Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Signal Corps Song (AIT - Fort Gordon) Day 12

These entries have been sent via email from Brandon. (Yay!)
Today started off and I was finally able to do PT duty to get in my way. I feel like I've been doing nothing since I've been here. The PT here at AIT is very similar to basic when we do the normal session like today. There is a lot of stretching and aerobic type workouts. Barely enough to break a sweat. At the end we did push-up and sit-up drills, one minute of each and then 45 seconds of each switching with a partner.

I woke up in a better mood today. Yesterday I was just pissed off at the world it seemed. Everyone was making me mad. Usually I let everything just roll off my shoulders, but not yesterday.

We headed out to school formation and were questioned on the way out by a sergeant making sure we didn't have any electronic devices. There has been a problem lately with people breaking the rules and taking their phones and such to the school building. I don't know why they would because we don't actually have any time to use them. It wasn't an actual search like yesterday, just an integrity check.

As with everyday in class we start off by saying The Soldier's Creed, The Army Song, and then The Signal Corps Song. Everyone knows the first two, but the last one has been an interesting learning process. Our class is so bad at singing it, we have actually had NCOs walking by stop and poke their head in our class while we're singing it with a look of shock. In case you're wondering it sounds like a song from a Disney movie or maybe a carnival. Here are the lyrics:

The Signal Song
From flag and torch in the civil war,
To signal satellites afar.
We give our Army the voice to give command
On battlefield or global span.
In combat we're always in the fight,
We speed the message day or night.
Technicians too, ever skillful, ever watchful,
We're the Army Signal Corps

Class was done by another instructor today and was a bit more hands on. We took apart a computer and identified the parts. Pretty basic stuff. We then went over binary, hexadecimal, and decimal conversions. Kind of a peep into what we'll be doing in our next class, Cisco's CCNA 1. We were also given time to catch up on all our quizzes, so I don't have any A+ homework tonight. I just have to see if I can get started on our SkillPoint learning (which is an online learning site with a number of things we have to finish before week 12. It includes a lot of the security + information)

I don't like that we are not allowed in our (barracks) rooms from the start of school until the night formation at 18:00. It's freakin' hot here, so I plan my lunch and dinner accordingly and take my sweet time. I eat in the air conditioned DFAC and always make sure to get ice cream too. One of the small things that make me happy here.

After night formation I asked the sergeant how I would go about getting another green blanket. When I walked up to him he said "What's up pops?" LOL One of the private leaders happened to be there and he said he would help me out. We had to have the girls get one for me because they keep them all on their side of the barracks. Problem solved, I now have the blanket I need. I think I may keep sleeping in my winter PTs on top of my bed though. That was a comfortable night's sleep and I don't have to make the bed when I get up!

Going to study a little and then video chat with my wife tonight. Life is better now.

Overheard Quote: "You can't wear those tight jeans with your fat rolls hanging out" (The sergeant going over the dress code for soldiers when they get to wear civilian clothes)

The Wife
I just heard how The Signal Song is sung from You Tube. You're right, love, it's very disney like. I can only imagine how bad it you all sound... LOL.
Friday, July 2, 2010 - 06:54 PM

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Case of the Missing Blanket (AIT - Fort Gordon) Day 11

These entries have been sent via email from Brandon. (Yay!)
I think I'm starting to get a little tired of living with a bunch of other people. People are constantly coming and going in our room. The door is squeaky and very annoying. Sometimes they only come halfway and start yelling down the hall. Sometimes they just open the door and have conversations with people across the room. It's tolerable during normal hours, but after lights out it gets very annoying.

I was woken up at 3:59 for my 4:00 CQ shift. They are supposed to wake the person up a half hour before their shift so they can get ready. I had to jump out of bed and throw on my ACUs. I knew I would have time to shave and get ready afterwards because this shift does not do PT. So I quickly went down stairs and sat for 2 hours at the CQ desk with 3 other people (they have 2 girls and 2 guys doing it). When it was over we headed over for breakfast and then I came back up to my room to find my blanket from my bed missing. WTF?? At first I thought someone stole it, then I realized a sergeant had been going through all the rooms. Now I'm guessing he took it because it wasn't made. I figured it was more important to get to my shift on time. I guess not.

School today was normal, we go through a lot of information. This A+ class is usually an entire quarter at a regular college, but we are going through it in 9 days. For me it's actually just a refresher course, but there are some I feel bad for since they have barely touched a computer in their lives.

The DFAC has been extremely crowded lately. There are a crap load of kids all dressed up in BDUs here for the Civil Air Patrol. They are here for a week. I think they have more military discipline than most of the people here! Their formations are good and their manners in the DFAC are excellent. Not sure exactly what the Civil Air Patrol is, I'll have to check into that.

I'm starting to hate everyone here. Not a good mental state to be in, but everyone just seems to be frustrating me right now. I went down for the 3rd time to try and find a sergeant and each time the place was either crowded or there was no sergeant to be found. I'm giving up tonight, I'll just sleep in my winter PTs. Maybe I'll buy a throw later and just put it in my locker each morning, it would be more comfortable than these stupid green wool blankets anyway. I could also order one online and have it shipped here, that would be funny.

Overheard Quote: "Good Gawd...I think the sergeant just crop dusted me" (PFC Metal in formation after he caught wind of a nasty smell when one of our sergeants walked by)

Monday, June 28, 2010

A Full Sunday (AIT - Fort Gordon) Day 10

These entries have been sent via email from Brandon. (Yay!)
It's now been an actual full week since I arrived and stayed here at Ft. Gordon. I guess you could say some of my expectations were met (being able to use a cell phone and laptop every night) and others were not (no communication).

I woke up about 6:30 to get ready for breakfast which I thought was at 7:00, but the DFAC didn't open until 7:30 on Sundays...D'oh! So me and PFC Metal hung out in front of the DFAC for a few extra minutes before getting a bite to eat. I had thrown my laundry in the washer before breakfast, so afterwards I went up and moved it to the dryer. It's not a good thing to leave your laundry in the washer or dryer for too long, you never know what will happen to it. That is why I was a little upset to find out in our morning formation that I was volunteered to do duty at brigade. 10 of us went over there and cleaned from about 8:45 to 9:30. We finished everything (sweep, mop, clean everything metal, and wipe down the baseboards). After that we just had to sit in a room until about 11:15. The sergeant said we could watch TV, but there was no TV in the room LOL. So after that we were allowed to leave back to our company area. I wanted to get over there as soon as possible because I wanted to check on my clothes in the dryer. Right before we were out of there the sergeant said we needed to prop the women's rest room door open. A guy went to get a couple of buckets and when he came back he was waiting for a guy in front of him to move so he could place the buckets in front of the door. I tapped the guy on the shoulder and said "watch out buddy"....turns out that guy I tapped was the sergeant! I was behind him and he looked just like one of the privates in our group. Luckily he didn't say anything, I thought for sure I was going to be doing some push-ups. All the other guys were laughing and couldn't believe that just happened.

So back at our barracks my dryer had been turned off at some point...the clothes were not dry grrrrrrrr. So I started it up again and went to my room for a bit before heading to lunch. For the most part the weekends are pretty relaxed. After the morning formation and detail that we are assigned we have the rest of the day off. 

I was able to video chat with my mom, my nieces and my wife later in the afternoon. After getting off the video chat I was a little overwhelmed by how long I have to be here before I'll be able to see any of them. It can get depressing when I think I have 19 weeks before I will be able to see my family again. I can't wait to get out of AIT and get in the regular army so I'll be able to see my wife each night at least. I can't imagine getting deployed right after AIT, that would be super tough. All this was a little easier on paper when I was planning it all out with my wife. In reality it can be heartbreaking at times. Especially when I know she needs me back at home and I'm stuck here in AIT with a bunch of clowns.

Watched a documentary on Netflix. That is about the only video I can watch here with the wireless network. All the other TV websites have issues because the bandwidth here gets choked up with all the people playing World of Warcraft all the time. Every once in a while the Netflix movie will pause and buffer, but nothing like any of the other websites I've tried. Hulu did good for about 1/2 of the show and then it just stopped. That is frustrating.

The evening formation was just an attendance call. Last Sunday the sergeant walked through the ranks and during attendance he checked each person's hair cut and facial hair. I shaved this time right before formation just to make sure I was good to go...and no check at all this time. I did find out after dinner that we can change into our PT uniform right after we are dismissed from detail in the morning. That would have been good to know earlier, but I guess it's better to know now than 5 weeks from now. Like everything else here the communication sucks. The best way to find out stuff is to ask others who have been here a while.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Loose Formation (AIT - Fort Gordon) Day 9

These entries have been sent via email from Brandon. (Yay!)
Slept in today until 7:00AM when all the new people were woke up to go to a financial brief that we were just informed about. We heard it takes the better part of the day. So I got up and got ready. Formation for this was at 7:45 and everyone except most of the girls were there...nobody woke them up...LOL!

I found out a guy from Ft. Benning who sleeps above PFC Metal fell off his bed in the middle of the night last night. It's a pretty long fall and it's a very hard floor. PFC Metal said it woke him up and he even had headphones in playing music. Luckily he wasn't seriously hurt, just a little sore.

We were marched to the classroom and waited...and waited. I guess nobody told the briefers that they were supposed to to be there briefing. So we were eventually all marched back to the company area where we joined the main formation. I've said this before, but let me say it again...the formations here suck! The soldiers wander into the formations well past the time they are supposed to. I can see why though, the sergeants are never there on time. The sergeants always end up in front of the formation anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes after the formation is supposed to be ready to go.

Each squad in the morning formation was given a task to clean up around the company area. My squad had to walk around and pick up any trash we saw. We did this for an hour or so and by then everyone was done with all the tasks. We were released until 18:00. So me and PFC Metal ate lunch and then headed to the PX to get some supplies. After that it was just a lazy day. I got caught up to date with Facebook LOL and also watched a documentary through my Netflix account. I love Netflix!! It really works out great now that I'm away because I can now watch movies on my laptop for a little entertainment.

After dinner we made it to the 16:00 formation. Same as before people were all over the board. There are wrestling matches while we are in formation. People in the barracks hanging out their windows talking with people in formation. One guy was even playing street fighter with a wireless controller looking through the window to the day room TV. We waited only until 16:10 this time until the sergeant came out and did roll call. People are talking during roll call, people are answering in funny voices making it hard for the sergeant to know if they even answered or not. It's frustrating for me and I'm not even the one doing the roll call. We were then released for the night. 

There is a phase system here kind of like basic. Here it is an individual process. You start out as a phase IV. You can move up to phase V if you pass your PT test, memorize The Soldier's Creed, The Army Song, The Signal Song, have a locker and class A inspection. When you are phase V you can wear civilian clothes after hours and on weekends. You also don't have to come to a lot of the formations on the weekends which would be nice. Phase V soldiers can also go off base. Phase V+ soldiers get even more benefits and can even live off base. It really isn't a huge priority to phase up for me. I don't have anyone to visit outside of the base. The nice thing would be wearing shorts and a t-shirt on the weekends in this heat.

Overheard Quote: "Why are you in that damn fucking shit?" (The sergeant taking roll during the last formation saw a guy in his PT uniform instead of ACUs like everyone else. The funny thing is that he didn't get into any trouble. No push-ups....nothing, just the comment)

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Feeling Hot Hot Hot (AIT - Fort Gordon) Day 8

These entries have been sent via email from Brandon. (Yay!)
This morning I had hall guard from 4:00 AM to 6:00 AM, so I was unable to go to morning PT. I had it with PVT Privately (an old 3rd platoon terminator who is a pretty cool guy). I was happy to get out of PT, but I was all mentally prepared for it. The duty schedule was changed since I last looked at it, so I thought I had it in a couple of days...not this morning. The good thing about this time slot was that we were able to head to breakfast before the rush of people getting done with PT. We had no line and it was easy to find a seat.

Speaking of chow let me tell you that the eating at the DFAC here at Ft. Gordon is much better than the one at Ft. Benning. The quality of food is better and they have a bit more of a variety. They have a salad, soup, and a sandwich bar. My favorite is that they also have a soft serve ice cream machine. They switch out the flavors daily. I want to just open my mouth and let the ice cream flow in, but I limit myself to one cone a day at lunch time.

After lunch we came back and found out that our barracks were closed because there were inspections going on. This sucked because it's freaking hot here in Georgia! It's even more hot when you have on ACUs and have to stay outside where there is no A/C. We had to wait until formation for classes again before we could get out of the sun. By the time we got in class I think everyone could have used a towel just to dry the sweat off that was pouring out of everyone.

Overheard Quote: "I'm sweating like a slave with a secret" (PVT Privately - a black man - stated this as we were marching back to our classroom...I had to agree)

Friday, June 25, 2010

The Dark Side (AIT - Fort Gordon) Day 7

These entries have been sent via email from Brandon. (Yay!)
Today we had class again. I think the daily schedule will be the same now that I'm in school. We will wake up at 4:00 AM for morning PT, then formation for school is at 7:45AM. School is from about 8:30 to 4:30 with a break for lunch. We then clean up the classroom and the hallways before formation to march back for dinner. After dinner we are free until 21:30 which is lights out. There is also a study hall that we can go to from 18:00 to 20:00. It's not mandatory for the A+ class, but it is for the next two classes.

At the beginning of class PVT Metal gave me some "candy". I popped it in mouth and was in for a wasn't candy at all, it was a caffeine pill. It also didn't taste too hot. I quickly grabbed my water and swallowed it all down. I didn't have any problems falling asleep in class today unlike another guy in our class who fell asleep. Not only did he fall asleep, he did it with the hose to his camelbak in his mouth. The teacher stopped the class looked at the guy and said "really!" The guy had to stand up for the rest of class. The classes are long and they go at a fast pace, so you really have to pay attention. There is a lot of homework and quizzes as well that you can do on your own time in the barracks, so it pays to have a laptop (which I decided to purchase while I'm here).

Not much else happened until the evening. PVT Metal was taking a shower which is down the hall and someone stole his towel while he was in the shower. As he was running down the hall naked, a sergeant appeared and yelled at him asking him where his towel was. PVT Metal said it was stolen, but the sergeant didn't care, he just told him he better go back and find one. So PVT Metal had to run back down to the showers and have someone come to our room to get him another towel. LOL pretty funny!

Overheard Quote "Touche my good man" (Our instructor after he explained that the main difference between Windows Vista and Windows 7 was that Windows 7 was made more stable and easier for the end user to operate. To that I said "Yeah....I heard they tried to make it more Mac-like)

Thursday, June 24, 2010

First Day of Class (AIT - Fort Gordon) Day 6

These entries have been sent via email from Brandon. (Yay!)
Wake up was at 3:30 AM this morning. We had our first PT test. It was only a diagnostic, but still very important to pass at the regular army standards. In basic you only have to score at least a 50 in each event. AIT & regular army you have to score at least a 60. Also if you pass the diagnostic and end up getting hurt later on, you can get a waiver for the final test because you've shown you can pass the test already. I did pass, but not with flying colors. (they don't post your score like they did in basic). I guess a combo of doing nothing since we slowed down in basic, eating a bunch of crap, and not hydrating enough the day before all took their toll on me.

After we finished showering none of the new people really knew where to go. The communication here really sucks. It makes being here very frustrating. We finally found out that a lot of us (including me) had our first day of class today.

So those of us who were starting class were told to line up with the school formation. We lined up and were marched to Dixon Hall where all the classes are held. We all filed into the building, but none of the new people knew where to go. We just kind of wandered around and then went back out to the front of the building. Back out front there was a sergeant calling out names of the new soldiers...hey we found the right place to be! Once our names were called we got in line and marched to a classroom.

My first class is A+. This will be going over the basics of computer hardware and will touch on the Windows OS. The class day was for the most part orientation. Class in a military environment is much different than in the civilian world. Before we enter class everyone stands in line at parade rest. When walking the halls everyone walks on the right side and there is absolutely no talking. The funniest one of all is that all the new soldiers (MOS-I) have to be escorted by MOS-T soldiers (soldiers who have been in the army and are now at AIT to switch their MOS - (jobs) ). Today we had a 22 year old sergeant escort 2 36 year olds and one 26 year old to the bathroom LOL. MOS-Ts are treated much better at AIT. They have their own barracks and can come and go as they please. They even have their own break area at the school. 

When we were out for the day I accidentally got in the Bravo company formation to march back....D'oh! No big deal though, I ended up getting in the chow hall a little earlier than everyone else.

After chow me and PVT Metal along with 6 others were "voluntold" (that's when you don't volunteer for a task, but you are told to do it). We had to clean up the brigade headquarters for a couple of hours. Scrubbed some baseboards, mopped some floors and waxed some floors.

I met a guy from Hawaii via Seattle today. He had a rough time in basic. He's 36 as well and ended up with stress fractures in both feet, a dislocated shoulder and something else to his wrist. Sounds like his basic was pretty brutal on him. He seems like a pretty cool guy.

Overheard Quote: "They can talk about us, but they can't talk without us" (our instructor said this about the rest of the army talking about the signal corps) .... I know I's hard to get good quotes now without the drill sergeants running around and scared privates doing stupid stuff.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

First Guard Shift (AIT - Fort Gordon) Day 5

These entries have been sent via email from Brandon. (Yay!)
This morning we got up at 4:00 AM...only problem was that I was up already for 2 hours. They don't have "fire guard" shifts here at Charlie Company, they have "hall guard" and of course CQ duty as well. Their shifts are 2 hour shifts instead of 1 like we had at basic. They have a lot of people doing side jobs for shifts here too, but the going rate is a bit steeper than back at Ft. Benning. They charge $20 before midnight & $35 after midnight! So I had to "guard" our hallway for two hours LOL. We also had a list of cleaning duties that had to be done as well, but we knocked those out in 1/2 hour.

I don't think I mentioned much about our rooms. They can hold up to 12 people. Ours currently has 8. The guys in here weren't too excited when all the new guys came because we doubled their population in this room. There is me, PFC Metal, a guy from 2nd platoon & one from 4th platoon all from Ft. Benning in this room.

We had more briefs from commanders and others after breakfast. Basically saying the same thing... stay focused and don't get into trouble. We then went to get our equipment from CIF. At Ft. Benning this process took the better part of the day and we left with a duffle bag and a ruck full of stuff. At Ft. Gordon it took only a few minutes because I already had a camelbak and a laundry bag, they only issued me wet weather gear (aka a raincoat).

We had lunch and a little down time. I was able to say hi to my wife (on the cell) and also make a quick stop at the PX to pick up some pain reliever. I had a major headache so this was awesome!! One of those little things you take for granted until you are at basic and not allowed to have any drugs unless prescribed...yes they would even prescribe Tylenol to people, but it's a pain in the butt because you have to go to sick call and spend half the day there.

So there are a number of freedoms and conveniences that are nice to have here at AIT compared to basic, but I think I miss the organization and the sense of being part of a team that we had while in basic.

Later on in the day everyone went to the dentist for a checkup. I got an "OK" (All dental work has to be finished before you can less thing to worry about)

Overheard Quote: "Chuck Norris doesn't tea bag... he potato sacks" (a private in formation talking to the guy next to me)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Classroom Orientation Overload! (AIT - Fort Gordon) Day 4

I finally have access to my computer for a few days, so I thought I would give my wife a break and add some updates myself. Until she gets back home and receives some of my previous posts there may be a few days missing
Today we woke up and got ready for formation at 4:00 AM. The formations here are a joke compared to Ft. Benning. Everyone is moving around and even sitting down. The formations also just drag on and on....everyone just kind of hangs out until finally a sergeant comes out. We ended up in the one this morning for about an hour and a half. During this time someone pulled the 3rd floor fire alarm in our building, so the NCOs were trying to investigate to see why that happened.

All the new people headed out to breakfast finally. I tell you it is strange having women in our formation. At Ft. Benning there were no women. You can tell a lot of the guys change their behaviors and both the men and women flirt...even the sergeants are softer with women in the mix.

After breakfast we headed to a big classroom where all the new people met up from all the companies for an orientation. I ran into a lot of the guys from Bravo company at Ft. Benning. We then had a marathon of different people going over all kinds of stuff. We had people talk to us about health, dental, not being stupid (aka drinking and partying...especially if under age), staying focused, security (secret clearance stuff), finance and everyone's favorite...STDs. I guess they have a problem with that here LOL. They used the same scare tactics I remember having back in driver's ed to teach about the dangers of STDs. Lots of gross pictures to give everyone the shock and awe of what could happen if you get one. Like in driver's ed when they show all the photos of car wrecks and messed up people, but this was all pictures of penis and vaginas...all looking very disgusting (right before lunch...thanks a lot) After lunch we headed back for more...oh so much fun.

We went to dinner and then back to our company area where we were released for the night. Still not too excited about Ft. Gordon so far, but at least we can use our phones and a number of other privileges we never had such as eating and drinking whatever we want :)

Random Quote: "That used to be an anus" (The instructor for STDs after showing everyone a pretty gross picture of genital warts gone wild on a person's anus)

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Real Arrival (AIT - Fort Gordon) Day 3

The Charlie Company Logo

I finally have access to my computer for a few days, so I thought I would give my wife a break and add some updates myself. Until she gets back home and receives some of my previous posts there may be a few days missing
Yesterday I didn't even blog...just relaxed and enjoyed the day with my wife. Today I spent every last minute with her that I could. She dropped me off at my new company. Watching her leave was tough. She was pretty emotional because we will not be seeing each other for who knows how long and also because while she was here with me she found out her grandpa died. After she left me alone with this new company I wonder why the hell did I join the army. I hated leaving her. I was able to video chat with my kids, but I hate not being able to see them in person.

Ft. Gordon is so unorganized. Nobody seems to know what's going on. All the new guys just kind of wander around with lost looks on their faces. We had formation at 16:00 and it's nothing like Ft. Benning. Everyone here is pretty lax. I guess on Sundays they do a shave check at the formation, the sergeant couldn't believe that I shaved this morning. I'll have to remember to shave twice on Sundays...that sucks. 

I unloaded my bags into my locker. I'm still going to have to do some more organizing to get it in order, but all my stuff is out of the bags.

We have orientation tomorrow all day. I know I'll get into the swing of things, but right now I'm lonely and depressed.

Hang int here, it will be over soon and you and your sweetie will be reunited. Remember she has lots of family here with hugs so she can make it thru. You did this for a reason and it will all be over and okay soon.

Love you, mom
Wednesday, June 30, 2010 - 02:39 AM

thank you for this, im going to Fort Benning on may 31. this is a big help. thank you.
Tuesday, February 22, 2011 - 09:58 AM

Glad I could help. It's still an adventure every day, although not as crazy as basic training was. An experience that I'll remember for ever.
Tuesday, February 22, 2011 - 09:34 PM

Saturday, June 19, 2010

AIT Starts Here (AIT - Fort Gordon) Day 1

The Signal Corps Insignia

I finally have access to my computer for a few days, so I thought I would give my wife a break and add some updates myself. Until she gets back home and receives some of my previous posts there may be a few days missing
Today we woke up at around 7:00 AM and slowly got ready for the day. With coffee from Starbucks, we were ready to go. We were on the road to Fort Gordon by 9:30 AM. We arrived to our hotel at about 1:45 PM. A few pit stops on the way to relieve ourselves and pick up some munchies for the road. Once we were all settled into our hotel, I checked in on PFC Metal to see how he was coming. We decided to head into Fort Gordon together. He arrived a little after 3:00 PM and we headed off to Fort Gordon.
Fort Gordon is where I will be having my AIT (Advanced Individual Training). Basic training teaches every recruit the foundations of being a soldier. AIT then teaches each soldier about the job they will be doing in the army. The length of AIT depends on the job you are doing in the army. My AIT is a little over 20 weeks long.
Once at Fort Gordon we had some minor issues finding where to check in. On the website it had a couple of different addresses. I called another guy from our bay that was already checking in and we got it all figured out.
The check in process was fairly easy. We were given a packet full of pretty much everything we have done up to this point in our career in the army. We turned in most of this packet at the check in desk. We took out a few specified sheets and then after about 10 minutes we were escorted over to C company. Since we were leaving on a weekend pass with family all we had to do was fill out a bit of paperwork and then a sergeant signed it and said we were free to leave for the weekend.
I’m not really looking forward to being the fresh meat here at Charlie company. It will take a couple of weeks to figure out how everything works and the “ins and outs” of the place. It’s nice to be free again, so I’m going to enjoy the weekend with my wife.
I am due back on Sunday by 14:00 with all my bags to see my new home.
We checked out the local mall and then had dinner at PF Changs with PFC Metal and his wife. How great it is to enjoy a meal and have a conversation. I had my legs crossed and actually looked around the room too. I felt like I was breaking all the rules LOL.


Josh Mahaffey

Hey Mcguire, hows it feel to be free again?

Sunday, June 20, 2010 - 06:46 PM

Friday, June 18, 2010

Basic Training Conclusion

I finally finished basic training. It turned out to seem a lot longer that I thought it would be. It had a lot of excitement, plenty of boredom, action and drama.
I found that the physical part of basic was not nearly as hard as I had thought it would be. Don’t get me wrong we had some pretty physical days, but coming into this I thought it would be a lot tougher. I had imagined every day being pushed to the limit during our PT sessions and this just wasn’t the case. I was the “old man” and I was still able to beat over half of the people in my platoon on the PT test. This is something I’m proud of. I’ve always stayed in decent shape and I felt I pushed myself to do better each time.
The mental part was much tougher that I thought it would be. This is true especially in the beginning of basic training while we were in “Red Phase”. A person is thrown into a brand new situation with no idea of what’s going on. There is little sleep and a lot of classroom time where a lot of training is shoved down your throat. Besides the classroom training you are learning everything to do in the military for the first time. All this is done with little sleep. It’s a lot to digest and you have to do it fast. The good thing is over time everything gets easier.
The hardest part for me was the separation from my family. When you’re in basic training you are pretty much cut off from the outside world. After “Red Phase” you may get some phone calls, but it all really depends on your DS. Different platoons in our company all had varied times they were allowed to use the phone. Some were allowed to use it much more that us and one platoon almost never had the chance.
This experience has been quite an adventure. I’m glad I did it. Would I want to do it again…no. Sometimes I thought I can’t believe they actually are paying me to do this (shooting & confidence course). Sometimes I thought I can’t believe I have to do stupid things like this (picking up leaves…one by one). I’m also glad I wrote the journal each night. Not only will it be neat to look back on later in life, it may help others get an idea of what basic training is like. Writing each night also helped get everything off my chest. I would highly encourage others to write letters home and for the loved ones of soldiers in basic to write them. Sometimes my wife would just tell me about the normal events that she did in her day. I loved reading them, I loved reading all the letters I received. I craved those letters every day. Mail call was the highlight of everyone’s night.
Some Keys To Remember:
Pay attention to detail. When the DSs tell you something make sure to do it exactly as they say. 
Get in shape before shipping off to basic. Try to make sure you can pass the PT test before you leave. I saw many guys struggle all the way up to the very end just to meet the minimum requirements in order to pass. 
- Also keep working out nightly on your own, especially in reception. Doing this will help you out immensely
Help out your battle buddies as much as possible. Keep an eye on all the guys around you. Make sure they are in the right uniform, they have their complete uniform, their pockets are closed and their hat is on straight...etc. This will help them out, it will help keep your platoon from being smoked, and they will return the favor and let you know if you are screwed up.
Memorize The Soldier’s Creed, Army Values, 3 General Orders, The Army Song, & The Rank Structure. This will give you a head start because you will need to know all these in basic.
Don’t take anything personally. The DSs are going to yell and scream at you and your platoon. They are going to call you names and do their best to break you down. Just remember they are trying to do their job. Let it roll off your back and don’t sweat the small stuff.
Swallow your pride and whatever it is just say “Yes Drill Sergeant”. It doesn’t matter if you are right or wrong, or if you have a great excuse…just say those magic words… “Yes Drill Sergeant”
Don’t believe everything the DSs tell you. They seem to exaggerate everything. They do their best to make you anxious about whatever task is coming up.

You will hear:
Hurry Up! – One of the DSs favorite sayings. It doesn’t matter if you have 2 minutes or 30 minutes, you will hear this all the time. Just make sure that you are “moving with a purpose” in everything you do. It gets annoying…just something you have to deal with
Shut Up! – It seems guys just can’t keep their mouths shut. Everyone will start chatting with each other and the DSs hate this background noise. They will constantly yell Shut Up until finally they have had it, then everyone will get smoked.
Drink Water – In the hot weather it’s very important to stay hydrated. The DSs will constantly be telling everyone to drink water. Do your best to stay hydrated…it will save your life.

Best thing to purchase not on any packing list:
Rite in the Rain paper and products. These products are waterproof and they are awesome. They are great for the FTX trips. If you keep some on you like I did, you don’t have to worry about everything getting ruined if it starts pouring down rain all of a sudden while you are outside.

Graduation Day (Basic Training) Day 72

A picture my wife took of our platoon during the graduation ceremony

I finally have access to my computer for a few days, so I thought I would give my wife a break and add some updates myself. Until she gets back home and receives some of my previous posts there may be a few days missing
My last day in basic training....seems like I’ve been here for so long. We woke up and assembled downstairs. The senior DS was calling guys names from the entire company to come up and get in a line next to him. I’m not sure what was up with everyone, but nobody was sounding off letting the DS know they were coming. Everyone was warned a few times. When the next person didn’t sound off, the entire company ended up having to do push-ups. Our last little smoke before leaving.
The guys called up were all promoted either from E-1 to E-2 or E-2 to E-3 because of their hard work during this cycle. There were about 10 of them total. 
After this we all boarded a bus and headed out to the field where we were graduating. We were given MREs for breakfast (oh yum), so I just ate a muffin and some raisins out of it. Everyone just picked one of two things just to tide them over until after graduation. We then rehearsed the ceremony again and then waited an hour out of sight in some bleachers until it was time to start.
The graduation ceremony was pretty cool. It was hot and I had sweat dripping down my face and chest, but the excitement overwhelmed me. The whole thing was over before I knew it. My wife came out onto the field and I picked her up and gave her a big hug. I said goodbye to a few guys and then we were out of there. We had exactly one hour to check out back at the bay, or else we would have to wait until 22:00 until we could leave. 
We got a little lost on the way back. I was starting to get a little nervous, but we made it back with about 15 minutes to spare. After we left I felt a big relief. This chapter is now done.
We celebrated and went out to eat. I had some great blueberry french toast for brunch, then came back to the hotel room to relax and make a number of calls to family. My awesome mother in law had my wife pack some of her lemon cake on the plane with her and brought it all the way here. So I ate that and relaxed some more.
Dinner was all you can eat pizza and dessert was a brownie sunday. I think I may explode! I’m going to have to do some push-ups in the morning. LOL
Random DS Quote “Good job this cycle privates” (Our senior DS right before we headed out to perform the graduation of the few positive remarks ever given to us)

A picture my wife took of the entire company (along with the band) in formation
for the graduation ceremony.

A picture my wife took of our platoon as we were marching past the bleachers
during the graduation ceremony

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Family Day (Basic Training) Day 71

A picture my wife took of our platoon forming up in the CTA on family day. 
I'm the bald white guy behind our DS

I finally have access to my computer for a few days, so I thought I would give my wife a break and add some updates myself. Until she gets back home and receives some of my previous posts there may be a few days missing
Today started off very early. Our cool DS woke up everyone at about 1:45 AM and had us all stand in front of our bunks. I was a little disoriented and thought is was actually time to get up. For some reason there was a guy missing from his bunk. He decided in the middle of the night to get up and move to the other end of the bay and sleep in an empty bed. Once he was “found” we were allowed to go back to sleep.
We had to wake up at 5:00 AM and got ready in our summer PTs. We did family day rehearsal a couple more times, we were then told we look like shit...then we were released until breakfast time at 7:30.
After breakfast we got all dressed up in our class B uniforms. Then we all waited about 30 to 45 minutes in the stairwell until we started the ceremony. The ceremony went off without any issues, then out of the blue I found out that all married couples had to go to a classroom together. So much for getting out of this place ASAP.
We sat through some information on insurance, legal stuff that the JAG office can do for us, and some other information for the health and welfare of families.
Once class was over my wife and I took off and left Ft. Benning....Woohoo! First stop...Mexican food for lunch. 2nd stop the hotel. After a while I was laying down out of uniform might say I was close to falling asleep. All of a sudden a loud high pitched screech assaulted my ears. It was actually painful to hear. This hotel had a high tech fire alarm that will not let you ignore actually forces you out of the building just by the extremely annoying sound.
I grabbed my swim trunks and a t-shirt with some flip flops and headed out of the room hoping that all my stuff wasn’t going to end up in flames. Turns out that it was just some kid in the elevator that pushed the fire alarm button.
Since I had the swimming trunks on we decided to take a dip in the hot tub...nice and relaxing.
We then got ready and headed out to a Texas Roadhouse for some steak. Two great meals along with a number of hot tamales and I was very satisfied.
We headed back to the base with some extra time to spare. We hung out until my platoon had to form up for accountability (we were all there)
As we were heading up to our bay we could hear 3rd platoon did not have everyone...then came the dreaded words from the DS “Half right face....front leaning rest position...move” They had to do a number of push-pus in front of their family because of late people.
We were all laughing a little about that until we got to the bay. Our DS found out PVT Ironic did not have his ACUs for graduation day tomorrow. He packed everything up and put it in his parents we all got smoked for that LOL (he was able to call and have them brought back)
The rest of the night was spent cleaning until late in the night. We had to get everything ready for the next cycle. Now I must try and get a little sleep before tomorrow....then I will never have to sleep in this bay again! 
Random DS Quote “If you don’t have sex with your wife 2 or 3 times a’re gay” (Our cool DS explaining how to stay happily married)

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Rehearsal Day (Basic Training) Day 70

I finally have access to my computer for a few days, so I thought I would give my wife a break and add some updates myself. Until she gets back home and receives some of my previous posts there may be a few days missing
Last night PVT Wal-Mart asked if he could have my fire guard charge. I couldn’t argue with that LOL. He wanted the extra time to clean his rifle before it was turned in. So I got a good night’s sleep!
After waking up and getting ready, we were rushed through a duty food breakfast in the CTA. Have I said I really hate being rushed through chow? DSs yelling the whole time “Hurry Up! Hurry Up! .. You’re Done!” I’ll be so glad to get outta here just to get away from that.
When we finished eating, we headed out to a field to rehearse for graduation. We ran through the process twice and then headed back to our bay. We had time to do a quick cleaning of our rifles before turning them in.
We were in for a couple of surprises when we headed down to turn in our rifles. The first surprise was that once we got in formation, we had to wait for an hour and a half. The epitome of “hurry up and wait”. The second surprise was unlike our machine guns, this inspection for our rifles took about 5 seconds. A corporal glanced down the barrel and our bolt, then told us to put it back together. We then filed into the supply room and read off the serial number. Once they checked it off we were done. All that waiting (and so many hours of cleaning) for a 30 second process.
News: PVT Home School will not be graduating with the company. He was unable to pass the PT test, so he will be chaptered out of the army.
After lunch we had rehearsal for family day. This rehearsal actually took longer than the graduation rehearsal. We had to go up all the stairs towards our bay, then come out to the CTA making our grand entrance...then we did it over and over again. We also had to practice putting on our berets really fast....and without a mirror LOL). Everyone was having some issues because we haven’t really worn them (except for pics and forming them on our heads)
Haircuts were next on the agenda for the day. While we were there, we were able to get milkshakes. Since I didn’t get one the other day and I wanted to celebrate the end of basic training...I got an extra extra large Oreo milkshake. It was beautiful. I am now bald and full.
We headed back to the bay to clean. We took a break for dinner and then came back and cleaned some more. We moved all the beds and lockers to buff & mop the floor. We are also supposed to be almost completely out of our locker and living out of our duffel bag.
When we were done cleaning for the night our cool DS and our senior DS just hung out and talked with us. They talked about this cycle, who the favorite DS and worst DS were, among other stories. They also wanted to know what kind of things happened that they didn’t know about...assuring us of no negative consequences. It was actually pretty cool and there were a lot of laughs from both the DSs and all of us as stories were told. At one point our senior DS took a plastic garbage bag and fashioned a diaper out of it. He then made PVT Colon Jr. put it on and taped it so it was airtight on him....all because he kept farting. If only I could have taken a picture of that.
Once story time was over our cool DS hooked his laptop up to the projector and speakers, so we could watch the movie “From Paris with Love” staring John Travolta. A pretty good action flick...bang bang shoot ‘em up entertainment, perfect for a bunch of soldiers. We did notice that when John Travolta used his AT-4 to fire a rocket at the bad guy’s car, he didn’t perform his safety check and didn’t say “back blast area clear”...LOL
We finished at 11:30, so I took a quick shower and now I’m going to bed. Tomorrow is family day!!!!!!
Random DS Quote “It has the texture of oatmeal” (A statement our senior DS told us that he made to the first sergeant. Our Senior DS evidently took a picture of his “capital dump” and sent it to the first sergeant. The first sergeant showed it to the other DSs at lunch and one of them gagged and was unable to eat anymore)

It turns out that after talking with PFC Metal, he had snapped a few pictures of the "diaper incident". Of course I asked him to send them to me so I could post them! (See Below...yup that's me sitting on the floor in the photo)

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Gear Turn in Day (Basic Training) Day 69

This entry was a little delayed...the letter took a while to reach it’s destination, but it did finally arrive
This morning I almost had to get up at 4:40am… oh what a bummer. I've grown to love the days we get to sleep in until 6:00am. They wanted the 4 tallest people in our platoon and had me down as one of them. I made sure or PG knew that I was like the 6th or 7th tallest and named everyone that was taller. So I was able to sleep in after all...LOL.

After breakfast the company had to all go to the classroom and we were given our orders for AIT and copies of all our paperwork that has been done. We verified the info on it and when we got back to our bay we had to turn it in to our DS so it got filed away with all my other paperwork. 

We then listened to the radio and cleaned our rifles until lunch, a little while after lunch our company went and turned in all the gear we were issued when we arrived here so long ago. It was a long hot process. The weather was hot and humid… the norm at Ft. Benning in the summer. We had a big duffel bag full of crap and the rucksack full or crap. We had to wait in line outside the big warehouse (in the hot sun) and slowly, but surely make our way through the return process. The horror stories the DS kept telling us about everything being thoroughly checked and sent back were a little over blown. The people there have so much to process, they could only give everything a quick "once over". Our platoon had nothing sent back.

We then came back to the bay and cleaned our rifles some more. We also pinned on our rank and stuff to our class B uniforms. Then we got dressed from the top up in our Class A uniforms. So we had on the shirt & jacket with tie along with PT shorts and tennis shoes it looked pretty funny. I ended up having to help out a lot of guys with their ties. I guess being the older guy they all came to me. LOL.  We did this because we had to get our pictures taken (from the waste up). Unfortunately, they didn't give us much time before the pictures, so I didn't have a chance to shave. I had the complete 6:00 shadow. We'll see how the pics turn out.

Later on in the night, PVT Lurch started screaming at our PG. Lots of words were exchanged and PVT Lurch's face was all red… our APG had to take him outside to cool him off. Turns out it was about fireguard shifts and sleep.

Speaking of sleep, I'm gonna get some now… we had to stay up late cleaning tonight. 

Random DS Quote: "Oh My God… Did you put butt juice in there?" ( Our cool DS talking to a guy after inspecting his rifle).

Monday, June 14, 2010

Another Surprise (Basic Training) Day 68

These entries are from the remaining letters that Brandon has mailed to me - the next several days up until Day 62 are letters that didn’t make it to me before I left to Georgia. His writing at times can be a bit difficult to determine his words... bare with me, I do my best, especially with army terms.
We slept in until 6:00am this morning. I had CQ duty at 7:00 which worked out fine because breakfast was at 6:30. During CQ duty, me and PVT Cock just sat at the desk and watched everyone clean for an hour. After our shift, we went up to the bay and had to start the process of cleaning out our lockers. I guess we’ll be living out of our duffle bag for the next few days. We were in for another surprise with DS A-Hole...he played music for us. Our PG even came around and took requests. I had to choose one of the greatest songs of all time, Fade to Black by Metallica.
3rd squad, my squad, was chosen to pick weeds in the parking lot.… lots of fun… in the hot sun. After lunch, the company headed over to the photo store and everyone picked up and paid for everything we ordered way back in the 30th AG (reception). I got some of me, one of my entire platoon, a picture CD & a DVD movie they made of clips from our training. I decided against the yearbook, which I’m glad because they combined Bravo & Delta Company together. It seems most of the pictures are of Delta Company.
We then had an opportunity to go to the PX and get milkshakes too. The lines at both places were ridiculous. It's always crazy on weekends. I did wait for the PX though because I needed to get another bag to put all my crap in. When we arrived back we got phone calls for about 45 minutes or so which was great. I was able to chat with each of my kids and my wife… perfect!
After chow and some cleaning in the bay we were allowed to watch “Inglorious Bastards”. There were technical difficulties again at first, but we finally got everything going on the small screen again. Farting from the audience added to the soundtrack, along with lots of giggles after each one was let loose. When we were ½ way through a DS from another platoon came in and said, “It’s 21:00 lights out, this ain’t no college dorm.” So we had to stop the movie and go to sleep.
Random DS Quote: “12 inches, think about it.” (Our cool DS states this often anytime someone starts talking to him)

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Christmas in June (Basic Training) Day 67

These entries are from the remaining letters that Brandon has mailed to me - the next several days up until Day 62 are letters that didn’t make it to me before I left to Georgia. His writing at times can be a bit difficult to determine his words... bare with me, I do my best, especially with army terms.
Today we slept in until 6:00am, which was nice. I have a major cold so that is a pain in the butt. The extra sleep came in handy. My nose is constantly stuffed up. I can’t run to the local convenience store and pick up cold medicine or even vitamins. To get any of that I would need to go to sick call and that’s not going to happen unless I physically just can’t make it through the day.
After breakfast we did everyone’s favorite hobby here in basic… cleaned machine guns. The LTC (Lieutenant Colonel) had everyone fill out questionnaires on how to improve basic and what it is that is already good. He then had a meeting with the entire company to go over it without any DSs there. PFC Metal and I stayed behind to be weapons guards. That means we have to hang out in the bay and make sure nobody steals our weapons. 
After an hour or two our PG and a few others took the machine guns down to get inspected and turned in. Hopefully they will not come back. I never want to see them again. We then started cleaning our own rifles. We hear all the time that we’ll lose our family day if our stuff isn’t clean. I think it’s just scare tactics to get everyone to clean their stuff really well. All my stuff should be good to go. Everything has either gone through the washer or has been scrubbed really well. My rifle is almost done, just need to do a once over just to make sure.
We got some good news… our machine guns have been accepted and turned in. We will no longer be cleaning those damn things! In other news our last guy in our platoon finally passed his PT test. He had PVT GG running with him to motivate and push him and he squeaked by.
I had CQ duty from 16:00-17:00. 17:00 is chow time, so I had to wait until my relief finished eating to relieve me, which left me as the last person to eat in our company. I thought it would be rush rush process, but there wasn’t even a DS in there. I was able to eat at my normal pace and finish with time to spare. 
After chow we continued to clean our rifles and then something very odd happened… DS A-Hole actually started playing music for us. Then the unthinkable happened, DS A-Hole tried to play a movie for us. I say try because he was never able to get the sound working from his computer to the projector. After about a ½ hour of trying, he finally had us bring out the TV from their DS lounge. It’s only about 30” so we had to crowd around it a bit closer; we were able to watch the movie with only a few minor interruptions because of a dirty DVD. The movie was called “Law Abiding Citizen”. It was a pretty good suspense with some twists thrown in it. Everyone enjoyed it. To top it off, before the movie, they allowed us to split up what was left in the contraband box (aka candy) from earlier in the cycle… leftovers from whatever the DSs didn’t take, it was still pretty cool. The movie took us officially past our lights out by about 40 minutes, so right after the movie everyone jumped in bed and crashed.
Random DS Quote: “You guys look like dick soup” (a DS from another company walked over to our platoon and didn’t realize our PG had put us at rest… so there were a number of guys talking and just hanging out in a loose formation.)


its was fun and a great experience. Bravo 2-47 bulldogs hooah.

Sunday, August 28, 2011 - 03:24 AM

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Wrestle Mania (Basic Training) Day 66

These entries are from the remaining letters that Brandon has mailed to me - the next several days up until Day 62 are letters that didn’t make it to me before I left to Georgia. His writing at times can be a bit difficult to determine his words... bare with me, I do my best, especially with army terms.
This morning we woke up and did the “The Raider Run” also known as “The Raider Fun Run”. I don’t mind going for a run, but I would never classify it as fun. There were a lot of rumors leading up to it. Was it an all out race? Was it 6 miles? It turned out to be a slow jog for about 3 miles all run in platoons. The DSs took turns doing cadence the entire time, so that was pretty cool (when we could understand them). The commander led it and even though it was at a jog, I worked up a pretty good sweat. 
After the run the commander gave a little speech and after the DS called us pieces of shit, then we took a shower and got ready for “Raider Breakfast”
Raider Breakfast included steak & eggs if you wanted. We all got our food and took it to classroom 2 to eat. While we were eating (and not being rushed) we enjoyed a slide show of a number of pictures that were taken during basic. When that was finished the soldiers from each platoon got up on stage and did their best impersonations of the DSs. There were some pretty funny ones and some really stupid ones. There were a number that made the DSs laugh. All in all pretty good time. 
After breakfast we had to lay out all the equipment we were issued for basic. A nice touch was that we were able to listen to some good music during this unpacking process… including some of my favorites Metallica & Lacuna Coil. Once everything was out the DS had to go over each item before we packed it.
Since our company is almost finished, all the other companies (and basically anyone who needs volunteers) come here. I think since we’re 1st platoon they come here first.  We have had to send out “duty squads” all week. Today I got volunteered for a duty squad. We unloaded an entire semi truck full of ice blocks and crushed ice for Foxtrot Company… that’s some cold work.
Oh joy, guess what we got to do after lunch? Clean machine guns. We only have 6 assigned to our platoon and I think everyone has spent hours on every single piece of every single machine gun.
After dinner we got our custom platoon t-shirt. Now everyone is running around the bay wearing them and all the other t-shirts they bought. They seem worse than women at a shopping mall.
The main event tonight was wrestling in the bay… on the hard ass tile floor. The entire platoon (except for a door guard watching out for the DS on duty).  Guys would call each other out and if the other accepted they would wrestle. No punching… just a combination of wrestling and submission. There were some god matches. Most ended by a choke out, but PFC Metal actually won by an arm bar. Every fight had side bets going, which got everybody excited and really into it. Eventually 3rd platoon ended up finding out about it and they even had a few people come down and wrestle. (1st platoon won each of those).
Random DS Quote: “Did you brush your teeth with dick this morning?” (Our cool DS commenting on Lurch’s breath this morning).