OkiLog #4: Fire on the Mountain

There are very few times in my life that I’ve experienced enough pain that I would carry the memory forever.  I’ve had mental, physical, and emotional trauma to be sure, but every once-in-a-while, I encounter a true soul-searing experience. This story is about one of those times, and happened a month or so ago on the side of Mt Fuji.

Oleoresin Capsicum is a nasty little substance that the military has added to their less-than-lethal arsenal.  The rule is that if you are going to carry it, you must have felt it’s effects, and proven that you can still “operate” while under it’s influence.  When I say “operate,” what I really mean is “flap my arms like a bird and pray for death.”

Some of those in my charge were going to be filling a billet that required them to be qualified with the substance, so they had to get trained.  I wasn’t going to make them do something I hadn’t also done, so ignoring the advice of some of my more-seasoned peers, I jumped in line.

I received a quick class in M.A.C.H. techniques, and I was on my way.  The first stop was a briefing by a sadistic young corporal.  His job was to actually spray me in the face with the stuff. He has a black heart and is the epitome of evil.  After he was done with me, he sent me with an observer-controller, whose job it was to gently shepherd me the rest of the way through the course.

I was made to do twenty military jumping jacks, then move on to apply a MACH technique to a guy in a foam suit.  By the time I began to track him down, the lava running down my face made it impossible to see, much less think.  I managed to apply a feeble impersonation of the move, then went on to execute some baton techniques.  After some questions to make sure I was still coherent, they led me to a “cool down” circle.  There was nothing cool about it.  I don’t have any video of myself walking the circle, but here is one I took of a few of my Marines.

I went into this whole thing knowing that this was an experience I’d talk about for years.  In my insatiable lust for new experiences, I may have gotten just a wee bit ahead of myself. I made sure that I had one of my guys record my trek through the course, and you can watch me here.



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2 Responses to OkiLog #4: Fire on the Mountain

  1. Jon, I marvel that you don’t have permanent eye damage! You seemed to be allergic to peppery substance as a child. You remember chopping some hot peppers (of some sort) once and you began burning–your hands and wrists–you burned and reddened up for over an hour or so.
    . . . . yep that was fire on the mountain, alright.

  2. Katie says:

    This was cool to see you in your element.

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