Eglin AFB’s Chemical Warfare Test Laboratory is expanding, named after the late Master Sgt.

EGLIN AFB, Fla. (WKRG) – Eglin Air Force Base honored retired Master Sgt. and former project manager by making his second home at the dynamic entry and exit test module test center his namesake.

The DEETM lab is crucial to bolstering military readiness by testing shelters and equipment used by all US forces against chemical warfare agents. The center is named after Scott A. Matheson, who died suddenly in February 2021. A longtime employee and crew member of the DEETM lab shared his legacy and mission with WKRG News 5.

“It’s not directly related to the temperature,” 1st Lt. Andrew Denicola said. “It’s more about testing whether or not it protects an austere environment if there were chemical releases. If there was a chemical attack like a steam chemical attack, it’s just to see if it would protect against that chemical attack.

What started as a small test room at the back of the building grew into a 50x50x50 test room, equipped with several labs. Denicola said the building is one of the largest in the Department of Defense and once the full building additions are completed, it will be the only one of its kind in DOD.

New project manager John Terry said the department itself wouldn’t have gotten this far without Matheson’s vision.

“It was 2×4s and plastic, with a little hot plate and thanks to Scott’s work, it became this bedroom,” Terry said. “That’s all Scott Mathieson does. He was very good at dealing with anyone, as I said, from the lowest airman to the highest ranking general. He was passionate about what we were doing and why we were doing it. And what it offers to the men and women there that we protect them. God forbid we ever need it. We protect them if they are attacked by chemical or biological agents. He was passionate.

Matheson assembled his own team of contractors and military personnel to build the department. Terry joined in 2006 and said he had big shoes to fill as a replacement for Matheson.

“It’s Scott, everyone was his family. From his immediate family, to his extended family, to his military family and his work family, and he handled it that way,” Terry said. Nothing was more important than family, and that family extended to every Airman, Marine, Sailor, Soldier out there. Everyone was family, and that’s what he served.

Both Denicola and Terry said that this testing and work is needed more than ever. The testing program completes eight to ten projects each year. Ahead, test teams will make men in challenging experiments.

“Which will involve taking people who are wearing chemo-bio protective suits,” Denicola said. “We’re going to put a bunch of sensors on them everywhere to map the body. They will come here, they will do an operationally relevant exercise, they will be exposed to our stimulating chemicals. They’ll go ahead and get out, then take off their chemo-bio gear, and then we’ll take some measurements of it and see what the different levels of exposure were.

“So our world is unfortunately getting busier and busier,” Terry said. “With what’s happening in Ukraine and everywhere else, there’s no more need than there is right now, so we’re getting busier and busier and busier.”

Read more on Agile Combat Support and Matheson’s Legacy Online.