The very night that I arrived in Camp Commando
, I experienced my first Scud
missile alert. It was during the dead of night and I had no real idea of what was going on. In fact, I hadn't even had a chance to see the compound in daylight. But, anyway, there were these concrete SCUD bunkers
outside of every tent
, by the port-o-johns
, by the shower
trailer, all over the place.
So this alarms sounds in the middle of the night, and I had no idea what it was about, but everyone else was donning their gas mask
s, so I followed suit. The fact that everyone was donning their gas masks was quite a wake-up call.
With our flak jacket
helmets, and gas masks on, we all ran out to the nearest Scud bunker and huddled their, squatting, peering at each other, me wondering if I was going to die on my first night in this strange part of the world. And not in glorious chaotic combat like I'd perhaps imagined, but squatting there, waiting for some Soviet
chunk of steel to fall on my head, or some barely tangible substance to invade my body and kill my nervous system, or melt my lungs, or whatever.
I never heard the impact on that one.
But I was told later, that just a few days earlier, a Scud had hit right outside the front gate of Camp Commando, and since then everyone had been taking the drills very seriously.
A few days later, I was used to them, and it was just another part of the day. Scud alarms, gas masks, kevlar, flak, squat in bunker, damn it's hot, when do I got post next, PX
s yet, etc, etc.
We even got a few laughs out of the Scud drills. Thing is, we all test our gas masks in the gas chamber
before we take them into the field
. And we test them by walking into a room full of CS
gas with the masks on, making sure you're not getting any leakage, then taking them off, putting them back on, clearing them, and testing for leakage again. But this usually means a little bit of CS, which is basically tear gas, will get into your mask, and if you don't wash your mask real good, a trace amount will stay on your gas mask, and it'll activate when it gets wet, for example, if you sweat.
Well, one time, this guy I'd known since SOI
, probably on our third or fourth Scud drill, started feeling his face burn from the CS residue. And he started freaking out.
He kept screaming, "It's burning, it's burning, it's getting in my mask!" and he pulled out his Atropine
self-injecting syringe, and prepped it, and started frantically asking, "Should I use it? Should I use it?"
Another time, I got all the way in the Scud bunker and noticed that the guy squatting across from me was completely naked except for the mask, helmet, and flak. I looked at him, and he gave me that little chin-thrust that means, 'Hey, what's up?' I wasn't sure how to respond.
I suppose this has been my first nodeshell rescue... *shrug*