Monday, December 28, 2009

The Fitness Plan (Pre-Basic Training) 99 Days until Basic

Decided I would try and use the week before the new year to come up with a work out plan to help get me in shape.
Running: Until it gets a little warmer out I will keep all running on the treadmill at the YMCA. I will also be playing basketball at least two times a week for a couple hours each, which will help with my cardio in general. I've always loved playing basketball. My view may be a little skewed because of this, but I think basketball is the perfect workout. I have a lot of fun playing and get a workout at the same time! 

When running the treadmill I’m going to do the 2 mile run and just keep on trying to improve my score. When I can score a 90% or better consistently I will increase the distance. Once it gets a little warmer and the snow is gone, I plan on moving to outside runs. This will better simulate what will be going on at basic training. 
Pushups: I have decided I will do three sets of 25 with a rest period in-between each set. Each week I will decrease the rest period between sets until I can do 75 in a row without stopping.
Today I tried a one minute rest in-between each set. 
Set 1: 25 Push-ups
Set 2: 25 Push-ups (I can feel the burn)
Set 3: 7 Push-ups (I guess I need more rest to start off with)
Sit-ups: I tried the same routine as the pushups described above.
Set 1: 25 Sit-ups
Set 2: 25 Sit-ups
Set 3: 15 Sit-ups
I made a fatal mistake doing the sit-ups tonight. I tried doing them on our rug with my pajamas on. I ended up getting rug burn on my ass and it hurts! (Actually near the tailbone). I will have to break out my work out pad from this point on...and until my butt heals, I will stick to crunches.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Army Physical Fitness (Pre-Basic Training) 102 Days until Basic

The army currently has what is called the Army Physical Fitness Test. A recruit needs at least 60 in each category to pass. To score 100% in each for my age group (32-36) I need the following:
2-Mile Run: 13:18
Push-ups: 75
Sit-ups: 76
I feel I’m in decent shape already for my age. I work out in the weight room twice a week and I play basketball twice a week. I did need to know where I was currently at on the charts, so I tested myself at the end of December, this would give me a baseline to start from. My scores were:
2-Mile Run: 22:30 = 16 points
Push-ups: 43 = 67 points
Sit-ups: 37 = 54 points
Obviously I need some work on my cardio. I used a treadmill and was unsure about the speed to select, so I just chose 5 miles per hour and half way through chose 5.5 miles per hour. I’ll definitely have to step this up a bit. I plan on switching to running on a track outside once all the snow clears.
Push-ups I have a passing score already, so I will just need to work on this a bit to bring it up to 100%.
Sit-ups are pretty the same as push-ups noted above, I just need to work on improving my score.
If all goes according to plan I will ship out for basic at the beginning of April, so I have a few months to help me get into "basic training" shape.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

MEPS Part II (Pre-Basic Training) 104 Days until Basic

Tuesday I met with the recruiter for the drive to Spokane to visit MEPS again. We left after work and ended up arriving at the Holiday Inn hotel pretty late (around 9:45 PM). My recruiter went over a couple of the security questions that he thought MEPS may be asking and then I crashed. The room was freezing when I arrived, and I had turned up the heat. About midnight I woke up very hot with the covers thrown off me. I had to get up and turn down the heat, and then I ended up tossing and turning the rest of the night until the 4:45 AM wake up call. I seem to never get a good night’s sleep at that hotel. After a quick shower I headed down for the breakfast buffet. After breakfast I had a little coffee and waited until the shuttle was ready to take all of us to MEPS in downtown Spokane. We arrived at about 6AM and had to wait outside again in the sub-freezing temperatures for about 5 to 10 minutes. Luckily I had my jacket and hat, but some of the recruits only had t-shirts. We were let in and slowly made our way through the bag check and metal detector.
The rest of the day was a lot of waiting. I would verify some paperwork, and then wait. Talk to the Army liaison and wait, had lunch and then waited. Next I had to get fingerprinted. This is all done digitally now and for some reason mine took forever. The fingerprint technician would scan a finger and wouldn’t be happy with it. He would then put some soap on my finger and then wipe it off… still no good. Alcohol wipes to the finger, clean the glass. This process went on for almost all my fingers. I guess my fingerprints have been worn down since I’m using a keyboard for the better part of the day and have been for my entire adult career. It sure wasn’t as easy as CSI makes it seem LOL. 

The next step was the security interview. The guy basically warned me of false enlistment, told me not to lie or else I would go to jail and lose all my pay (more of the scare tactics that my recruiter warned me about). He then went through pretty much all the questions I had already answered on my security form. It was a pretty painless process. I had envisioned a dark room with a spotlight on me and a table full of men in dark suits asking questions. Once this was over I sat and waited some more until three other recruits were ready to swear in. They brought the four of us into a room to watch a video warning us of desertion and going absent without leave (AWOL). Letting us know the punishments and so forth. We then all went into the ceremony room where a MEPS employee (a former navy man) taught us how to stand at attention and how to stand at ease. When the officer came in to swear us in we all stood at attention and then swore in repeating each sentence after the officer. Each of us then looked over our paperwork and biometrically signed using our fingerprint. Once this was done I received an Army backpack full of Army swag, then my recruiter and I took off for the long trek home. We finally left MEPS around 1:30PM

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Name Change (Pre-Basic Training) 105 Days until Basic

Unlike most males out there I have actually had my name changed… not once, but twice! When I was a teenager my stepfather hated when the school would call and ask for Mr. McGuire because his last name was different. Well my mom and stepfather thought it would be a good idea if I just changed my name to my stepfather's last name (we'll use "Smith" for the purposes of this blog).
Without any legal paperwork of any kind, they told the school that my last name was now "Smith". I ended up with a diploma with the last name of Smith even though my legal name was McGuire. I had gone by Smith so long that I ended up just legally changing my name through the courts. Turns out that a few years after high school my stepfather decided to be a total ass and left. After all that drama I didn’t want to keep that last name, so I went back to the courts and had my name changed back to my "maiden" name if you will. During the process though I changed my middle name the first time, but did not change it back the second time. This ended up giving me a legal name that did not match my birth certificate. 

This was also not even noticed until the day I was heading to MEPS the second time. The recruiter called freaking out “we need to have this taken care of today”. I called the courts to see if they had any records dating back that far and to find out if they could fax them to me. Turns out that everyone I needed to talk to was away from their desk. I ended up taking a break and going home to search for my old paperwork. Luckily I am somewhat of a pack-rat and I was able to find the 18-year-old documents. So I was able to fax them over to the recruiter and this obstacle was completed. Crisis averted!

Kid’s Documentation (Pre-Basic Training) 105 Days until Basic

I have been divorced now for a few years. I will not go into detail, but let’s just say I was blindsided and now my kids don’t live with me. I found I had to get original birth certificates and social security cards for each of my kids. During the move my ex-wife had lost or misplaced both. She had nothing for me. The recruiters said no problem, I could go to the local health department since they were all born in this state and I could order new ones. The recruiters then said I could go to the social security office and order new cards for them. Actually they said I don’t actually even need the cards, I only need a verification form from the social security office for each of the kids.
Sounded like a piece of cake…..
I ordered the birth certificates, which like the recruiter said was very easy. Just provide the required information and pay the fee. I have three kids (13, 11, & 9) and had to pay $20 each. A couple of days later and $60 poorer, I was ready to head off to the social security office. I arrived at the social security office with my ID and birth certificates in hand. I was met by an armed guard and was asked to sign in and get a number. An armed guard?? hmmmm I wondered why there was really a need for this. So after waiting patiently for about 10 minutes my number was called. I explained my situation and was told they could not give me replacement cards or even the verification paper that I needed. After a bit of arguing I was told that I needed picture ID of my kids, a doctor’s note showing their names and birthdays, or their official school records with signature. This really put a damper on my day. My ex-wife lives two hours away and I couldn’t count on her to get any of this done. I didn’t know how I was going to get any of the information I needed for this.
After a few days of stressing, I remembered that the kids all had passports from a trip to Mexico that their grandparents had taken them on. The next time I picked up the kids I got their passports as well. I headed to the Social Security office once again. This time with birth certificates, my ID, and my kid's passports in hand, I was able to order their social security cards and get the verification sheets for each of them that I needed.  It only took a couple of weeks, but now at least my kids will have social security cards and birth certificates.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Officer or Enlisted??? (Pre-Basic Training) 112 Days until Basic

After going to MEPS and talking with the recruiter on the long drive back I found out that it is possible for me to join as an officer. Previously I thought I was too old, but evidently since I have an associate’s degree I can join as an officer, I just have to get my bachelor’s degree before I become an O3. This brought up another dilemma. I did as much research as I could and found that if you go in as an officer, you do not get to choose the field that you will end up in. There is a dream sheet that you can choose 10 of your top fields. This seems a little silly because there are only 18 fields to choose from. I also found out that it is all based on how you do in the Officer Candidate School (OCS). From what I can tell, all the available jobs are posted and whomever does best in OCS gets to choose first and then the rest of the jobs get chosen down the line. I know joining as an officer has many benefits, but I didn’t want to end up doing something I have no interest in. The whole reason I decided to join was to get more experience working in the Information Technology field.
After much discussion with my wife, I ended up deciding to join as an enlisted soldier. Of course my wife was pushing towards being an officer, but I just kept having visions of me being an officer in charge of a bunch of cooks...not really what I have in mind for my time in the army! So we finally both agreed on going the enlisted route. Since I have an associate’s degree I will join as an E3. I still plan on getting my bachelor’s degree (one of the other reasons I am joining) and I will have my job guaranteed.

I have to say that if you are married, be sure to communicate effectively with your spouse. The decision to join the military doesn't affect just you, it is going to change everything in your life and family. You really have to be on the same page when joining or else your life is going to be filled with a lot of unneeded drama later on.

Friday, December 4, 2009

MEPS Part I - ASVAB & MEPS (Pre-Basic Training) 123 Days until Basic

After I decided I wanted to join the Army I had to schedule a time to take the ASVAB test and get my physical done at MEPS.

The ASVAB test (The Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery) This test is used to determine which jobs you qualify for in the Army.

MEPS (Military Entrance Processing Station) This is the site where the military determines an applicant's physical qualifications, aptitude and moral standards as set by each branch of military service, the Department of Defense, and federal law.

The plan was for the recruiters to take me out on a Thursday afternoon and drive to Spokane, which is about 3 hours away. Thursday night I would take the ASVAB test and then stay the night in a hotel. The next morning would be the physical at MEPS. If all went according to plan we would be back home by about 3 or 4 PM on Friday.

Like a lot of missions, this one didn’t go as planned. There were 4 of us all together, the recruiter who was driving us, a cop who wanted to join the reserves, another guy who was a year older than myself, and me. I arrived after lunch on Thursday at about 12:30. I patiently waited in the recruiter’s office while they got everything ready. This included a kind of pep talk or rehearsal. The recruiters went over everything that was going to happen at MEPS. He let us know that it’s the recruiter’s job to get people in the army and it’s MEPS job to disqualify people. He said they would use all kinds of scare tactics to try and get people to cough up all kinds of information. He said it is all scare tactics. He also let us know we would be taking a pee test and they will stand there and watch you do it.

The four of us assembled in the car and took off on our road trip. About an hour into the trip the recruiter said, “Now you all have your folders right?” I said “Um … you never gave me a folder!” Needless to say we ended up turning around and heading back to the recruiter’s office so he could get my folder, which had my social security card in it. Turns out you use this a lot at MEPS. This put us a few hours behind schedule and we ended up not being able to take the ASVAB test that evening. The recruiter had to call and have me and another guy reschedule for Friday morning.

We arrived at the hotel in Spokane and we were checked in and everyone was given a dinner and breakfast voucher. We were given strict orders not to have anyone else in our rooms and to behave. My guess is they have had issues before. They said our wake up call was set for 4:45 AM. Yuck! I was not looking forward to getting up that early, but as long as there was coffee in the morning I would be all right.

The three of us ended up eating dinner together. We got to choose from a special MEPS menu at the hotel restaurant. The food was pretty good and I even got ice cream fro dessert.

It was a little difficult to get to sleep with my mind racing non-stop thinking about what the next day was to bring. I did wake up at 3AM, 4AM, 4:30AM, then 4:45AM. Surprisingly the phone never rang with our wake-up call. Then there was a knock on the door. A hotel employee was at the door doing a manual wake-up notice because the phone system was having issues. So I jumped in the shower and got ready, waited for my roommate to get ready and then we headed down to the breakfast buffet at the hotel. After that we were loaded up with about 15 other recruits onto a shuttle to the MEPS offices in downtown Spokane.

Not sure if all MEPS offices are like this, but this one is located at a courthouse. We were offloaded from the shuttles and waited in the sub freezing cold for about ten minutes until someone finally unlocked the doors. Once in we had to go through a metal detector and have our bags scanned similar to security at the airport. Once through we all went to a room with offices for each of the branches of the service. Most of us were there for the Army, so we were herded like cattle to one corner of the room. We each had a name tag to stick on our bags and ourselves. Each of us had to fill out a lunch ticket (mmmm…turkey sandwich). Finally we grabbed our paperwork.

Next was the briefing room. All the recruits were told (just like the recruiter said earlier) that they are going to look up everything that ever happened to us. They are the federal government and have access to everything we have ever done in our lives. Nobody can stop them; so don’t lie on any of these forms. They will find out and you will go to jail and forfeit your pay. I was expecting all this, but then ironically they said, “We know what your recruiter told you, don’t believe them. We will find out everything” Luckily I wasn’t in much of a dilemma, since I haven’t had anything serious happen to me in the past. Honestly I haven’t been to the doctor since a sports physical to play basketball in high school. Everyone filled out some medical history questionnaires that mainly had yes or no answers. Any yes answers required an explanation at the bottom.

Next up...the ASVAB test. Myself and three of the other recruits were taken into a computer lab where we were given instructions and then proceeded to take the test. The test is broken into different sections and you have a time limit for each section. As long as you move along at a decent pace you should be able to finish each section in the allocated time. After that all Army recruits were required to take a personality test. I believe it was called the TAPAS test or something similar. It would provide you with two statements and you are supposed to pick which one represents you the best. Sometimes I think it shows two negative ones to see which one you don’t pick.

When all the testing was complete I was sent back to medical to complete my physical. I was aware that I would have to pee in a cup before all of this started so I made sure to not go before my ASVAB test. By now I had to go pretty bad and was relieved that I would not have to hold it any more. When I arrived at the medical desk the guy there told me I should eat my lunch and come back when I’m done because the “pee guy” was not there right now. Great, just what I did not want to do. I quickly ate my lunch, which was not too bad. (a pita sandwich with chips and a cookie). I did not end up drinking too much of anything though, just enough to wash down what I had just finished eating. I arrived back at the medical station and thankfully they were ready to accept my pee. I went into a room where a guy handed me a cup and then carefully watched me pee into it ¾ full. Luckily the room also had a urinal on the wall so I could finish off in there. I think I could have filled a dozen of those cups! They headed off with my cup of pee to test for various drugs and then took me into a room to draw my blood. This was done to check for certain types of diseases if I remember correctly.

Next step I had my eyes checked and my hearing tested. I’m slightly nearsighted and I’ve been to too many rock concerts as a kid, so I’ve lost some of my hearing. Luckily I evidently have enough hearing left to serve in the Army. To quote the hearing test administrator “It’s good enough for government work” I just have to make sure to wear protection if I head off to any more concerts. I then had a one on one talk with a doctor. The doctor quickly went over all my answers from the medical questionnaire I took at the beginning of the day. All were no except broken or cracked bones. I then had to explain how I broke my nose and right pinky finger during two separate basketball incidents. Oh and yes I did smoke pot when I was young and dumb. It was 20 years ago and I only tried it a few times.

Next up the physical exam. There were four of us together this time. All the people that ended up taking the ASVAB with me earlier in the day. We all had to strip down to our boxers and perform a number of movements, bends, twists, funny walks, etc. The doctor had a good look at us while we were doing all of this and then took us into a room individually. In the room I had to drop my drawers and let him feel my balls while I coughed. Then came an interesting moment… I had to bend over and spread my butt cheeks. The doctor crouched down took a visual and said, “it all looks normal” Luckily I didn’t fart!

When this was finished I got dressed and waited for my recruiter to come back and get me and my fellow recruits to head back home. A long day has been finished, and I’m one step closer to joining the Army.


hello how did you make this blog like this? im going to Benning may 31 and i would like to make one like yours. any link on how to create one like your? thanks

Friday, April 1, 2011 - 11:08 PM


When I decided to do this I purchased the domain name "" from GoDaddy. I already had a mobileme membership which gave me a place to host the website. My Mac came with iLife which has a program called iWeb that makes creating and maintaining a website very easy. I set it up and then wrote letters to my wife every day from basic, when she received the letters she would type them up and post them. By the time I got to AIT I was able to have a laptop with internet access and I updated it from that point on.

If you check out my "Other's Stories" on my main website, you can see a lot of them use BlogSpot to create their blogs. You can check it out at It's free and if you have someone you trust back at home you can have them log in and post your updates.

Saturday, April 2, 2011 - 12:08 AM


thanks buddy, heres my blog> please tell me what you think. thanks man

Saturday, April 2, 2011 - 03:09 AM


The site looks great...good job! Congratulations on not giving up and good luck with your army career. Keep that attitude of not giving up while in basic, it will serve you well.

Saturday, April 2, 2011 - 09:15 AM


thanks man, i really want this, i want to be able to call myself an us soldier.

Saturday, April 2, 2011 - 10:49 AM