the Global War on Terrorism, the MWTC provided pre-deployment training in support of Operation Enduring Freedom—the war in Afghanistan.
First, there must be a backstory to the name “Pickel Meadows,” but we don’t have any idea what that is.
Regarding the COVID uptick at the Marine base; yes, some of the Marines who arrived for training had “unrecognized” symptoms of the coronavirus, but some did have the typical symptoms associated with the infectious disease.
When the infected Marines attempted to report for sick call, they were considered malingerers, meaning the Marines were pretending illness, to shirk one’s duty and avoid participating in the scheduled training. They were ordered, “Get out there in line like everyone else you lazy bastard,” (or words to that effect).
The macho Marine anti-malingerer policy at the Mountain Warfare Training Center resulted in all most two hundred becoming infected with the coronavirus. This sharp spike alarmed California State officials, who moved Mono County, California to condition “Purple.”
CALIFORNIA’S COVID TIER SYSTEM
Purple, or Tier 1, indicates that the virus is widespread in the county — with more than seven cases per 100,000 residents or more than 8% of tests results reported positive over seven days.
Red (Tier 2) indicates “substantial” spread of the virus, while Orange (Tier 3) indicates “moderate” spread and Yellow (Tier 4) indicates “minimal” spread of the virus in the county.
If one of the two metrics is higher than the other, the state will assign the county to the color associated with the highest rating. For example, if a county reports six cases per 100,000, but a 9% positivity rate, it will be rated purple.
Ninety miles to the south of the Marine Mountain Warfare Training Center in Pickel Meadows, are several areas depending on tourist dollars. The biggest tourist areas are the MAMMOUTH LAKES AREA and the JUNE LAKE AREA.
Every year thousands of people arrive to enjoy both recreational areas in summer and winter. When California health officials noticed the alarming spike of people contracting the coronavirus, they quickly moved Mono County to Tier One (Purple) status, which was a devastating blow to the communities ninety miles south of the base whose existence relies heavily on those precious tourism dollars.
Marine officers didn’t take the virus seriously enough which resulted in a mini pandemic on the military base. And, because of California’s dubious COVID policy, authorities raised the entire county to Tier One, ruining the livelihoods of people located nowhere near the infected base.
Brilliant, absolutely brilliant!
Marines who were not shirking their duty, but were sick with the coronavirus were not taken seriously by their chain of command. Ignoring the warning signs of the infectious disease, ended up infecting nearly the entire military base.
Did any of the Marines die of the coronavirus, we don’t know. If someone did, there’s a case for manslaughter. But, since the Feres Doctrine protects military commanders even when there is gross or wanton negligence, no one is ever held accountable for orders that literally places lives in jeopardy.
And, because of piss-poor leadership by both the Marines and the State of California, hundreds of people ninety miles south of the infected base are in jeopardy of losing their jobs and businesses.
A SIDE NOTE: The most famous search dog in the world “BUSTER” lived and was trained in Mammoth Lakes, California, not far from the Marine Mountain Warfare Training Center in Pickel Meadows.
BUSTER’s extraordinary ability to detect missing buried people found hundreds of missing people in clandestine graves all over the world. This included United States Marines that fought in the Battle of Tarawa in the South Pacific.
Yes, Seventy-Two years after the bodies of U.S. Marines had been buried during the war, then after the war could not be found, BUSTER detected their bones and alerted. Their remains were returned home for proper burials to families who had given up hope.
Attempts by BUSTER’s owner to gain recognition from the Marine Corps for his remarkable dog were rebuffed by someone at the Mountain Warfare Training Center. He didn’t have the courage to even return phone calls.
This incredible dog was able to find these missing Marines, including missing Medal of Honor recipient (Alexander “Sandy” Bonnyman). The Navy and Marine Corps falsely told the Bonnyman family that Alex had been buried at sea. BUSTER found Bonnyman’s body and exposed the lie.
One would think the United States Marines would be proud to display a picture of BUSTER somewhere on the base to remind the young Marines that some people will never stop looking if you are lost in combat.
Unfortunately, the United States Marines Corps simply didn’t care about BUSTER’s discovery of nearly fifty Marines lost since WWII… a sad commentary indeed.