by DeJanay Booth
Feature Photo by Josh Newell
At 7 a.m., Spc. Sean Kindle, from Fort Bliss, Texas, and other cadre members unloaded the boxes of equipment from the military cargo truck. The cadre stacked the boxes next to each other so the cadets could grab what they needed and set up the teaching stations.
Cadets arrived at the site and were given an introduction to the training. They practiced putting on the suits and masks at the stations, making sure that they properly fit. Any missed step and they ran the risk of feeling the burns and irritations immediately walking in the chamber.
The anticipation rose as they stood in line outside of the building. By the sergeants’ order, they walked in a straight line before turning the corner to the back door of the building.
“Are ya’ll ready?” a sergeant asked. They nodded their heads, confirming that they were. A few even gave the thumbs up.
Once inside, two capsules were broken over a burner, releasing the gas.
“All right, jump in place,” said one of the sergeants. The cadets hopped up and down, regulating their heart rate. Standing in the chamber, cadets of the Leader Training Course (LTC) Regiment Four experienced their first whiff of tear gas in the Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) training.
One at a time, the young soldiers took off their masks and were asked no more than two questions before stepping out of the chamber.
Cadet Francine Alba, a junior at University of California-San Diego in La Jolla, said, “I was more nervous about the question they were going to ask like, ‘What are they going to say to me?’ I couldn’t remember my favorite color.”
“Apparently my favorite food is pizza and I don’t eat it all the time,” Cadet Hilary Kuhns laughed. “I’m like, ‘Yeah, it’s pizza!’” Kuhns is a graduate student at Capital University in Bexley, Ohio.
Lt. Col. Decker Hains, the officer in charge of CBRN, said the cadets have not experienced tear gas before, and in LTC, they are not required to remove their masks. However, all of the cadets in Regiments One, Two and Three have taken theirs off.
“The LTC cadets, this year, really had a lot of fun at this site,” Hains said, a professor of military science at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo. This is the first year CBRN training was conducted in LTC.
Cadets took off the suits, putting them in the labeled boxes before dropping their gloves in a tub and soaking their masks in four containers of bleach. When training ended, the cadre collected all of the equipment, making sure they were accounted for. Two people stayed on guard until five in the evening when the masks were put back in their carriers.
CBRN training opens up one of many opportunities for LTC, giving the cadets an experience that they can talk about from now on.