Marines from the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, embarked aboard the amphibious assault ship Iwo Jima, had the misfortune of becoming OC spray-certified this week — and the photos are tremendous.

Nothing parallels or prepares one for the trauma of being sprayed with oleoresin capsicum — affectionately known as OC spray.

You stand on line in front of instructors who each hold an aluminum canister, cracking jokes and boasting of herculean machismo, anything to distract from your imminent swan dive into Dante’s ninth circle of hell.

Arms at your side, eyes slammed shut, you inhale deeply before hearing the magic command.

“OC! OC! OC!” the gaggle of smirking instructors shout.

The spray finally ceases. “How many fingers am I holding up?” instructors often ask. The OC meanders its way around your orbital surface, your face, and into what feels like your soul.

Immediately, you’re thrust into action, performing a series of non-lethal takedowns and detainment exercises.

These are faces that scream, “I love what I’m doing right now!”

Before long, you’re questioning your entire existence. “Why did I join the Marine Corps? Why are my eyes made of lava? God has turned his back on me.”

Everything is on fire, like Satan himself is giving you a bath.

You eventually get hosed down, but the misery persists.

“Why isn’t this working?”

As the day wears on, you slowly regain a sense of peace, which of course lasts only until your next shower, when you realize remnants of OC were still calling your face home, and the seemingly comforting water spreads the devil’s nectar around your disheveled mug once more.


But you beat on, boats against the OC spray current. Salute these devils on joining perhaps the world’s most miserable club.

Jon Simkins is a writer and editor for Military Times, and a USMC veteran.

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