Thursday, July 10, 2008

Socks, Urine, Complacency and Death

I vividly remember my Sr. Drill Sergeant telling a story just prior to my group entering the dreaded gas chamber during Basic Training. It was an unusually warm fact it was probably a balmy 50 degrees in Ft. Leonard Wood, Missouri. or as it is more affectionately and appropriately called, Ft. Lost in the Woods, Misery. We were still relatively new to Basic Training and life was still registering VERY high on the "Suck" scale. The story goes something like this...

"Today you will learn your first lesson about NBC Warfare (Nuclear, Biological and Chemical). Your life and the lives of those around you may very well one day hang in the balance of what you learn about NBC. For example, one lowly officer in WWI saved his entire platoon because he used his head and the limited Chemistry he learned in school. The Germans were killing soldiers by the hundreds and thousands with gas that had not been used before on the battlefield...chlorine. This officer, though he was only a 2Lt, though he was new to the battle and probably not qualified to be in charge of a pair of shoes, much less a platoon of battle-hardened soldiers, remembered that something he studied could render chlorine useless...uric acid.
Seeing the cloud of gas flowing across the field toward them, he quickly ordered his men to remove their socks and place them in a pile in the middle of their trench. He then ordered them all to piss on their the pile of socks. Once this unusual command had been carried out he ordered each soldier to pick two socks each. One was to be tied around their nose and the other was to be tied around their mouth. The men, facing certain death otherwise, did the very thing that seems horribly disgusting. Yet they lived. As they inhaled, the chlorine tainted air flowed through the urine-drenched socks and the urine made sure the air was essentially purified prior to entering their lungs.
Surprised that it worked and surprised that the Germans were apparently having a party in their trenches...certain that they would be attacked by anyone...especially the people they just gassed...the American soldiers quietly went across the field and slaughtered the German soldiers before the Germans could realize they were even under attack.
And so it will be with you men. If you learn how to fight in a chemical environment you will win the battle. If you do will die."

Needless to say, we all were attentive to NBC classes from then on. As disgusting as the urine soaked socks sound, if I thought for a minute that urine would have helped me in the gas chamber training I would have tried to stand on my head and piss in my own nostrils...anything to remove the gas that felt like lava flowing freely in my eyes, nose, sinuses and lungs.

There isn't a huge lesson for me to explain about this story...just a question. As the Army of God...the Army of God, against which the gates of Hell can't defend, are we more like the Germans or the Urine soaked Americans? Have we launched an ineffective attack and now rest and think our jobs have been completed? Have we been under attack yet seek for new ways to fight, live and thrive? Are we using a single weapon? Are we using anything we can think of...even disgusting things?

I don't know the answers for sure but I can't wait to discuss possible answers with you all. So what say you?

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