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Letters from Basic, 7, June 16th, 2002 :: Ben Turner's Soapbox

 

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archived soapbox: June 16th, 2002
"Letters from Basic, 7" [permalink]
    keywords: military, U.S. Army, basic training
    soapbox #: 349
    written: January 11th, 2003
    words: 1306

"Letters from Basic, 7", an Essay

13 June 02: Hi folks. Things haven't been as fast paced lately but I felt I should start a new letter in the 20 minutes I have remaining tonight.

Since the last letter, nothing bad happened after Free Day Away, really. One dumb girl/female in our platoon had her husband (a military policeman on base) come to Free Day Away, which is against regulation. Not sure how they were punished but the issue went to both units' first sergeants so it couldn't be good. The female was crying. By the way, did you know that females greatly outnumber males here? Did I tell you already?? It's almost a 2 to 1 ratio. Today was a cool day because the males and females separated and we males went to practice throwing grenades in The Pit. We had D.S. Pruett and D.S. Collins looking over us, but they're really laid back so it was fun. D.S. Collins has a lot of combat zone experience so he shared lots of stories like how one guy in his unit fired an AT4 (anti-tank) at a camel! Then we went to this one place to do something wonderful: we got fitted for our Class A uniforms (the fancy one!). It was delightful. We had our whole light green shirts with smooov dark green pants and coats. I saw the Specialist patches and gold U.S. pins that'll be on my Class A. Add the marksman pin and it'll look tight. We all felt proud to have tried on our uniforms and felt like we'd accomplished much. In less than a month we'll be crossing the stage with them on, in front of you!

Free Day Away did a good fixing on my candy cravings. Some dumbasses are going to send pictures they took back to our unit. I know some illegal stuff will be on the photos and we'll get smoked.

Fri. 14: Today we did our Phase 2 PT test. I did 49 pushups (only 2 better than last time), 83 situps (max was 80 I did 73 last time), and 13:50 on the run (about the same as before). I got a total score of 270. Max is 300. You get a PT award if you get 90 points in each event. I got 70, 100, and 90 respectively so I need to get better in pushups. I'll do closehand pushups on my fireguard. Yay for exercise at 2AM. Hawke blew everyone away. 70 pushups, 80 situps, 12:40 run! If he got a few more pushups, he'd be maxed and would be getting extra points over 300. Make sense? Guess not... The D.S.s respect Hawke. I think he'll be a DS one day. They let him sing cadence once while marching today but he sucked!

We did some knowledge testing today too. Notable was having to seal our protective gas masks on our faces in 9 seconds. Otherwise a slow day. D.S. Eisch said there's a rumor we might get blue phase banners tomorrow. That'd be a week early! We're sure he's just playing mind games. We are the top platoon right now because we excelled at BRM and our average PT score keeps improving above the standard. If we beat the other platoons in a few other areas, we graduate honor platoon! We're losing people though. One thrown out for peanut butter, 2 for epilepsy, 1 for refusing to pick up a rifle. Two for misbehavior. We'll probably lose 3-4 more because they're in terrible shape.

Sat. 15: Sucks not having enough time to write. Today we did a 10km march to a range where we practiced advancing through a course with our weapons. We had to do high scrawls, low crawls, throw dud grenades, and shoot blanks as we moved in teams of two. Clearly the coolest part of the day was wearing camo paint for the first time! We all looked like mean motherfuckers with our camo'd up faces and hands running in the forest with M16A2s. The D.S.s were badass. We have 2 out of the 3 infantry D.S.s in our platoon so D.S.s Eisch and Conn showed off their camo patterns and D.S. Conn had a tight BDU mockup with burlap strips and fake foliage hanging off him like a sniper ghillie suit.

On last Monday we were introduced to basic bayonet movements. "What is the spirit of the bayonet?" "KILL KILL KILL, Drill Sergeant!" "What makes the green grass grow?" "BLOOD BLOOD BLOOD, bright red blood, Drill Sergeant!" On Wednesday we learned thrusts, slices, butts, and so on with the bayonet and did an obstacle course where we stabbed Ivans made of rubber. D.S. Eisch demonstrated on the rubber tire targets and went crazy; he dropped his weapon and jumped on the target and bit its head while yelling at it. We all laughed.

Had jello with mixed fruit tonight. Simple, delightful pleasure that makes the day end better somehow. I want a Coke now. The D.S. on night duty had a big plate of gooey brownies on his desk to eat overnight. And they tell us not to eat fat cakes!

Great news! This morning before our march, the company commander, Captain Treadway, put Blue Phase banners on every platoon's pole. So we're in Blue Phase a whole week early! We're already sounding off during cadence louder. We're almost to the end! The days go by fast because we usually will do one obstacle course per day now. I hate the obstacle courses though. A lot of hassle.

That's one thing. I really miss thinking. I want to read a book or watch CNBC or surf the news sites or do a crossword. Everyone here basically tries to top each other with stories about their wives or cars. It gets old fast. I want new info badly...

I think I have bad news. I heard the D.S. say that DLI people get treated just like everyone else for the first 12 weeks. This means I'll basically be in a basic-like shithole for 3 months more. Plus I think I'll have to either go straight to Monterey after basic or stay here in FLW even though my AIT doesn't start until 3 weeks after basic. So I don't think at this point that I'll get to come home until maybe Xmas. Seriously bummed about that. But we'll find out full details at AIT orientation in a couple weeks. Maybe I can get hometown recruiting where you get to go home for 2 weeks but you have to work with the recruiter during the day. I heard you have to be a good soldier though and at best the D.S.s think I'm a quiet private who is a little behind the curve. Bottom line: we'll see.

Yesterday was the Army's birthday so we went to this big ceremonial field and the whole post was there. We got to see our post commander, Major General Aadland, direct the ceremony. There was a huge birthday cake that everyone wanted. They retired 6 people and swore in some fresh recruits. We wanted to yell out to them, "Run away while you still can!"

That's all for this letter. Next one will contain tales of obstacle courses galore and final basic training wrap-ups.

I know I wrote it before but I've never missed you all so much as I do here. Have fun and enjoy life as much as you can because you could be here in this oppressive hellhole (okay, it's not TOO bad now that we're used to it and the D.S.s have lightened up).


 
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