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A Marine breaks the seal in his M50 Joint Service General Purpose Mask during gas chamber training at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, N.C., Feb. 10, 2016. Marines with Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 14 faced the CS gas as part of their qualification to familiarize themselves with the equipment and skills if faced with a biochemical attack. Marines of every military occupational specialty must be proficient with the equipment as it is part of every Marines’ basic skills.

Photo by Cpl. Neysa Huertas Quinones

MALS-14 Marines demonstrate fundamental skills during gas

22 Feb 2016 | Cpl. Neysa Huertas Quinones The Official United States Marine Corps Public Website

More than 30 Marines with Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 14 suited up to conduct gas chamber training at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, North Carolina, Feb. 10.

The Marines received classes on Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear warfare which taught them about types of chemical weapons and how to survive in a chemical warfare environment, as well as how to recognize the symptoms of a biological attack. 

Following their classes, the Marines brought their personal protective equipment, including their M50 Joint Service General Purpose Gas Mask, and were issued Mission Oriented Protective Posture gear, before stepping inside the gas chamber to begin practical application training. 

“Conducting gas chamber training as often as we do is just part of keeping up with our mission readiness,” explained Cpl. Samuel Ballard, a parachute rigger with MALS-14. “Knowing this skill will help us accomplish the mission regardless of obstacles we may face. We have to go through the chamber at a minimum of once every two years. It becomes more like refresher courses since we become so used to it.”

According to Sgt. Christian Nelson, the CBRN noncommissioned officer in charge with Marine Wing Headquarters Squadron 2, inside the chamber Marines were exposed to CS gas, it is a particulate that when exposed to a heat source cause the crystals to irritate the skin. 

“When you break the seal on your mask, or walk through the chamber, the CS effects your skin and helps you identify if you are using the equipment the right way,” explained Nelson.

According to Nelson, if proper protective equipment is not utilized, Marines would potentially become infected and contaminated. If Marines do not know how to use their gear properly, they may not survive a critical situation which would not only harm the Marine, but would affect the entire unit because Marines would be out of the fight.

“We may or may not ever use what we practice here in a real life situation, but it prepares us to use it if we ever have to,” said Ballard. “We can’t control what happens when we are in a combat environment, so every bit of training helps.”

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