March 26, 2013

Amputee finds purpose in re-enactments

A wounded veteran adds realism to training exercises that use special effects to prepare troops.

By JULIE WATSON/The Associated Press

(Continued from page 2)

Joel Booth
click image to enlarge

Former Navy corpsman Joel Booth, who lost a leg in Afghanistan, prepares with the help of a makeup artist to play his role as a downed helicopter pilot in a military training exercise at San Diego-based Strategic Operations.

The Associated Press

"If they can go through that and come out of it OK, then they know, 'Whew!' " she said. "Then each time they do that, it can get better and better."


Lavell said having Booth has greatly enhanced the training because he bases his role-playing on his real-life experience, and is able to share tips that only a combat veteran can offer.

Earlier this year, Strategic Operations accepted its second veteran into the group: Redmond Ramos, another amputee corpsman whom Booth met while they were both recovering at the hospital.

On a chilly but sunny morning at the studio last month, shrill sirens pierced the air as smoke wafted from a crashed helicopter. A bloodied mannequin with no legs dangled from a strap off the rotor.

Booth sat under the prop, leaning against the aircraft. He jiggled his amputated leg to make it look like it was quivering. Marines scrambled to him, dodging Hollywood-style gunfire as Booth shouted: "Help me!"

One of the trainees fumbled as he hurried to put on a tourniquet and bandage.

Then he hoisted a limp Booth over his shoulder and ran as explosions boomed.

It was one of the numerous times that day Booth would be rescued.


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