Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Another Typical Day in the Gas Chamber


So everybody keeps asking me how Edward has been doing in Basic. How do you answer a question like that? My impression of Basic Training is that it really really sucks for everybody, but that it's a necessary evil. So... I just got a letter from Edward today talking about his experience in the gas chamber and though I'd share:

"We had a few hours briefing about the operation of our chem mask. Pretty typical stuff. Most people were a mixture of nervous/excited. Through the trees we could see the squat brown building lurking like a beast. I personally am not especially fond of gas masks, it feels like you're breathing through a straw, but I can tell you it beats the alternative. They have a sliding metal door and a drill Sergeant stands there telling us that we're all going to die.

Inside, the walls are damp concrete, kind of like a basement. The lights are dim or maybe it seems that way through the gas or the fogged up glass of the mask.

Suddenly we are instructed to break the seal of our mask and expose our nose and mouth and recite our name, rank and social security number. After a brief burning sensation and a moment of panic I resealed my mask clearing out the bad air. My eyes burned, my nose dripped mucous, I was breathing hard. I could feel the burning now on my neck and hands and I was particularly concerned almost panicky about the next part.

They rushed us over near the exit and shouted for us to remove our masks. Taking a deep breath I slipped my head out from the straps. I pounced on the first three lines of the 'Soldiers Creed,' the chant we say every morning. Gagging, I fought my way through lines 4 and 5. Up to line 7 I was okay and then they threw me out the door.

On hitting the daylight my first thought was that I couldn't breathe. I was breathing only in short little hiccups. Fighting back panic again I walked as calmly as I could, waiving my arms to air-ate my clothes. Then my eyes started burning. Ow. That was the worst part. The only way to clear my eyes was to open them... which stung.

Long story short, five minutes later I was alright. Now about 8 hours later I can still smell it just a touch and the back of my neck still burns. All in all, it wasn't as bad as I expected and I'd have no real hesitation to repeat the experience within the confines of a mission."

So there you have it. A day in the life of Private Gimbel.

3 comments:

Mike, Tia & Annabelle said...

Thanks for starting a blog Meridth! I'm so glad I can now peak at what you are up to. Leigh let me in on the link. Anyway, poor Edward! I once heard that grandpa Mckean 'encouraged' all of his sons to attend basic training. I'm not quite sure which ones avoided this necessary evil. As far as I know my Dad, Danny and David went (since they all had careers in the Army).
So glad we got to see each other last week.
Love ya
tia

Meridth Gimbel said...

I actually think that Uncle Bill was the only one who avoided it. Did you know that my parents pushed me into ROTC when I was a freshman? I squeezed out of it... it's just weird how military our family is.

redstarmama said...

Hey Mer! I'm so glad you started a "life" blog in addition to your art blog. A little Andrea-bird told me you and Edward might be making the move to Monterey. Do you know how close that is to my house?! About 30 minutes! I hope there's some truth to that rumor...

Take care,
Jenn