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.


  1. Hello, I want to first say thank you for posting all your journals from your time at Ft. Benning. I leave for basic in under 2 weeks and found them very very informational. But I have some questions if you wouldn't mind answering them for me? I noticed that your journal only went up to 50 or 60 so days. I was under the impression that I would be going to Benning for 3.5 months? Also another question, I'm leaving and all and wont have a problem making tape or anything but im that fat guy that is gonna be in the platoon. Now im not gonna be the same guy from your journals that was crazy but im fearing I will have trouble with the mile run in under 8:30 in reception and then the 2 mile in basic under 16 mins. Any advice at all while im there to make sure I graduate? Like I said your journals were very informing and I spent countless hours on my phone reading all about your times there. Thank you

  2. Hello,

    It all depends on what your MOS is. I was a 25B (I.T. Specialist), so for me once I was finished with basic training, I headed off to AIT. My AIT was about 6 months. If you are going in as infantry or similar MOS, you'll just continue on at Ft. Benning after you finish the initial basic training.

    As far as your weight goes, you'll be losing quite a bit while in basic. Because of the schedule and only being able to quickly eat while at the DFAC, you'll probably be surprised how much weight you lose. As far as running goes, just keep at it. You're allowed to have a watch (make it black) while in basic, so I suggest getting a cheap digital watch that at least has a timer/stopwatch available on it. I used that to pace myself during all my runs. I knew I had to run each quarter mile in 2 minutes in order to get a 16 minute 2-mile. I hated running and always have, but the more you do it...the better you'll get at it. If you focus, you'll be able to finish by the end of basic for sure. We had some guys that were flat out horrible and really out of shape at the start, but by the end they were doing just fine.

    Other advice...just keep your head down, show up where you're supposed to be on time (when I say on time, I mean at least 10 to 15 minutes early), and make sure you're in the right uniform. Listen to what the drill sergeants say and help out your battle buddies. The more you keep yourself straight and those around you, the better off you'll be. Also remember that the drill sergeants just do crap a lot of time for their own entertainment...and there's not a lot you can do about it.

    Also...don't fall asleep in the classes :)

    Good luck...and if you have any other questions before you take off let me know,


  3. I felt compelled to send you a quick (but immense!) THANK YOU for your webpage about basic training at Ft. Benning. My son will be leaving in three weeks and the information you so readily shared has helped me a lot. I will worry far less thanks to your very gracious act. Surprisingly, I find myself far too upset at his leaving and being able to get a better picture of what he will experience goes a long way toward peace of mind. Thank you again!

  4. I really enjoyed reading your blog.

  5. i am 5'3 guy and i will leave for bct in 3 weeks. i can do push ups and sit ups just fine but i am worried about my running to keep up with the taller guys. and i am just wondering if i score high on my PT test will the ranger recruiters will give me a chance to try out the rangers too even though im small and cant speak perfect english.

    1. i will be waiting for your response

    2. If you're in shape, you'll be fine. I'm a taller guy, but I don't really like running at all. I bought a cheap watch and just used it to pace myself for the 2 mile runs. There were plenty of shorter guys that ran much faster than I did. In fact some of the fastest runners we had in basic and AIT were shorter people. If you're looking to get into the rangers, just make sure you find out the time you need to get (depending on your age range) and pace yourself with a watch during the run. You'll get better and better as basic goes on trust me!

  6. Just wanted to drop a quick thanks. Our son is at Benning now and this was a great read. We wish you luck in the future.

    1. Thanks, glad you enjoyed my journal. I wish your son the best in his army career!

  7. This comment has been removed by the author.