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There are but two powers in the world, the sword and the mind. In the long run the sword is always beaten by the mind.

-- Napoleon Bonaparte

Gulf WarNBC. Nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons. These were some of the most thought about things in the blast furnace of Iraq. Not that we did not have other things to think about but the idea of a virus that could live 3-5 days in the desert environment was not something to take lightly.
I guess the reason I thought about it so much was because our unit had nothing to stop it. If we got hit we basically died unless of course the dosage was metered by drug intervention for reasons of scientific study ( more on that later ).

I had studied the flash cards of military vehicles for years and knew all of the Russian vehicles we came across like I knew my own. The Russians have a very nice decontamination system that uses what amounts to a jet engine strapped to the back of a rather large truck. It was said this machine could decon a vehicle in seconds were our pressure washers would take many minutes to do the same job. Minutes might not matter to you here and now but every second did to us then.

Being in a signal company, no matter how many generals kissed our butts* and begged to use our systems, we were the last in line for decon. To make matters worse our equipment was rather sensitive and we could not use standard DS2 decon spray. This spray would melt all of our interconnect and loop-through cables which meant we could not operate properly. The equipment was always first priority. Without this simple decon the vehicles were unfit to travel in to the main decon point. They decided to issue us bleach instead. The only drawback to this was that the bleach destroyed our protective mask inserts, leaving us up shit creak without a log to float on. You get the picture, again we die. We ( the lower enlisted ) had decided screw the bleach, we would ride with the chemical on us rather then in us.

All of this was taken in stride by my buddies and me as the weeks wore on, and we gradually crept with the division closer to the front. Hell we figured our chances of survival were as good as many others and better then some because we had our perimeter inside of the division perimeter. That was always a comfort until we crossed the border to find tanks dug in while we set up our big christmas tress on top of the ground and ran our shots out of magnesium aluminum shelters. Thank god for strong backs and deep foxholes.

I had a few jobs besides running the commo vans. I was one of four sixty gunners in our perimeter, and was also issued LAW's and AT4's. I also oversaw the final decon check point on site. Basically this involved running an M8 alarm over anything and anyone we needed to come in contact with. Since I already had an M8 in this capacity it was decided I would use it in the perimeter at my foxhole as an early warning system.

We had another early warning system we don't talk about much in the civilian world. If you found yourself to be on a decon clearance team ( a team that would clear an area for the unit before jump ) or within the perimeter of a chemically compromised site, one person would always be first to unmask. Not a great task to have. Would make you feel rather useless I imagine as you were obviously the least needed in the unit to find this task assigned to yourself. So basically you unmask after the "test kits" said the site was clear. Only a few seconds at first, gradually increasing the time until all the others were satisfied you were not going to die. Kind of arcane huh? Like I said, that's not a good job to wake up with.

We had many instances were our alarms would go off indicating the presence of chemicals, and went to MOP4 and MOP5 almost dailey for a time. Sometimes many times a day. I had not noticed it much at the time but looking back I now realize that most of the scuds pointed our way would airburst. They did not airburst from patriot missiles as was said stateside. The patriots clearly missed the objective and exploded at a higher altitude nine out of ten times. Guess that's why we sold them to Saudi Arabia and Israel after we left. All of this activity had some weird effects on people. One of my team members , convinced of impending death did not even make the effort to mask at one point. Almost had to beat the shit out of this crewperson to get them back into reality.

We dealt with this on a daily basis so no surprise it was taking a toll on some of the more sensitive individuals. The whole time this is going on, in almost every instance, division passed it down that it was a false alarm, no chemicals had been deployed. I am the one sitting there monitoring the damn M8 while division tells me it's not happening.

After a few months of this we get a call one morning to meet with the NBCNCOIC. We all proceeded to a GP large tent used for eating ( if you were stupid and not living in a foxhole ) What came next shocked me. Our NBCNCOIC told us there had been some supply mistake. He told us some of our equipment had been mis-issued. To get to the point he told us our mask disk inserts, mask filter inserts, and 3 of 5 lot numbers of our MOP gear were training devices. In other words we had been sent out into this without real equipment, drugged up ( this is another story ) and had been allowed to be contaminated.

I will tell you something here, the agents they dropped on us were so strong the Army developed another MOP level just for us, MOP5. This new MOP level consisted of all of the MOP gear now covered by our rain gear as the charcoal of the suit was no match anyway for the shit they had. To find out it was all bogus ( they said the disks in the M8 alarm were phony too, that's why we got so many "false alarms" ) was a seriouse blow to my belief system.
Note: by David


Comments

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Re: NBC, nuclear-biological-chemical
by Anonymous
on Sep 06, 2001
I have tried to follow the plight of Gulf War vets. With all the misinformation the military releases it is diffucult to make heads or tails of anything.
I was talking to my primary care doctor at the hospital yesterday. He mentioned all the oil fires in the gulf. He said it is impossible to clear inhaled biological agents from the lungs. Petroleum products are biological agents.
The plight of Desert Storm veterans reminds me of the problems Vietnam vets had getting the military and the V.A. to admit and recognize the dangers of agent orange. 30 odd years later they are still withholding critical facts.
I hope the lesson learned from agent orange will facilitate a quicker resoulution to the Gulf War Syndrome which is very real.

Re: NBC, nuclear-biological-chemical
by Anonymous
on Sep 06, 2001

It's been over ten years and the government is still in denial go to the vetconcerns area and read what the VA and govt is doing to our Gulf War Vets. I'm sorry but it's my belief that as a people those that serve in the military are all expendable on and off the battlefield. We now have two armies waiting to die instead of one. Those that came out of Vietnam and those that came out of the Gulf War. These Gulf War Vets are mostly our childrens ages. Guess the next round will be our grand children....arrow>>>>>>>


Re: NBC, nuclear-biological-chemical
by
on Feb 08, 2002
sure sounds like we chew alot of the same dust!

Keep your head up brother and never let the bastards win!

Re: NBC, nuclear-biological-chemical
by
on Feb 08, 2002
sure sounds like we chewed alot of the same sand.

keep your head up brother, never let the bastards win!

Re: NBC, nuclear-biological-chemical
by Anonymous
on Apr 12, 2002
I probably ran the same type commo van as you. Was a transmission system operator, reclassed to aviation once I got back. I wasn't on the nbc team, I was on the field sanitation team...yeah, exactly. Different biological hazard entirely.

Got so sick of those stupid M8's going off all the time, we finally ignored them.

An nbc story:

I am manning my M-60 point, and about 2 or 3 hundred meters in front of me, this cuccv stops, and I can see the driver waving at me. I'm thinking maybe he is lost...had a lot of that, even a blackhawk one time. The sent the crewchief over to ask one of our guys where he was (as if we had a clue).

Anyway, I wave back, and he keeps waving, I wave back, and I'm thinking this is really stupid, when the guy finally gets out of the vehicle and I see what he is really doing: the old "gas, gas, gas" hand and arm signal.

Little late, you know. 3ACR wasn't really good at filling us in on the details. We had to sort of catch it by osmosis. Needless to say, we were plenty sick of those alarms and false alarms, so I gave him one last wave and got back to camel spotting.

One last story:

The night we got the ziploc baggie of meds...I think it was around the beginning of the air war...anyway, we get a baggie of pills. MY section sergeant hands to me and gives me the take the green one x-times a day, the white ones x-times a day...and I told him to hold on a minute so I could write it down and he starts again and he screws up the dosage info. I ask around, and everyone has different information. Noone knows how much to take of what.

So I decided to just do the best I could. All I know is that little white one about done me in. I took it and had a reaction within an hour. I only took one, and it was the first one I took, so by default, I couldn't have screwed it up. Anyway in less than an hour, I get all the symptoms of nerve agent poisoning. I'm sitting in my hole, it's about 1am, and I have to crawl back on my hands and knees and wake up my boss so he can finish my guard duty.
He wasn't happy, but I am sure he got plenty of sleep anyway.

After a while, I felt okay. I think it was the next morning before I felt normal again...can't remember if I took any more of the meds. I probably did though. Long story, but I really didn't care about my health at the time. I haven't kept up with symptoms of any illness, so I wouldn't know if I have any problems. All I can think of off hand is that I don't seem to remember things like I used to, and I don't concentrate really well. Other than that, I can't think of anything. Wow, I haven't thought of that stuff in a long while.


Re: NBC, nuclear-biological-chemical
by Anonymous
on May 22, 2002
I was with 1st Marine Division Fox Battery 2nd Battalion 11th Marine Regiment. We got our pills on ship. The "Docs" didn't know what the pills were exactly so we decided not to take them. We did have one guy that did take his pills and sure enough he started twitching after a couple of hours. Two weeks later we got word not to take anymore. From what I've got over the years is that the whole idea to the pills was we could build up an amunnity to the nerve agents. Who is the moron who came up with that one. Germs are one thing, chemicals are different. The government has been doing this to the millitary for as long as we've had a millitary. Nothing suprises me anymore. I just wonder when the "Brass" will figure it out and realize that doing experiments on the people that protect them isn't a good idea. Take care guys and, take everything your govenment tells you with a grain of salt.

Lonnie Rush Sgt. USMC
Semper Fi

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