As usual I was reminded of this story by someone else’s tale of their gas chamber experience.
We had one guy I’ll call…R. Not his real name.
Coffee is one of the first things I remembered about him when I started writing this. As someone who joined the Army basically straight out of high school, I never drank coffee; still don’t. This dude, on the other hand, ate the coffee grounds from MREs just raw. Like would straight up pour them into his mouth sans water or anything else and munch on it like trail mix.
R was in his late 30s and had lived on the streets most of his adult life. He’d gotten into drugs early on and was pretty open about the mistakes he’d made. Said he’d snorted, smoked, shot up, inserted, or ingested pretty much anything you could think of plus a few things he came up with himself. Lived out of his pickup truck, did laundry at his sister’s once in a while, but was together enough to somehow still be a man whore and convince women to take him home on a regular basis. So he’d crash there till they booted him and repeat the process.
He was a character for sure and as the oldest guy in our company became sort of an unofficial crazy uncle mascot. Didn’t matter what we were doing, dude was like Dopey from the 7 dwarves - always had a little half smile on his face, would crack jokes, keep us laughing, was mostly just happy to have turned things around (recruiter had forced him to get sober for a month before coming to basic training and then of course you’re cold turkey).
Enter the gas chamber.
Most of us, I think, had missed this part of the brochure when signing up. Quite a few were scared as shit. R, on the other hand, trucked on ahead as usual.
I don’t know how everyone else did it, but when it was our day, we marched out and there was another platoon already going through. So we started lining up outside for gear checks and to test our masks, while catching the occasional whiff as groups went through. This was enough for some to feel the bite and start coughing, not so much for others, so we didn’t really think too much of it.
When it was R’s turn to go through, his little group went in…then came out without R. We sort of noticed but were too busy hacking up a lung and doing the arm waving thing to think about it. By the time the 2nd - 3rd group came out and there was still no R, we figured he’d fucked up somehow and the DS had sent him back around to start over. Eventually he came out though….and wasn’t coughing despite his thoroughly saturated presence setting some of us off again.
Turns out he was immune. He credited it to all the drugs he’d done. Said he’d felt his eyes water a little but that was it. So when the DS made everyone take their masks off and recite the soldier’s creed and whatnot to force you to breathe…he made it through the whole thing and then just stood there waiting for the next order. DS moved him over to the corner, they threw fresh tabs on the pot, and had a conversation with him through 2 more groups before realizing it wasn’t going to change anything and let him out.
So yeah. TL;DR - had a guy who was completely immune to CS gas. Stayed in the gas chamber for like 10-15 min with no mask on.
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