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nce upon a long time ago, I was a Series Gunnery Sergeant at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, SC. At the beginning of one of my series I was given a brand new First Lieutenant and told by the Company Chief Drill Instructor to care for him and make him a good lieutenant. As a good Marine Staff Non-commissioned Officer, I took this to heart, and did my best to comply with the CDI's instructions.

As the series progressed, all went well and I was able to share with my lieutenant many of the ways of the drill field. Come the third phase, I felt I had done a commendable job and perhaps over done it. This thought crossed my mind when we went to the gas chamber. The NBC Marines enjoyed themselves when I brought a series to them as they got to expend a good bit of CS. If it's worth doing, do it right. Knowing how some of the Drill Instructors may, from time to time, take the removal of the gas masks a little too serious, and thinking my lieutenant need not be exposed to this, I suggested to him that I go in the chamber, and he could supervise the recruits as they came out. To this he said, "I'll have to over rule you on this, Gunny, ... get me a mask,... I'm going in." "Very good, Sir," I replied. Thinking that the authority of the "Guns" had been usurped, when I got him his mask, I removed the filters. We both entered the chamber, and given the over load of CS, it took all of 30 seconds for the effect of a mask with no filters to kick in. Seeing the lieutenant's reaction, it came to me that perhaps I'd gone a little over board. Thinking on my feet, the closest recruit lost his mask and I yelled to the lieutenant that he should take this kid outside. He quite eagerly complied.

Waiting a minute or so, I told one of the Seniors to take over and left to check out the lieutenant. As I got outside, I asked one of the Drill Instructors where the lieutenant was, and was told he was behind the chamber. As I got to the back of the Quonset hut, I find my lieutenant coughing and rubbing his eyes. Before going to his aid, I replaced the filters in his mask, which was lying on the ground. I had taken two canteens of water with me and got him to keep his hands away from his face so I could flush his eyes out and get him to stand into a small breeze we had at the time. As he regained his composure he said, "Damn, Gunny, something was wrong with that mask." I asked him if he got it on right and seated like it should have been. He told me of course he did, and he knew how to do that. We had one of the NBC NCO's check the mask, and he found nothing wrong with it. The lieutenant couldn't figure this out.

Our series continued through its training, and graduated. Within a week or so, I picked up another series with a lieutenant who had been a Series Commander for several series. A year later my "new" lieutenant and I had the opportunity to work together once again. At the completion of this series, as tradition has it, we had our out post party, and after several beers I brought up the infamous gas chamber incident. He remembered it quite clearly and when I told him what I'd done, he came up with some words I wasn't aware officers and gentlemen knew. After the initial explosion, I think we both laughed hard enough to get as many tears in our eyes as we did the day at the gas chamber.

Semper Fi!

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