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.