Marines set to graduate from the Marine Corps Embassy Security Group school had the misfortune of becoming OC spray-certified last week — but managed to do so with a little creative flair.

A handful of devil dogs, who were crossing off the final item on their training checklists before the class’ May 12 graduation, took certification a step further by volunteering for a before-and-after portrait series depicting the impacts of oleoresin capsicum.

The images came out as one would expect.

Nothing quite prepares participants for the trauma of OC spray, a tool used in select training scenarios “to understand the psychological and physiological effects the chemical agent has on a person,” the MSG Duty Facebook account wrote in a post Sunday. “Could you manage to keep smiling through the pain?”

During the process, Marines awaiting the spray stand on line in front of instructors who each hold an aluminum canister. With arms resting at their sides and eyes sealed, Marines hear the dreaded command, “OC! OC! OC!”

“How many fingers am I holding up?” is a phrase that often follows. The sprayed are then thrust into action, ordered to perform a series of non-lethal takedowns and detainment exercises as every inch of what was once an untarnished cranium becomes engulfed in invisible flame.

Marines eventually get hosed down, but the misery, many times, persists, resurfacing even when lingering remnants wash away during a subsequent shower.

A terrible experience. We salute these Marines for not only getting through it, but doing so with a little motivation — false motivation is better than none at all — along the way.

Observation Post is the Military Times one-stop shop for all things off-duty. Stories may reflect author observations.

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

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