'Vanguard' Soldiers unmask with confidence during CBRN training
January 19, 2012
FORT STEWART, Ga. - The smoke caused by burning O-chlorobenzylidene-malononitirle gas capsules wafted slowly to the top of the chamber. When the door at the head of the building opened and the Soldiers stepped in, the smoke snaked toward the opening, almost inviting the Soldiers to come in and play.
The Soldiers, with B Troop, 6th Squadron, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, faced the smoke and invisible gas as their final task in completing quarterly Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear training, Jan. 9.
Specialist Victor A. Castillo, a native of New York, and a chemical operations specialist with B Troop, 6/8 Cav. Regt., said the training focused on the proper wear of the field protective mask and the Joint Service Lightweight Integrated Suit Technology protective suit, and challenged the Soldiers to inhale choke-inducing gas to gain confidence in their equipment.
The chemical operations specialist said that while the training was important it was also fun to see the Soldiers' reactions after they unmasked.
"It's pretty funny seeing people freak out," Spc. Castillo said. "I find it funny and I'm pretty sure a lot of people find it funny."
As the Soldiers scattered out the side door of the building, wincing, moaning and expectorating, Soldiers who had completed the training took photos and laughed, their own eyes dripping tears from the irritation they had experienced themselves only moments before.
Specialist John E. Bulloch, a native of Hillsdale, Mich., and a cavalry scout with 6/8 Cav. Regt., said unmasking inside the chamber was fun, and that he did the best he could to recite his social security number, his rank and his last name when he unmasked inside the chamber.
Specialist Bulloch said it was a difficult task, however, because the gas choked him and burned his eyes.
Private First Class Guiovanny Lopez, a native of Miami, and a cavalry scout with 6/8 Cav. Regt., said he didn't fare as well when he tried to speak inside the chamber. Lopez said he and his squad had to sing "The Dog-Faced Soldier" song.
"I probably said…the first sentence, that's it," Pfc. Lopez said. "Then I started coughing.
Private First Class Lopez said that despite the momentary inability to breathe, the training helped show him and the members of his unit how to properly protect themselves in a chemical environment.