Just a quick update, CS gas is fun stuff! But not really... Anyways, we were issued our M40 FPM gas masks the other day and today was our first chance to use them. We got issued MOPP suits which are charcoal-lined utility chemical suits designed for combat use (ask anyone who's worn one in the desert if they agree with that statement). On a cold day like today they were nice and toasty, however highly ineffective due to their repeated washing (water ruins the charcoal). The point of us being issued them was based on a nice story that the sergeant running the classes told us. Apparently he told an earlier company that he thought it was funny to go in the gas chamber and then go 'crop dust' the PX (base store). The CS gas clings to clothing, skin and hair, so he would walk in and shake off and watch the effects. Well the company that he was telling this story to decided it would be funny to all walk into our barracks Subway and do the same. This ended not so well as they gassed the girl behind the counter to the point that the gas/she ruined the food as she experienced the typical symptoms: runny nose (more like pouring), coughing, watery eyes, and sometimes vomiting. Thanks to those Lt's, we now all wear the suits into the chamber to reduce the amount of gas on our clothing.
A quick rundown on what the gas chamber is like: we don our protective suits and masks and do a quick check on our masks to ensure a proper seal. We then proceed into the chamber, which resembles a European spa, in a sick way. Through the cloudy interior we could see the instructors running a small camp stove in the center with CS pellets, pumping out smoke. We then do a 3-part test, taking off our masks further off every time and putting them back on and clearing them, ending with us taking them completely off and putting them back on again. At the end was the "Trail of Tears", which involved taking our masks off, putting them away, and then doing a lap inside the chamber before pouring outside into fresh air. I kept my eyes closed and my breath held until I reached the last wall when I lost it, breathing in a lung full of the gas. I tried to stop coughing, but the damage was done. I hit the fresh air and stood off to the side, snot, tears and spit running down my face. Laughing like only crazy people would, we poured water in our eyes and slowly the gas faded and we felt fine again. Looking back now, it's really funny and I can only imagine the joys that the instructors get every time they watch that.