Guardsmen Train for Bosnia Trip

Article excerpt

FORT STEWART -- Some folks have to learn the hard way.

That's how it was for Spc. Marcus Jenkins.

During weekend training for a peacekeeping mission in Bosnia next year, the Fitzgerald guardsman had to confirm for himself that the Fort Stewart gas chamber really was filled with tear gas, known in the military as CS.

The young infantryman poked his head into the gas chamber without a mask. After a few seconds, he dashed away, arms outstretched in a classic Frankenstein pose to feel his way around. He squinted, stumbled, groaned and bumped into his laughing buddies as tears streamed down his right cheek.

In his disoriented and tormented state, meaningful discussion was out of the question. Amid his groans and other primordial sounds, all he managed to say was, "It hurts."

CS is not thought to cause permanent injury, only temporary discomfort.

Jenkins is a member of the Georgia Army National Guard's 2nd Battalion, 121st Infantry. Headquartered in Albany, the battalion has units scattered throughout southwest Georgia.

The battalion is a part of the 48th Infantry Brigade (Mechanized), which will send 1,200 soldiers to Bosnia next year. They will train for two months in the United States and then spend six months in the Balkan nation, enforcing a 1995 peace agreement that ended Europe's bloodiest conflict since World War II.

About half of the future peacekeepers spent the weekend at Fort Stewart, near Savannah, for training that focused on mandatory tasks, such as low-crawling across a battlefield, evacuating a wounded buddy, decontaminating themselves after a chemical attack and visiting the gas chamber to gain confidence in their protective equipment. …