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December 9th, 2009
11:16 AM ET

A Soldier's Story: Recruit is 'changing before our eyes'

Editor's Note: We're tracking three recruits from their final days as civilians through to deployment. It's an unprecedented look inside the life of a soldier. CNN's Jason Carroll reports for American Morning's special series, "A Soldier's Story." Watch part one and two, and tune in to American Morning on Wednesday for part three.

Army recruit Will McLain wears a gas mask for a drill on the dangers of a potential sarin gas attack.
Army recruit Will McLain wears a gas mask for a drill on the dangers of a potential sarin gas attack.

By Adam Reiss, CNN

Correspondent Jason Carroll and I returned to Fort Leonard Wood Monday to check back in on the recruit we are profiling for our ongoing series, "A Soldier’s Story." You may remember meeting Will McLain when we first met him in his hometown of Rosamond, California.

We spent the first couple days of basic combat training with him and now he is with his platoon in his third week of basic training. Will is changing before our eyes both physically and mentally. He has lost ten pounds and is really on his way to becoming a U.S. Army soldier.

He has been assigned a battle buddy, Demetrius Daniels, 23, from Detroit, Michigan. A battle buddy is an interesting concept. The Battle Buddy system is the policy of pairing Initial Entry Training (IET) Soldiers into teams for the following reasons:

- Mutual support and assistance
– Teaching teamwork
– Developing a sense of responsibility and accountability for fellow soldiers
– Improving safety during training
– Reducing the likelihood and opportunity for sexual harassment, misconduct, and suicide gestures or attempts.

Essentially you do not go anywhere without your battle buddy, and Will and Demetrius seem to get along just fine.

On Monday, all the soldiers went through a drill in the NBC chamber. It is where they drill the soldiers on the dangers of a potential sarin gas attack. For the purposes of the test, they use small plastic pellets that they cook on a grill in the chamber. The result is stinging throat and eyes.

Soldiers go in fifteen at a time and go through several exercises before they are ordered to remove their masks. Most of the soldiers begin jumping up and down and try to do anything to ease the pain. One soldier couldn’t make it and ran from the chamber. Will was successful and passed the test.

Please tune in next Wednesday for part three of A Soldier’s Story with Will McLain.


Filed under: A Soldier's Story • Military
soundoff (185 Responses)
  1. Walter Foreman

    I went through the same training in basic. What we used was tear gas this was at FT Benning GA. in the 1950`s I was in Korea.

    March 4, 2010 at 9:47 am |
  2. Mark Blake

    Yeah that stuff just stopped my lungs. My diaphragm wasn't going anywhere. Couldn't breath in or out. I went through basic in '95. There was a drill sergeant in my Co. that looked like Hitler. One of the guys in my group going in looked at him and turned to me and said 'this is so ironic its not even funny'. I asked him why and he told me he was Jewish. We laughed so hard we barely made it in there to begin with.

    January 4, 2010 at 3:11 pm |
  3. Scott from Florida

    Hey to all you young people serving your Country, We are proud of every single one of you!

    January 1, 2010 at 6:34 am |
  4. Lynn

    I appreciate this story because it gives an almost-accurate look into basic training. However, CNN, what about following a female recruit as well?
    And to Bubba, who does not seem to understand the point of this exercise...you can't understand why it would be a good idea to prepare our Soldiers, Marines, and Sailors for what they could encounter in Iraq or Afghanistan? This drill, while it sucks, makes you test your gas mask out under stressful circumstances.
    To the writer...in Navy and Marine training, running out of the chamber is not an option and I'm sure it's not in Army basic training, either, so you should be careful how you phrase things.

    December 23, 2009 at 4:54 pm |
  5. Jake

    Hey everybody, i am actually in Wills Company. Alpha 35th En Bn. He is in 1st Plt, and i'm in 4th Plt. Everything that he has done we all have done and let me tell you, its an amazing experience.

    December 23, 2009 at 12:38 pm |
  6. Dennis

    As the gas chamber goes, it's good training, i was there at Fort Leonard Wood in 1990. My recuiter told my how it was going to be in basic and he did not lie. After you go threw the gas chamber, you have a feeling of pride, Our company was so worked up we went thur it a second time just for fun. I reaad that you can wash your eyes with water and this is wrong (just makes it worst). air is the only thing the will get it off your body, that's the reason you see the recruite flap their arms like a bird and run around. When i got to my A.I.T training at Ft Lee Va. I had to go threw the camber again but this time they had these little pill like caps that were slit open and the gas would come out. I had to open one after i came out the first time and had to joke, this was not bad and made it threw with no mask. a little stinging but that's it. basic was bad and i loved it. Just remember one thing and you'll make it throught aright- do what ever the drill instru. says and don't think why. Just do it. There is always a reason but you'll never know why so don't ask. I've been out for 17 years and i'm going back in next month. everyday i live my life as a soldier and keep the same values. Keep tough

    December 23, 2009 at 10:27 am |
  7. Scotty

    We had the identical training in the Canadian Forces with one difference... we entered the gas hut with CS gas one day with our chemical suit (charcoal suit) and the next day with just our regular combat uniform. Both times we ran around inside the hut and did heavy excercise. With the regular combats it really stung wherever you sweat... thus proving to us that both the protective mask and charcoal suit gained our confidence. All of us were well informed that the mask would not protect you from things like carbon monoxide (fumes from vehicles), etc... a critical bit of knowledge.

    December 21, 2009 at 6:34 am |
  8. Stephanie Bonds

    I went through this in 1971 at Fort McClellan, ALA, along with about 5,000 other WACs. I'm still here, but there was a chem school there and there may have been some epa issues i'm not aware of. Later, when we became part of the RA in 76, I was the S-3 NCOIC and NBC NCOIC in my battalion and had to take thousands of troops through the gas chamber. We had a lot of field training exercises where we drilled in mop suits for several hours. I don't believe all of my troops were gaining confidence in their equipment. I think they were concentrating more on trying to do their jobs with sweat pouring down their faces and bodies. I did notice that my "older" soldiers were having issues with hypertension do to the heat. All of this was reported to the appropriate people and I'm sure it's in some circular file somewhere.... We did not teach our troops about toxins or gases. We were more interested in training them to complete the mission. As far as the comments about soldiers today being soft, I would challenge most of you to follow them in the areas where they fight today. It's hard to tell the enemies from the friendlies. There are no lines drawn in the sand anywhere, and your own government could let you down when you need them the most because they rely on other governments to assist you. It is not supportive to put down former soldiers. You do not elevate yourself to a higher place because you badmouth a brother or sister in arms. You only show your own ignorance and immaturity. So if you can't say anything nice – shut up.
    The main issue here is that soldiers must be prepared for ALL types of warfare. You're going through all of this training so you can Act; not ReAct. You do not have time to stop and disseminate the information presented to you in a crisis. You must be able to perform without thinking about anything else. This is how you stay alive and keep your fellow soldiers alive to finish the mission – even if it's just to drain the swamp.

    December 19, 2009 at 4:33 am |
  9. Jared

    I remember that feeling, running out was never an option, but doing a few push-ups and jumping jacks without a mask...while trying to say your name, rank, and social was part of it.

    December 18, 2009 at 3:59 am |
  10. Sergeant First Class

    I'm shocked on how stupid MARINES really are....I have to say, you never fail to remind me how much it pisses me off when that very word floats in the air. Does it make you feel tougher to talk negitive about your brothers in arms? Especially the Officers! Pathetic!

    December 16, 2009 at 2:17 pm |
  11. Tasha

    Some of these comments are really pathetic, we should all be encouraging these soldiers regardless if it is done all the time. These men and women are fighting for our country. It is a shame how some of you post comments on how this story is a waste of time. May God protect the men and women fighting for our country. Let us know that God is also proud of every man and woman willing to put their life on the line for justice.

    December 16, 2009 at 9:02 am |
  12. Jimmy Dugger

    I have been watching this story from day one. It fills my heart with joy to see young men willing to bear such heartship in order to protect, and fight for peace for not just us also for all in this place we call earth. I believe with all my heart these young men are not just doing this for a pay check. There are so many people in america that needs to see this story. It puts a face on what our armed forces. these young men are not machines with out emotions. Yes they cry, yes they hurt, yes they bleed just like you and i. Let us never forget those that fought and died for our right to be who we are today. Wars are the same from www1 to www2, even now young men die. These young men answer a call that shall forever ring in the hearts of many. May God forbid that call ever go slient.

    December 16, 2009 at 8:19 am |
  13. Dil in Orlando, FL

    I remember the gas chamber very well. Inhaling the gas cured my chronic sinus stuffiness in the space of 30 seconds... The joys of going to basic in the dead of winter!

    December 14, 2009 at 1:07 pm |
  14. CMO

    I went through in 88. I understand it SHOULD have the purpose of teaching the soldier that the masks work well, so they should trust in them. However, when I went through, the training masks were horrible. They were used and reused by many thorughout the year, so by the tim ewe got them in the winter, they were all broken, cracked, ripped, or whatever. Few could obtain a good seal at all. My mask did not even contain filters since they were out of that size. So yippie for me, I got to go in and just breathe that crap for way too long. Despite the "fun" that is supposed to be a character building experience and a right of passage, it proved nothing but a recurring nightmare for many of us that were choking to the point of passing out (which I did) from the moment we entered until we were assisted out.
    I'm all for the chamber to teach reliance on the safety of equipment. But hopefully they now actually provide working equipment. The only lesson I learned form that is to not be anywhere near a potential gas attack.

    December 14, 2009 at 1:01 pm |
  15. Brian

    Went thru Basic at Fort Lost in the Woods in 1970. The "chamber" was an experience to never forget but it was a lot more pleasant than the "Grass Drills" on crushed rock – not a blade of grass ro be seen – and the little "hikes" from the rifle range in 90 degree plus temps. I'd like to take a moment to thank the DI's of A-5-3 for the job they did getting us ready for the next bit of fun and games in the Army.

    December 14, 2009 at 11:39 am |
  16. Jim in Ozark, MO

    CS is a solid ; not a gas It is a riot control agent. The masks are Field Protective Masks. There are no "gases": all are solids (except for a couple of hallucenogens the military doesn't use. Yes, the term "gas chamber" is incorrect; but s is "lock and load" (e.g., you cant load a 'locked' weapon). Too many use the wrong terms, but no one cares. But the writer SHOULD use correct terminology provided freely by the military prior to it being published. Causes misunderstanding and more than a few idiots crawling out of the woodwork. Retired Army LTC and retired civilian Army Chemical School CBRN science analyst. Tchuss!

    December 14, 2009 at 11:04 am |
  17. Justin K.

    Getting gassed is the best cure for the common cold I know. Went in with a raging head cold, half an hour or so after I came out, I could smell bird poop at one hundred paces. The FDA will never approve this as a treatment though. I'm not sure what was worse; the pellets, or the CS grenade.

    December 14, 2009 at 10:41 am |
  18. Chellemi66

    It's obvious that the reporter has never been in the military. As to the 'jumping up and down' and 'running' from the building, sounds a bit like hyperbole to me. Perhaps noone but a soldier can understand why a soldier submits to the hardships that they endure. If it does not kill us, it will make us stronger. (= Not sure if it's true or not, but I've also heard that going through multiple times over the years will help you to develop something of a tolerance for the stuff, thereby making you far more effective in a realtime situation.

    December 14, 2009 at 7:32 am |
  19. Dan

    After a few times in the chamber, you begin to compete with other soldiers to see who can stay inside the longest without a mask. No big deal.

    December 14, 2009 at 6:30 am |
  20. Watson

    Gosh! Gee Whiz! Did the gas bit in Air Force basic, 1952. Should we be worried about cleaning boots. Making beds. What!

    Thanks to those that serve. It will make you a better person.

    December 14, 2009 at 5:25 am |
  21. Garrett

    Oh, yes, I did it a few years ago through the Army. I thought it was awesome (though it really sucked). I did gain more confidence from that experience. We were allowed to run out but if we did we had to just get right back in line and do it again. I was determined I would only have to do it once. I thought that made the experience harder actually...knowing you could run out (even though they still made you redo it). You had to dig deep inside yourself and force yourself to stay until they told you to leave.

    December 14, 2009 at 4:33 am |
  22. Garrett

    Yeah, I did it a few years ago through the Army. I thought it was awesome (though it really sucked). I did gain more confidence from that experience. We were allowed to run out but if we did we had to just get right back in line and do it again. I was determined I would only have to do it once. I thought that made the experience harder actually...knowing you could run out (even though they still made you redo it). You had to dig deep inside yourself and force yourself to stay until they told you to leave.

    December 14, 2009 at 4:30 am |
  23. Skeeter

    Ahh yes good times at Ft. Knox and Ft. Drum.. Its all good, and will take care of those stuffy sinuses for you.

    December 14, 2009 at 2:38 am |
  24. Dirk Diggler

    I was exposed to the CS gas chamber while in Army Basic also. It was actually a benefit to me. I was one of the few who got side effects. I suffer from peniselongation severititus. Maybe you have seen my movies.

    December 14, 2009 at 1:14 am |
  25. Jams

    My father told about gas mask training he had in 1945. The instructor took them in, cracked his mask slightly to take a small whiff, then removed it entirely and explained to them the importance of sniffing first.

    My dad did as the instructor told them and immediately smelled tear gas. A bunch of other guys didn't realize the instructor had been speaking on one long breath and immediately removed their masks–big mistake.

    December 14, 2009 at 1:02 am |
  26. Bert

    If the author is going to tell the story please use the facts and not attempt to dramatize the events.
    ----–
    But, but, the barfing, the 3-ft. snot strings, bouncing off of doors, running into people, trees, buildings, tripping and falling and skinning up your face, those aren't cherished memories? I mean, c'mon, now, maybe I should have written the gas chamber story!

    December 13, 2009 at 10:32 pm |
  27. D

    My dad was an old soldier. He has a scar on his hand where the put a drop of mustard gas (Blister agent) on him and he tells a story of being placed inside a ring of white phosphorous on the ground and learning to throw sand on it to make a way to escape. chemical training is not always the most pleasant but much better than dying at the hands of it from no training. Drive on guys!

    December 13, 2009 at 10:17 pm |
  28. D

    you can re-locate the filter to the other side if needed. Really a better mask. Remember changing out the old filters that went inside the mask? What a pain in the behind. I even went through the chamber without a mask prior to first gulf war when the Sergeant Major showed up late so I went in with him. I had very clean sinuses after that. Also some knuckleheads got hold of the cs pellets and took them back to our unit one year. Some months later they opened their locker and the pellets had broken down into a fine powder. They got a nice dose of CS for their boneheaded efforts. The gas chamber is a memory maker. I remember the drill sergeants making us do lots of "Side Straddle Hops" to get us nice a sweaty prior to entering the chamber. My dog tag chain burned so bad it felt like it would burn through me. Good stuff that CS. Man I was young.

    December 13, 2009 at 10:12 pm |
  29. Nestor, Austin, TX

    Bubba,

    The purpose of the exercise is to prove to soldiers that their protective masks actually work. Before you take your mask off, it doesn't bother you. After you take it off, your body reacts, big time. Every soldier goes through this, and every soldier can trust in their mask.

    December 13, 2009 at 9:24 pm |
  30. Jesse

    We went through a "gas chamber" in 1962–this must be a slow news day.

    December 13, 2009 at 9:19 pm |
  31. hogshead williams

    I went through this exercise at Ft. Dix, NJ in 1966 and again in AIT in 1967 and if you followed the instructions....nothing really bad happened....it is tough if you are wearing glasses and are gassed....you can't wear them under the mask!

    December 13, 2009 at 7:35 pm |
  32. Dave

    MILITARY – TAKES BOYS AND TURNS THEM INTO RESPONSIBLE MEN.

    December 13, 2009 at 7:14 pm |
  33. Dave

    Back in the black boot day, hahaha, this is how my parents always started something she found to be profound. In any case, back in January 1967 I went through Fort Polk Basic Training and, yes, we did the CBR training back then too. I have sinus problems and have gotten use to them. When we entered the tear gas hut, I was for all practical purposes unaffected. The DI stood in front of me, like they did others, and waited for me to tear up, gag, throw up, what ever and I just stood there and looked at his big ol bug eyed gas mask. After 10 minutes in there without a mask he told me to get out of his CBR chamber. I kind of credit the lack of effect due to the fact that so may were running through and took all the gas out with them and the concentration was very small. Now real gas, well that may be a completely different story. Hopefully everyone recognizes it and gets protective gear on NOW. Then there were the little ampules that we were suppose to up cap and stick in our legs to stop the gas effects, that is a different story.

    December 13, 2009 at 7:13 pm |
  34. Joe Akers

    I have been through that exercise many times when I was in the Marines.
    It really didn't bother me. And there was no pain as I recall. There was a sensation that I had sand in my eyes, but we just walked out and faced into the wind and that was that.

    December 13, 2009 at 6:59 pm |
  35. Ut Fiat Libertas

    As many have said, this is standard training and it varies by the degree of sadism practiced by the instructor. Near the end of my AF career, our sadistic instructor announced that we were his last class and that he was retiring. We did the classroom bit and then the chamber. One by one we took off our masks and did as we were told. Basically we were kept in until we had to breathe, then clear the mask and exit. When the last man was out, we put our masks back on and went back in, and made HIM do the drill. He wasn't real enthusiastic about it but he didn't have a lot of choice. SSgt Terry Prochazka, we'll never forget you. Bet you don't forget us either. ;-)

    December 13, 2009 at 5:19 pm |
  36. scaster

    I think I probably went through boot camp at the same time Debra did, at Ft. McClellan, in 1976. Poor Debra couldn't handle going through the chamber the ONE time we went in? Sgt Mjor, I agree with you–she is probably one of those slacker women who gave the rest of us a bad name.....

    December 13, 2009 at 4:23 pm |
  37. Bud

    As a former BCT instructor, I always thought this to be one of the lesser "terrors" a new recruit faces during their training. Most had a good laugh after the effects wore off. Good, effective training!

    December 13, 2009 at 1:50 pm |
  38. David Merchant

    Your reporters need to dig deeper, and not be superficial. As others have noted here, the report misses many of the real points of the test the recruits went through.

    December 13, 2009 at 1:24 pm |
  39. Dave

    I think CNN needs to leave out names, ages, and hometown of recruits. A smart terrorist sleeper cell unit can made contact with family members and over time gain intell about deployments, etc.

    December 13, 2009 at 12:19 pm |
  40. Dave

    Why is all this being placed on the internet for anyone to read?
    ....names of recruits, location of training, maps of locations, training tehniques, etc.

    December 13, 2009 at 12:16 pm |
  41. JJ

    Did the gas chamber Ft. Dix in 1985. Strange, I had a lingering summer cold prior to this exercise and afterward? Clean as a whistle! hehehe. This exercise is as others have said. It builds confidence in your protective mask (M17A2 during my era). Still, it's effect on my cold was great.

    December 13, 2009 at 10:36 am |
  42. Gunny Andrew

    As a former active duty Marine, I respect and admire all services. We have different missions, however. The gas chamber training is extremely uncomfortable, but harmless in the end. Law enforcement agencies use it all the time during a hostage situation. What's the bigt deal. The bit picture of learning how to don and wear a mask is in case of lethal chemical exposure, such as mustard gas of anthrax. Come on Soldiers! I love you all. Being a warrior ain't designed to be fun, but you volunteered, so no complaints. And you, media reporters, try it on for size. Maybe quite your semi-lucrative job as a reporter and join a branch of service. Then you can report with accuracy and claim an honorable discharge.

    Semper Fi,
    Charlie Company 1/9 (Walking Dead) Vietnam

    December 13, 2009 at 10:02 am |
  43. Sean

    I went through this in AF boot camp 2 years ago. I didn't have any problems in there and my sinuses definitely cleared out real well. We had to run 1.5 miles right after we got out of the chamber and I will say that was my fastest 1.5 ever. I've never been able to breath so good as the first couple of hours after the gas chamber!

    December 13, 2009 at 9:54 am |
  44. jesse

    through my different military school, i went through a total of 3 gas chambers. it is routine and not a big deal. the gas mask is effective.

    December 13, 2009 at 9:27 am |
  45. Ed Aikens

    As I recall, when I went through the CS gas chamber in 1976 at Ft. Benning GA, the DS had us in a single file line around the room, holding onto the belt of the guy in front of you. They had us remove our masks then walk slowly around the room in single file until they decided it had been long enough. One poor guy ran out and dropped his mask on the floor, then had to go back in and find it. Ouch. Then during our trek back to the barracks, we were hit with a "surprise attack" of CS gas (Comes in a handy smoke grenade form as well) by the Rangers that had a hand in alot of our training (There was still alot of emphasis on jungle/guerilla warfare following Nam). There was also another incident in which a CS grenade was used as "motivation" to get a couple of trainees to move faster across a rope bridge. Unfortunately, as squad leader, I was last across and stuck on the rope behind them. I then had to do the chamber annually while in Germany defending the West from the "impending" Soviet invasion. The training, while not exactly "fun", was beneficial and definitely memorable, but not in the least bit harmful except maybe for a few bruises and scrapes to those who ran blindly into walls or trees.

    December 13, 2009 at 9:17 am |
  46. Linda in San Antonio

    Good grief, it's just tear gas. When I went to Medical Officer Basic at Fort Sam Houston, the NCOs called it the Confidence Chamber–to teach us that we could trust that our masks would protect us (which they did very nicely). The entire task involved walking into the tent, taking off and putting back on one's mask which anyone could do in just a few seconds of focused attention–just long enough for a small sting–and then out the other side of the tent.

    December 13, 2009 at 5:36 am |
  47. Phil Aquino

    Running was not an option in 1967 at Fort Campbell.

    Further, the squad leaders and platoon leaders were honored by being the last of the bunch to get out.

    December 13, 2009 at 5:28 am |
  48. Gunny

    Wow....been a Marine for 22 years... running from the gas chamber...is that an option?

    December 13, 2009 at 12:42 am |
  49. Adam

    I've recently got my DD214 after five years as a marine grunt, I agree, the gas chamber is not something any veteran from the last 2 decades is amazed by. Civilians though... thats another story. This story is aimed at the less informed civilians out there, not guys like us who yell "Those arent plastic pellets! its CS stupid!"
    but honestly i dont consider someone to have gone from civilian to marine/soldier untill theyve seen combat. as a recruit going into the gas chamber i was more like a civilian then a marine. i dident know anything, it was scary, crazy, and alien. So i think this article is good, some guys about to ship off to boot camp may get a little shot of courage because CS aint so bad after all.. now OC.... thats a little slice of hell

    December 12, 2009 at 10:48 pm |
  50. bob j

    did it in ft knox in 1951,,during korean war ,wasnt so bad ,,you went in with mask on ,were eventually told to take it off ,then to take a big inhale of gas and were allowed to leave tent imediately,, i kinda faked it on the inhale ,and faked the reaction a bit when got out as some others were going thru hell. who knows ,,i might have learned to save self in event was real. when went to korea ,,never even was issued a mask,,in combat zone, didnt even have a weapon til was there a few weeks .said they didnt have any ,and supplies took a long time ,,what an army!

    December 12, 2009 at 7:14 pm |
  51. CBRN in Afghanistan

    Lots of good comments here; some have definitely missed the point. I am a professional CBRN Defense Officer and I conduct this type of training several times per year. While it is correct that we still do this exercise to promote familiarization and confidence in the equipment, we do not condone singing or "sounding off" with a hymn or SSN. Those activities fall into an irreprehensible category known as "Hazing," as well as being poor military pratice. As professionals, we train as we fight. Just as it doesn't make sense to keep your eyes open and sing during an actual chemical attack, it would not make sense in this case. This is not child's play–there is a real threat out there. The mask is removed in the chamber to ensure that personnel can properly don (put on) and clear (evacuate all foreign matter) from the mask. CS ( 2-chlorobenzalmalononitrile) is a riot control agent that has no long term effects, but demonstrates to the user that the equipment works. If there was ever a doubt, my CBRN Specialists and I wear this same equipment into a live VX and Sarin Chamber during our training, and obvously, I'm still here. To answer Dave's question; the mask is modular–the filter can be located on either side.

    December 12, 2009 at 6:12 pm |
  52. McGuigan

    I had kp the day of the chamber. I also had kp on the days of the 7, 10, and 15 mile marches. I either had a cpl of drills that thought they were punishing me, or really liked me enough to keep me from feeling the pain. Drill sgt Jones, and Torres. 1st cannon training batallion ft sill ok b btry bravo plt.

    December 12, 2009 at 4:01 pm |
  53. DEVIL DOG ANONYMOUS

    Try the gas chamber at Edision Range in Camp Pendelton on the Crucible mt mask had a crack in the lens on the mask and the filters had been expired since 1997 I am so glad i went to the Marines instead of the Fat and Happy army oh well The Few and Proud for a reason

    December 12, 2009 at 3:11 pm |
  54. SSG (Ret) Ryan Keeton

    Oh boy do I remember those days! Both because I had to endure it and also because I was the one gassing them. Soldiers learn invaluable survival instincts through this sort of training but what they gain most of all is CONFIDENCE: Confidence that the equipment issued to them really does work and that you can survive such a deadly attack.

    To these three brave soldiers: HOOAH! Keep on driving on!

    December 12, 2009 at 2:49 pm |
  55. Aaron

    Ahhh the gas chamber, blows Claritin out of the water.

    December 12, 2009 at 2:03 pm |
  56. Ben Thayer

    BCT at Ft. Polk LA 1968.

    Same-o as all the war stories above. The chamber was no big deal.

    My own tearful snotty experience was but a minor unpleasantness of my basic COMBAT (do you hear me liberals?) training. Far worse were the tortures of the "alligator low crawl" and the "duck walk" (remember guys?)

    But let's do end this torture of our unfortunate tortured and criminally abused children and please the (thankfully few) liberal idiots above who, by-in-large are totally clueless about clueless.

    The military should eliminate NCBR training altogether so that our precious boys and girls won't "suffer" needlessly, right? HOORAY!!

    But wait... now when they deploy and get hit by Sarin will they know what to do? Of course they won't – and then they'll probably come home in a body bag. Now they won't suffer – ever again!! But they came HOME – Oh joy! And without sufferering the horrors of CS in Basic. Peace on Earth at last.

    Are you happy now liberals? Probably, since you'll now gleefully take the opportunity to blame George Bush for the whole mess.

    No matter...it'll never happen anyway since SAddam never had WMD. WMD don't exist. WMD are against interNAAA tional law. They're illEEEgal. When will you people ever learn???

    But did he have WMD? – Of COURSE he did. He used gas against his own citizens – and this is documented. But due to typically constant and inept UN involvement in the issue, by the time their "inspectors" had arrived in-country and set up for business any WMD had either been hidden or moved out of the country.

    So where are they now? All or most are now in the hands of arms dealers or terrorists; take that to the bank. They're out there, and our troops had better know how to deal with them if the situation arises.

    Bottom line to CNN and the idiot above who discounts accurate reporting...

    If you're going to report, stick to the facts, be accurate, tell the whole story, put your countless foolish liberal views in your hip pocket and consider your article for plausibility beforehand. That would go a long way towards eliminating your frequent idiocies and misleading slanted headlines.

    What a relief that would be!!

    BTW – I see where Tony Blair says he would have made the decision to take out SAddam regardless. You go Tony!!! Maybe you liberals could shift your constant finger pointing to him instead of GWB.

    What a relief THAT would be...

    And it's SAddam – shoeshine boy – not SadDahm – exalted leader. What a great day it was when his head hit the pavement!!!

    December 12, 2009 at 11:59 am |
  57. Bull

    PS: Drill SSgt.Kovalic A-3-2 Ft.Dix 1972.Thanks Sarge,You stood tall.

    December 12, 2009 at 11:57 am |
  58. Bull

    Ahh yes.1972 Ft.Dix NJ gas chamber.Stand around in it.Then when your turn came,take off the mask,state your name,PVT,and SSN.Then put your mask back on & exit...It was my 21st birthday . Best part was mail call as we exited the hut . LOL , glory days !

    December 12, 2009 at 11:44 am |
  59. Jackie

    Ahhh Ft Lost in the Woods. We are here, my husband has been in 17 yrs and he went through the chamber not too long ago, and when he came home, my eyes started burning due to the chemical still on his clothes. It's not just the soldiers, it's the family member who has to wash those clothes. So we kind of get the chamber expericence as well. HA! Go Army!!!!

    December 12, 2009 at 11:32 am |
  60. Donald Brown

    no wonder americans think an airplane could knock a building down or that 2 airplanes could knock down 3 buildings.

    I have changed my mind,, war is great becaue all the really dumb guys from your own country get thinned out.

    If we are as proud & brave as we say, we'd admit a false flag & be in Tell Aviv killing the real terrorists who attacked & DECIEVED the uS on the fraud "9/11".

    have you troops no shame? at long last US Army have you no shame?
    or basic common sense?
    I am Honorably Discharged Army Vet from a dishonorable country.

    December 12, 2009 at 10:11 am |
  61. Deborah

    Hm, I went through this at Dix a bazillion years ago. I just stood there leaking from every pore in my face, as screaming and crying didn't seem to be accomplishing anything for anyone else. I suspected at the time that the main goal of the exercise was entertaining the DS...

    December 12, 2009 at 9:27 am |
  62. spc brian

    yeah, running from the chamber is not an option because the Company Commander (a Captain) was blocking the exit!

    December 12, 2009 at 9:17 am |
  63. Griff

    I believe running from the gas chamber results in going to the back of the line and going through again.

    December 12, 2009 at 8:48 am |
  64. Richard

    As you read all of the comments , one is true .
    Gas chamber tests have always been used in Basic Training.

    MIne was 1960 USAF Lackland AFB

    December 12, 2009 at 8:00 am |
  65. Charlie

    Went through this at Paris Island in 1954 and it had been part of boot camp training for a long time before then. After the tear gas was released, you removed your mask and sang the Marine Corps hymn. If the DI didn't like your rendition of the hymn, you were given the opportunity of singing it a second time. It wasn't pleasant, but it sure gave you a much greater appreciation of the benefits of a properly fitted gas mask.

    December 12, 2009 at 6:49 am |
  66. Tim Hammond

    Hey, this sounds like what the crowd outside the G20 meeting in Pitsburg went through too. Its not just for soldiers anymore! Now we do it to people expressing their First Ammendment Rights.

    P.S. Fort Sill, OK Spring 1998 Hooyaahhhhh

    December 12, 2009 at 5:50 am |
  67. Kimo Williams USAF

    Stay in long enough and the gas chamber becomes just another block of training. OC pepper spray on the other hand, ruins your day everytime. Charlie mike (continue mission) soldier and thank you for joining the team. Hooah!

    December 12, 2009 at 3:37 am |
  68. J Gilbert

    I remember CBR school in Gitmo, Cuba for the Navy, AFTER doing this for Boot. Me and about 3-5 other smart a**'s decided to go through not just the once, not twice, but 4-5 times as a joke.

    The 2nd time in it wasn't nearly as bad. The 3rd time it barely bothered us. The 4th time we started singing "Anchors Away". The 5th time we didn't even bother putting on our masks. They wouldn't let us go back in for a 6th time.

    Yes, the instructors, who go through it all the time, thought we were nuts.

    But I forgot about the shirt I was using that day (long sleeved) and just crammed it into my mask bag. Then came the day when I had to break it out for a General Quarters drill and started wondering why my skin was tingling... I started laughing once I realized the reason.

    December 12, 2009 at 2:28 am |
  69. gaab

    i can't imagie going through bct with a news reporter. i bet they give him hell

    December 12, 2009 at 2:09 am |
  70. USMC Ret

    This story must have been intriguing for the obviously new reporter; guess what "dude", these same recruits will have gas chamber exercises every year as part of a standard training program (aside from what they get gassed with during training exercises in the field). Here's a hint for the new boots, hit up a gas chamber exercise when you have a bad cold – clears it up pretty quick....been there, done that, bought the t-shirt to prove it.

    Please report on something meaningful; perhaps new methodologies for dealing with PTSD or strengthening pre-deployment training for spouses and family members, as examples.

    December 12, 2009 at 1:25 am |
  71. Chad

    I remember going through this myself back in '96 at Fort Jackson. Great times, although there was no running out. The Drill's kept the door closed until everyone had completed the training, and yes we had to breath. Best way to clear the sinus's that I have ever found.

    December 12, 2009 at 12:54 am |
  72. WyexNavy

    I went through the "gas Chamber" in Navy bootcamp in 99. To me it was not too bad. I remember going in with a cold and coming out being able to breath normally. I wish I had one at home from time to time to clear out winter crud.

    December 12, 2009 at 12:21 am |
  73. Dan Bowen

    As Marines we drilled for this prior to entering the gas chamber. We entered a chamber with cs tablets on a bunson burner. A DI was running a broom around the room sweeping all the settled gas crystals into big clouds. He encased each Marine with the clouds of gas crystals.
    We felt a severe burning sensation on our skin. If we rubbed the skin, the burning sensation was much worse. We breathed in our masks for several minutes while the room became engulfed with the gas.
    We had DI's stationed at the doors. We could not leave and that was made very clear.
    The order came to remove our masks. We were ordered to breathe deeply. We then sang the Marine Corps hymn, stated our general orders and our names, ssn and place of birth.
    Only then were we allowed to leave the chamber. We puked. Snot ran in think ropes from our noses to the ground. Our lungs burned and our eyes watered. It was not fun. It is not meant to be fun.
    On one other note, the crystal CS that was used on us was stronger than what other branches of the military use. We were told that one reason is the stuff we would use in combat to clear caves or bunkers would be the same stuff we had used in the training.
    This training was not useless. We hated wearing our NBC in storm/shield. We hated the constant drills and scares about NBC from both scuds and shells.
    Ask the Marines who were there about the dead animals. About how areas we walked through were later roped off and people were protected from entering. (only after we had been in the area for a few days and Army testing units showed up in thier NBC Hummers.)
    Ask the familys of the two Marines who died when thier amtrack rolled over a chemical mine. It's in the Marines official history but not in the DOD's...they deny it. The 2nd Btn USMC offical history says differently.
    Ask those two Marines if this drill was important. Wait a minute, they cant tell you just how important it is. But you can learn from thier deaths. It is important. As is every aspect of training. You might never have to use any of your training for survival. But you might. You never know do you?

    December 11, 2009 at 10:56 pm |
  74. retiredonce

    (I curious about the new style protective masks with the large filter can on the left side. The old mask I used had filters inside the mask on each side, so both left and right hand people could still sight and shoot their rifle. How would a left handed person use this type of mask and be able to shoot with the large filter on the left side?)

    The filters can be switched to the opposite side if necessary to allow proper operation of their weapon. In addition, kudos to these young people for raising their right hands in the defense of their nation!

    December 11, 2009 at 10:08 pm |
  75. George O

    I went through this during SpecOps training in 1983...our team knealt in a circle with our masks in our waist pouches. The Trainer popped a CS grenade in the center of the circle, and we had to take a deep breath and recite name, rank and SSN, then take out our masks, don and clear them. Once all 12 of us did, then we could stand up and exit the bunker. My sinuses were never clearer, and I remember the drool and vomit coming out of the voice boxes. I wouldn't say "Good times!" lol!

    Standard training demonstrating the utility of out NBC gear.

    December 11, 2009 at 9:35 pm |
  76. William Mclain

    I am the proud father of Will and first I would like to say that this story means a lot to our family, Jason Carroll and his crew has been to our house and they were professionals and gentlemen, I also think this story will help people realize what our young people have gone through for 100 years to protect us and the way we live, like many younger people today Will finished High School and did not have a direction so he chose to go into the Army and I believe he will return a soldier both physically and mentally improved and become a better man from the training. Don't get me wrong his mom and I worry all the time that he will return safe. William Mclain Jr. could not have made me any more prouder then he has now and if he reads this we love him dearly, William Mclain

    December 11, 2009 at 9:18 pm |
  77. pfc johnson

    i graduated ft. leonard wood bct/ait june 4 09 ,31b hooah! gas chamber aint to bad,it feels like instant sun burn and irritates your skin a little, nose runs like crazy,and its a little hard to breathe, but overall not bad. lookin forward to seeing more of ft. lost in the woods, god to look back now that im done there! its crazy weather in missouri,if i never go back it would be to soon haha. army strong. pfc johnson

    December 11, 2009 at 7:19 pm |
  78. A. Smith, Oregon

    The exercise is simply a psychological support to troops that are exposed to a poisonous gas.

    Some poisonous gases when combined plug up gas masks, others simply dissolve gas mask filters, making them worthless and placebo's at best.

    Unlike Russian troops, American soldiers rarely have personal radiological dosimeters and counters and yet if Iran is attacked, the release of highly radioactive Uranium Hexafloride gas would spread thru out that entire region from thousands of broken centrifuges.

    Such 'gas masks' would be useless to Hexafloride gas, and the soldiers wouldn't know they were bathed in a radioactive gas until after the fact.

    Nothing new about those 'facts' when the Republican lawmakers and the Dept. of Defense sent American soldiers into Iraq and Afghanistan in HumVee's knowing full well those vehicles would be blasted to shreds by the IED's produced by the same teams previously trained by the CIA to make IED's to destroy military vehicles.

    December 11, 2009 at 6:26 pm |
  79. Nuc Med SGT

    I remeber my day in the gas chamber like it was yesterday. Although it is not pleasant, I think it's something that we should all watch our in-laws go through!!!! Ha Ha. Just kidding my in-laws are the best. CSM Michael Stuart. You are the first retired CSM or Active Duty CSM I've ever even heard of that is a Doctor.

    December 11, 2009 at 5:48 pm |
  80. Danny Tongco

    I remember the gas chamber at Ft. Leonard Wood, that was in September 1993, I was apart of Alpha 1610, best basic training company on post. Hoo Rah!!!

    December 11, 2009 at 5:20 pm |
  81. Alex Cisby

    Bubba551, yes, when I went through there was no "quit" option either. We used mild CS gas. The drill sergeant made us sing the Army song with our gas masks off to make sure we got a few good lungfuls of that stuff. I have never expelled so much snot from my body as I did that day.

    December 11, 2009 at 4:19 pm |
  82. weehawk

    Wait until they tell the recruits if they are in the field and a possible NBC attack has happened but confirmation is needed, the lowest ranking soldier is made to take off his mask and play canary in a coal mine.

    December 11, 2009 at 4:02 pm |
  83. Steve L.

    The purpose of the exercise is to show the trainees that their gas masks are very effective at keeping out gas. There's no "passing the test" involved.

    December 11, 2009 at 3:57 pm |
  84. p

    OMG i remeber when i did air force basic trng... this one chick decides that she didnt want to wear her mask, she lasted a good 5 mins in the chamber. lol.

    December 11, 2009 at 3:23 pm |
  85. Loren E. Carr

    My battle buddy was a 33 year old Peurto Rican hispanic man whose last name was Otero, this guy was a tank! I will never forget that experience or him, I was 17 years old at the time, and this man was faster than I was, and I was very fast then, always in A group running, always one of the first five-ten people to cross the finish line. He made me realize that age is nothing but a number, it's how you feel inside, and I hold onto that to this day, I am now 29 and still grateful that I joined the US Army at such a young age. I don't think I could have done it at his age! He really was an inspiration! He even won the physical fitness award at the end of our training in Fort Jackson, South Carolina, and it was in the summer during record temperatures!!! The year in case you are wondering, 1998. What an experience!

    December 11, 2009 at 2:31 pm |
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