I was surfing on YouTube tonight and I stumbled across the video below (watch and check it out).
The video shows some recruits going through the Gas Chamber during Basic Training. Watching the video sure did bring back a bunch of memories. I’d like to take a few minutes and share those memories with you.
I went through Basic Training in the winter of 1996 (Jan – Mar) at Fort Jackson, South Carolina. From my first day of Basic Training I was dreading the Gas Chamber. For most people it’s not that big of a deal, but boy was I concerned. I’d heard some rumors that some recruits had died in the Gas Chamber several years before (not true, just a rumor) and I didn’t want to be one of them! This was a rumor spreading through my platoon and I fell for it.
We went to the Gas Chamber Training Area in the late morning. For lunch they served us good ol’ chili mac! I didn’t eat much because of my nerves. After lunch, our platoon divided into two groups. We lined up outside the Gas Chamber and put on our protective masks. I was part of the second group to go in so I got to watch the other group come out. That was disheartening. Some folks had tears in their eyes, others puked, and some laid down on the ground as if they were dying.
When I got in the Gas Chamber I didn’t really see the big deal. I felt fine! I quickly realized I felt fine because I still had my gas mask on. When the instructor told us to take our masks off, I thought he was crazy. Reluctantly, I did what he told me and I can swear I felt my heart stop!
Within less than a second my lungs were on fire! I puked (didn’t look pretty with the chili mac). I felt like I was in the Gas Chamber for a few hours, but we made our way to the exit doors and cleared the building. When I got outside, I felt like the happiest person in America. I was happy to be alive.
We can laugh now, but it was scary then.