Will you take off your mask?
By Tanner Cole
During the Leader Training Course every Cadet is given a choice. Will they take off their mask?
The 3rd Regiment stood in circles in the woods behind Fort Knox’s tear gas chamber. Each group was being trained on the proper usage of their gas masks, and they were about to enter the chamber in order to verify their new knowledge. Once inside, the Cadets would decide for themselves whether or not to remove their mask and experience the effects of tear gas.
Some of the Cadets, such as David Bissig, of Temple University in Philadelphia, were getting anxious.
“I’m a little nervous,” Bissig said. “I’ve never done anything like this and I’ve seen this used on people before. They didn’t look so happy when the got out of it.”
Regardless of his fears, Bissig planned to taste the gas and grow stronger from it.
“The reason I’m taking it off is because I’ll be here at LDAC,” he said. “I want to know, when I’m actually getting graded, what to expect. Hopefully this helps.”
One-by-one the Cadets entered the chamber until it was full, and then one-by-one they ran out. Inside they performed mild aerobic exercises before removing their masks.
Eduardo Santos, of Elizabeth City State University in North Carolina, was excited for the experience.
“I’m kind of excited for it,” Santos said. “I’ve never experienced anything like this before. I like the thrill of it.”
Upon removing their masks, Cadets are met with a wave of burning sensations, flowing tears and suffocating mucus. Despite
the effects, the entire regiment demonstrated their solidarity as a unit and removed their masks.
Some, like Michael Meyers, of the University of South Alabama in Mobile, did not take kindly to the gas. He still powered through.
“Why is this happening?” Meyers said. “OK, I’m good, I’m good. It hit me fast. It hit me faster than lightning. It burns. I feel like crap. I feel like all my intestines are spinning.”
Teaching the Cadets confidence in their equipment was the stated intent of the training. An added respect for tear gas was simply a byproduct. Now that they have both, the 3rd Regiment is one step closer to becoming the leaders of tomorrow.