Chemical Warfare Drill Prepares, Improves Area Soldiers

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The screams seem so real, and the mission becomes so clear.

"Any kind of disaster, whether it's natural or a terrorist attack, it's good to know that the National Guard and all the armed services are here to help out," Sgt. Ben Frazier said.

Saturday, about 60 soldiers in the Machesney Park based 135th Chemical Company, secure in decontamination suits, took to action. A mock terrorist attack has a dozen students covered with saran gas, and these soldiers must clean and calm the frightened subjects.

"The entire time they just kept reassuring you no matter how much you screamed and cried and carried on, they still were very confident that you were going to be ok and everything was going to be taken care of," participant Amanda Seifert said.

Leaders of the 135th say the drill not only highlights the unit's strengths under fire, but also pinpoints the portions they can improve upon.

"National Guardsman aren't all from the local community, so it's a little more of a challenge, to coordinate getting them to the incident where they are able to perform the mission," 2nd Lt. Joe Bright said.

And in the end, the successful drill informed and improved not only the troops, but their young volunteer trainees.

"I think it's pretty good for the students. I learned a lot about the National Guard, so there's a lot of opportunities I think in it," participant Becca Ward said.

It’s a unique opportunity, a unique drill to train and prepare local soldiers for the ultimate worst case scenario.