Into and out of the chamber
MARINE CORPS AIR STATION FUTENMA, Okinawa - It was obvious by all the teary eyes and sniffling noses that the training was a real gas. About 60 Marines went through chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear training Wednesday at Marine Corps Air Station Futenma’s gas chamber.
This annual mandatory training for all Marines requires troops to don special protective gear and enter a chamber filled with 2-chlorobenzal malononitrile, better known as CS gas, a tear gas used by the military and by law enforcement agencies.
After three to five minutes performing physical exercises in the gas-filled chamber, troops break the seal of their masks and then clear them of gas.
It’s essential training for Marines, Gunnery Sgt. Edward Compton Jr., a training chief with Headquarters Battalion, Marine Corps Bases Japan, said during Wednesday’s training.
"It’s the safest way that we can show them the gear works" and give them confidence that it will protect them if a more lethal gas was present, he said.
The CS gas creates a burning sensation in the eyes, causes mucus membranes to emit mucus and causes itchiness on the skin, said Cpl. Michael Batterton, the chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear specialist running the gas chamber.
"They know if they’re breathing CS gas," so they know if they are using the equipment properly, he said.
Pfc. Adam Hawkyard definitely knew he’d been in the gas chamber, getting a good whiff of CS when he had to break the seal of his mask.
Eyes tearing and nose streaming after he left the chamber, he summed up the training in two words: "It sucked."
But if Hawkyard or his fellow Marines ever find themselves in a gas attack, Batterton said, they will know their equipment works.