How the CIA’s chemical weapons program came to be a secret arms race
I first encountered the word “chemicals” when I read about the use of toxic chemicals in the early years of the Vietnam War.
This was not news to me.
I had seen my share of propaganda in the military in the 1950s and ’60s.
I was also familiar with the stories of a few soldiers who were subjected to chemical warfare while on duty, a group I would later join in the war on terror.
But I was shocked to learn that I had been a part of a military program that went back over three decades to the earliest days of the Cold War.
A few weeks after the Vietnam war ended, I wrote a column for the Wall Street Journal in which I described what I had witnessed firsthand in a way that would become familiar to anyone who is familiar with military history.
I wrote: In my early days in the Army, as a sergeant, I had the honor of serving in a chemical warfare center at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, where chemical warfare units sprayed and sprayed and spraying.
As the war ended in 1975, the commander of the chemical warfare unit, Colonel Edward R. O’Neil, was replaced by Lieutenant Colonel Richard W. McPherson, a man of uncommonly good judgment, wisdom, and integrity.
Othniel E. Hahn, a member of my unit, recalls that, as an early member of the Chemical Warfare Unit, McPhehson had a clear vision and was well informed about the risks of using chemical agents, especially mustard gas.
He was not, however, overly concerned about the possible health consequences of the agents he was using.
He just believed in the benefits of chemical warfare.
He and his unit had the same philosophy about using chemicals as I had: If you see something, do something.
This attitude was reflected in the way the unit dealt with the use and storage of chemical agents and in its policy of not conducting any chemical testing.
Chemical warfare was a highly sensitive and highly dangerous discipline.
It required a very careful and highly trained mind to operate.
It was not something you could be a fool about.
I can’t imagine how you can do that in your first day on the job.
So much was at stake.
And the entire effort was driven by the same overriding concern for human life and health: Do you get what you ask for?
McPhee went on to be the first U.S. Army officer to become a top military chemical weapons commander, which is an honor that he received with a lifetime achievement award from the U.N. The day after I published my column, President Ford, Secretary of State Dean Rusk, and other top military officials visited North Carolina and visited the chemical weapons plant.
Mcphee was in the room with them.
He described his experience at the camp in the following words: I have a lot of memories that I want to share with you.
I remember, as the first member of our unit, that we were instructed by the commander, Colonel McPhey, to use the best possible means to achieve our mission.
We were told that if we could get a few more soldiers on board and use the most effective means to get the job done, we would have an insurmountable victory over the enemy.
In fact, this was the exact attitude that the commander took when he ordered his men to attack our target.
But in reality, that’s not how it went down.
The next morning, the chemical attack on our target had the effect of destroying our chemical weapons arsenal and killing many of our men.
By that point, Mcphey had been killed and the unit was severely damaged.
It’s important to understand what happened to the soldiers who had been on the target.
They were placed in the chemical storage tanks and told that they had to remain there, to be exposed to the chemicals that had been dropped.
This did not happen.
Instead, they were placed into a small plastic container that was later filled with water and used to wash their uniforms.
The soldiers had to wear the uniforms that were soaked with water, and they had no other clothes on.
When they went back to their own barracks to wash, they learned that they were soaked to the bone.
After washing, they had their hair cut.
The entire operation lasted about 10 minutes.
The men were ordered to return to their barracks, where they were subjected and exposed to a variety of chemicals, including mustard gas, napalm, and the nerve agent VX.
As McPhells own unit prepared to take the first of many chemical weapons strikes, McPathee asked the troops in his unit to go home to take care of the wounded and the wounded in the field.
The commander told the troops to leave, but they would be there to pick up the wounded when they returned.
McPathe would then order the first chemical weapons strike, which he called the “pilot” strike, on