Photo Information

MWHS-2 Marines help each other secure their chemical protective suits before entering the Cherry Point gas chamber for their annual qualification, Feb. 24.

Photo by Pfc. Samantha H. Arrington

Gas, gas, gas: MWHS-2 Marines execute gas chamber requalification

23 Mar 2010 | Pfc. Samantha H. Arrington

On the morning of March 20, 1995, five cult members boarded different subway trains in central Tokyo.  The cult members carried and released plastic bags filled with liquid sarin, a toxic substance classified as a weapon of mass destruction, into the Tokyo subway trains.

The attack killed 12 and injured an estimated 6,000 commuters. Injuries ranged from migraines to comas.

The Marine Corps participates in daily, monthly and annual training exercises to remain the nation’s 911 force in readiness and to be prepared for situations like the 1995 Tokyo attack.

The ability to stop such attacks may not be possible but through training, Marines stay prepared and remain ready for any situation.

Most people would not look forward to a trip to the gas chamber, but for Marines it’s all part of their routine training and qualification.

More than 60 Marines with Marine Wing Headquarters Squadron 2 held their annual gas chamber requalifications, Feb. 24.

Prior to entering the gas chamber, the Marines received a series of classes covering proper fit and usage of gas masks.

After a safety briefing and instructions, the leathernecks were ushered into a small brick room 10 to 15 at a time. The room was hot and a single window was covered with a thick haze of OrthoChlorobenzylidene Malononitrile, more commonly known as CS or tear gas.

Inside the chamber, Marines followed the instructor’s orders to perform jumping jacks, increasing their heart rate and making them breathe heavily. The Marines also shook their heads side to side, to demonstrate the mask’s mobility. Finally, they broke the seal on the mask, exposing their faces to the gas.

As the Marines performed these tasks, their skin, eyes and throats burned.

“Marines never know what environment they are going to be in,” said Cpl. Ryan C. Anderson, a chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear defense specialist with MWHS-2. “This training is necessary.”

The Marines who exited the gas chamber welcomed the fresh air. Their faces were bright red and dripping with sweat.

“This is my first gas chamber qualification since I was in boot camp,” said Lance Cpl. Joshua A. Herbison, a saxophone player for the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing Band. “It was a good refresher course, and I am more confident in my ability to react to a situation where I might need these skills.”

Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point