During the second month of Marine Corps Basic Training, most of the time is spent in field training.
By now you’ve learned how to use a gas mask. But just to make sure, they’ll stick you in a gas chamber and lock the doors. Not only that, but they’ll make you take off your gas mask while you’re in there!
They even mess with your mind by making you watch the group before you as they waddle their scared butts into the gas chamber. A moment later you hear the recruits screaming and pounding on the walls begging for them to open the doors. Another moment goes by and the screams turn into lulled sounds of gasps, coughs and vomiting. But the pounding doesn’t stop.
The doors open and you watch as the other recruits push each other out, gasping for a breath of fresh air. You can see their sweaty faces and scared eyes of relief.
Now it’s your turn. You mentally psyche yourself up and tell yourself you’re stronger, no problem.
That’s what I thought too.
You enter the gas chamber. You ignore everyone else so you can focus and prepare yourself. Gas masks on!
You watch as the drill instructors release the gas. You can hear the hiss of the gas being released but can’t really see it. Seems ok so far. Oh yeah, you’ve still got your gas mask on. Cool it works!
Drill instructors do a quick check to make sure everyone has their mask on properly and is breathing ok. Then they order you to do the unthinkable. Gas masks off!
Some guys try to cheat and take it off slowly.
This is bad for 2 reasons! First because they’ll get hounded by screaming drill instructors. But the second reason is what’s worse for YOU. The longer it takes for the last guy to take off his mask, the longer you and everyone else has to breathe in gas!
The first few seconds don’t seem too bad. You try to remain calm as possible cause you know that panicking will make things much worse. So you take slow shallow breaths. It hurts but seems bearable.
Then BANG! It hits you like a ton of bricks onto your lungs.
CS Gas, (tear gas) attacks your mucous membranes as well as your lungs. You can’t help but panic cause you really feel like you’re dying. Trying to gasp for air realizing that you’re just gasping in more gas!
You try not to breath but then your insides feel like their going to burst. The feeling in your lungs is totally foreign, and doesn’t feel good! You hear others around you screaming, vomiting, pounding on the walls and running for the doors. Of course this makes it worse, cause until EVERYONE is under control, nobody leaves!
I remember seeing recruits try and put their masks back on and throwing up right in them. There were a few guys on the floor flopping around like fish out of water. I dry heaved and coughed as I felt my nose and eyeballs literally dripping like a faucet. My armpits, crotch, back and scalp felt like there were microscopic needles poking into them. The more you sweat, the more it hurt.
Drill instructors attended to the recruits that were out of control and when they finally calmed them down, we were allowed to put our masks back on. All you can think is, “Bastards took so long!”
But it takes a moment to clear the mask and start breathing again. So drill instructors check on everyone to make sure we all get our masks on quickly and properly. A couple more guys puke in their masks.
Moments later, doors open. The sunlight is almost surreal but the air… the air feels so cold against the skin. It feels like an ice-cold blanket of needles. All the extremities that sweat the most are the most painful when the air hits it, but in a weird refreshing way.
You look up and see the next group of recruits about to go in. They look at you in shock. You’re glad to be done with it! And in some sick way you’re amused at the next group of guys going in. They timidly march in as you watch, quietly laughing inside.