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Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton

New gas mask being phased in;

By Cpl. Kyle J. Walker | Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton | May 18, 2000

MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. -- More comfortable and easier to identify in a crowd -- those are among the benefits of a new gas mask being phased into I Marine Expeditionary Force.

I MEF's Equipment Surveillance Unit is conducting a product improvement plan intended to gradually replace the M-40 and M-42 gas masks with the M-40A1, an updated model that's more durable and user-friendly, officials say.

During this PIP, units with M-40 and M-42 masks will return them all, said GySgt. Stacey D. Jeambert, ESU. Those masks will then be tested for serviceability, and a small percentage will be retrofitted as the new M-40A1.

"We will go to a unit, test their Nuclear/Biological/Chemical warfare gear, and out of 1,000, we choose 80 masks," Jeambert said. "We will run each mask through a test."

Each mask is tested using the TDA-104, a machine that identifies leaks and other defects, Jeambert said. Defective masks are sent to Pine Bluff Arsenal, Ark., where they're repaired and retrofitted.

The updated mask contains many new features, he said.

It features a polycarbonate eye lens, which is much stronger than the old glass one, Jeambert said. A new nose cup is added for comfort and pliability.

"I wear these things all the time. Comfort and pliability are definitely key features of the new mask," he said.

Inside the mask, the drink-tube coupling is modified. It's less bulky and less prone to cracking or tearing. A laser-etched serial number is added, allowing Marines to identify their personal masks. "This will help Marines from getting or picking up the wrong mask," Jeambert said.

A detachable microphone will be added for ground support elements.

Vehicle crews will also have the mikes, along with a hose assembly, allowing forced air into the mask, according to Jeambert. Eventually, each command will turn in all M-40 and M-42 masks for retrofitting, he said.

Unserviceable masks are painted white and sent to different stations and bases to be used for other applications, Jeambert said.

"The overall benefits of the masks are the better fit and comfort," Jeambert said.

"The laser-etched serial number will also benefit our Marines."

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