Local News

Bragg soldiers train for Ebola mission

Posted October 9, 2014 6:07 p.m. EDT
Updated October 9, 2014 10:16 p.m. EDT

— Army Spc. Max Oja is among the soldiers at Fort Bragg who are preparing for a mission that will take them halfway around the world, into the heart of the deadly Ebola outbreak in Africa.

These days, his mind is on the specializing training designed to keep him safe.

“It’s always about training,” he said during a session Thursday on the post. “You always train for the event that you’re going to do, and you always try to train, practice how you perform.”

Fort Bragg officials said last week that about 120 soldiers from the post will deploy to Africa to help the Department of Defense effort to contain the Ebola virus. The soldiers are not expected to come in direct contact with those infected with Ebola. Instead, they will provide support for the international medical teams that are treating patients.

The layers of boots, gloves and a protective suit are their defense against an invisible enemy.

“It’s a little odd, but it’s not bad,” Spc. Rebecca Walter said after trying on the protective suit. “Actually, I don’t have any personal thoughts (about the mission). I’m just ready to go.”

Military leaders say this mission holds danger beyond the Ebola virus. That’s because there are a number of endemic diseases in West Africa - including malaria, typhoid and yellow fever - that can also kill.

“These are diseases that are airborne, waterborne in some cases. They come to you,” said Col. Mike Talley, commander of the 44th Medical Brigade. “When we’re talking about the Ebola virus, this is a disease where you have to come to it.”