Every week during my three years in Cold War West Germany,
the Tankers of 1-70th Armor had a MOPP drill. Gene Pierce, Abel Lopez and Don Spears
are in the motor pool celebrating MOPP Level 1.
With Russian Nerve Agent VX in the news, I remembered donning a mask and occasionally putting on full protective gear every week when I was stationed in Wiesbaden in Cold War, West Germany in the late 70s. An alarm would sound and we would mask wherever we were and continue to work.
Most days, if we were on post we were in the motor pool. If we were tightening end-connector bolts or checking ammo racks, we masked and continued with the task in hand. I had taught classes, including Chemical, Biological, Radiation classes when the alarm sounded and had the odd experience of seeing a room full of men stand and mask, then resume their seat. It is difficult to be understood wearing a mask, so I dismissed the class.
It really sucked for those who had been waiting for food in the huge consolidated mess chow line then were not able to eat it.
We did not often go to full MOPP gear (Military Oriented Protective Posture) because they were controlled items and had to be signed for. Of course, when the drill was going to be full MOPP we knew it because it had to be issued in advance and carried everywhere: charcoal-lined suit, boots, gloves, everything.
The Soviets had millions of pounds of VX gas they manufactured before they had a nuclear bomb and kept making for years after. I wrote about the leader of the VX program in the Soviet Union recently, a man named Boris Libman who shows just how bad life can be for a hero of the Soviet Union.
With Soviet nerve gas back in the news, the Cold War is back in our lives.