By SPC Chad Menegay
8/2/05, CAMP GRAYLING, MI An advance party of five soldiers in full Mission Oriented Protective Posture from the Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment of the 155th Chemical Battalion in Middletown, OH, treads over fallen trees and thriving ferns with M-16s at the ready deep in the woods of Camp Grayling, MI. A soldier at the rear affords protection by high stepping backwards, alternating glances from the ground to the horizon in order to maintain balance. The partys commander hand signals everyone to stop, while a Nuclear, Biological and Chemical specialist kneels to perform nerve agent detection. After the NBC-trained Soldier announces that the site is clear of contaminants, a young private first class is ordered to remove his gas mask to further test the environment. Ten minutes later the remaining soldiers also remove their masks in assurance that all is clear.
Commander of the HHD 155th Capt. Chem. BN, CPT David Mason Jr., then surveys the area to decide where he and his troops will set up the units Tactical Operational Center, Communications Section, Administrative Logistical Operations Center and sleeping areas for the units 10 day field training exercise.
To CPT Mason, the meticulous execution of this initial chemical detection activity is of extreme import and consequence. You dont put your soldiers in a contaminated environment, said CPT Mason. In todays world, a liquid chemical agent the size of a pin needle head can kill. We wont put our Soldiers in harms way, said CPT Mason.
HHD 155th Chem BN was established in October of 2003. When mobilized, the unit functions as a command and control headquarters, acting as a communication post for three chemical companies. Many of the units personnel are relatively new to their military jobs.
One such soldier is SPC Brijesh Amin, an NBC specialist from Mt. Vernon, OH, who attended his ten-week Advanced Individual Training in Ft. Leanard Wood, MO. He claims that his favorite part of that training was going through a live nerve agent chamber, where he was tasked to detect a nerve agent.
SPC Amin uses an M256 detection kit to test for nerve, blood and blister agents and Lewisite- a sulfuric corrosive.
The kits are very helpful and easy to use even with MOPP gear on, said SPC Amin. Youre not as agile, and you cant grip well with MOPP gear. Just breaking the capsules in the M256 detection kit is easy. Its very Soldier oriented, and this makes it that much less stressful.
SPC Amin believes hes chosen the best Military Occupational Specialty in the Army.
Ive always been into science and with this job I learn something new everyday, said SPC Amin. Another aspect that SPC Amin talks about with excessive pride entering an NBC environment first to make sure its safe for everyone.
You have the gear to protect you; I trust it, said SPC Amin.
Other than this chemical detection exercise, the HHD 155th Chem BN will also perform base cluster operations, perimeter security, Warrior Task Training and a focus on the military decision making process.
Annual Training at Camp Grayling 05 (Operation Ohio Thunder) was designed by Ohio National Guard leadership to simulate in-theatre operations. The focus of HHD 155th Chem BN is to live up to those standards, and its soldiers are carrying them out.