Saturday, July 2, 2011

8th Letter

BCT Day 26 Monday 5/30/11
Memorial Day 

Today was meant to be a chill day…for the most part. With the PT Test coming up the next day, the DSs did not do any PRT or any kind of smoking sessions as well.  After breakfast chow, we were ordered to perform another bleach drill as well. We got our bleach drill done fairly quick and started working on the inside of our lockers for a 1900 locker inspection by our SDS. He made a deal that we could get a call and the time was based off our inspection results. 

After much debate, it was decided that all 4 squad leaders would go around and straighten each locker to make sure they were good to go. As a squad, I thought this was a good idea. Throughout the day, the DS that were left to babysit us for the day let the people who passed their PT test go and get ice cream and then get milkshakes. I was not a part of this group as I saw it as a perfect chance to nap and gorge extra calories and sugar. At one point, I got more the PLT to chow as the PG was available. I did alright calling commands for the first time, I think. At 1900, our SDS came in and did his inspection. He was impressed. He said, “It wasn’t perfection, but it looked good and we got a 20 minute phone call on our phones.” I called my parents and spoke to them for about 10 minutes. They couldn’t understand how I was going to be able to run 2 miles with the bronchitis. I told them I would make it happen. I then spoke to my wife for about 10 minutes. It was nice because we covered some details about my graduation and her ID. After the calls I actually went down and bought a protein bar to help me with my PT test the next morning. I figured I could use all of the extra energy I could get before bed.

BCT Day 27 Tuesday 5/31/11

After wakeup, we all put on our stylish PT vests with our roster # printed on the front. We formed up in lines and started our test. I did not luck out and got the super picky Asian DS who kept telling me to go lower while still counting my pushups. I stopped for a second to figure out what he meant and he snapped “Go You!” I also lost count and ended up doing 3 less pushups then last with 4, still a passing score AIT, sit-ups, was a different story. I did 8 more than time with 59. After my situps, I had enough time to go upstairs, use the latrine, read my wife’s last letter and gather some motivation before we left for the 2 mile run. The run was a lot easier considering I was not coughing up any blood. However, during my run, a DS came up next to me and said to keep this pace. I started coughing and he told me not to be doing that just because he was there. I then backed up a huge white pile of stuff and spit it out. I guess it was big enough that the DS said, “Go PVT, are you dying because that was huge?” I ended up shaving 41 seconds of my previous time and getting a BCT passing score of 17:04, I was pleased because I improved again and now know that I can pass the test to get out of BCT. I’ll be honest; I have little doubts of whether I could make it or not after seeing the holdovers from other companies. After the run, the DSs had us double time or light run, back to the CTA which was about ¾ of mile back. I did not fall out this time. I did not need that kind of attention. We then ate breakfast chow outside. After chow, DS T spoke to us on how to improve out PT scores. We then tried a PT drill that we will try during personal time to help our scores as a PLT. He then had us do it to show we could do it on time. We then worked on our rifle for a little bit to clean. After chow, we marched over and worked with the EST 2000 again. This time it had us shooting at simple pop-up targets to help prep us for the real pop up targets we would start firing at the next day. 

After that, we had dinner chow and then we had a pleasant surprise of a health and wellness check. This is an impromptu check, search, and dump of your locker, bed and entire bay. It is disappointing to see all of your items dumped into one big pile with no regard how neat it was. The DSs were prompted to do this search because someone broken into our DSs office the previous night and stole some cigarettes. They did not find any cigarettes, but they did find Girl Scout cookie box and a Twix wrapper. The DSs did figure it was from my previous bunkmate. So they did not hold it against us. The rest of the day consisted of our usual except we got to clean up our DS mess.

BCT Day 28 Wednesday 6/1/11

We prepped and rode trans to range to shoot at our first real timed pop-up targets. The heat from the day was getting to some people. The day was scheduled to go till 1700 and I think we were supposed to fire more than once. But that did not happen. I think it had something to do with the heat. The range was supposed to simulate or even copy the exact situation of our qualification range on Friday and Saturday for BRM. To give a little food for thought you are given 40 rounds. 20 rounds fired from lying down with a sandbag (prone supported), laying down with sandbags (prone unsupported), and kneeling. The goal is to get at least 23 targets. I really do not know what happened with my shooting but I only got a 19. I know that I missed the first target because the range announcer did not give any real warning to load before shooting. Than my rifle did not fire off about 4 rounds and expelled them. Whatever, I have time. After getting back our SDS smoked us for a while because we couldn’t stay in step to the PG’s cadence. Problem is our PG calls cadence a little too fast. The SDS then took us out and marched us for a while. We then got cool showers (heat dumps) and cleaned our weapons. 

We also had someone else in my squad quit to start his Mormon mission before his 19th birthday. Because of that, I was tasked with cleaning his rifle for turning to the armor. Unfortunately, I did not get started soon enough and was told I would have to carry it around the next day. Great!

After that, we went to chow. After chow, we had hydration formation where we were told to do a bleach drill. In the middle of our bleach drill, we were called down to the Co. classroom for an information sell on class rings for graduation. I felt that I had no need to spend at least $200 on a ring. I never really wore my high school ring. After that, it was the usual night with the exception of the CQ DS waking me up for being a squad leader and having a can of Lysol to give the fireguard.

BCT Day 29 Thursday 6/2/11
The day started with us doing some light PRT outside in our ACUs. We were supposed to leave and start marching at 0600 hrs, but we didn’t start marching out of the CTA till after 0700. Our pace was very fast. I even had a little difficulty keeping the pace after figuring out the second rifle I was carrying come loose and started banging my arms and legs. I tried fixing it myself and couldn’t find anyone to help me out. Evidently, because our late start, someone in our company leadership decided we needed to double time the last bit of our march. Holy Crap! I kept up with our platoon for the most part; but the extra weapon kept falling off and I ended up being swallowed by the PLT behind us. When we got to our formations, they yelled for any and all fallouts to go to a separate area. I walked over. What annoyed me was the fact that there were guys who fell out, but didn’t own up to it. We then had the company commander come over and tell us how pathetic we were and that he didn’t even want us to stay in the Army anymore. I didn’t take it personal because I knew I could have stayed in formation had it not been for the extra weapon.

We had UPU, and then formed up and got to our station. I forgot to mention that we were at the LOMATT range again. It was easier if you ask me because there were only 3 targets to choose from. My first round of shooting was not my best. I am not sure what I got, but I got at least a 23 out of 40. My second round shooting was a little better. I shot 30 out of 40.

We then had lunch chow. Towards the end of chow, our PLT’s guide on Flag fell. Our SOS said that our entire PLT died and that we needed to be getting our latest ELS guy’s weapon to turn in. We then ate UPU outside for dinner chow because it was supposed to be eaten at the range. We then had hydration formation and went to our bays. We then took our Green Army blankets off our bed to turn in. Evidently they agree that those may be helping to spread the crud. The “gut truck” came later. When everyone was in line, the fire alarm went off. I tried to go back up to get our rifle, but someone in my PLT told me not to worry about it. The DS came out and noticed 2 PLTs had their rifles and two didn’t. We will see if we will pay later. We got back inside and I took a long warm shower before bed. The fire alarm went off at 2200 again for a bit, and then back to bed before 0100-0200 Fireguard shift. Yay!

BCT Day 30 6/30/11
Range Pre-qual Day

The morning started with some light PRT in the morning on our ACUs. After that we had chow at the DFAC for breakfast. I have not explained the process or ceremony we go through to get into the DFAC. We march to the DFAC where the PG or DS yells chow formation. We then condense our 4 ranks into 2 ranks and throw our rifles over our shoulders (chow sling). We then yell “Last man get the door!” 3 times while the last guy in the PLT runs to the door. He then starts, “Last man’s got the door, what the hell are you yelling for?” Usually, we answer with “because we are hungry and want some chow.” We then shovel and eat food in about 5-8 minutes. 

After breakfast, we rode over to the range we were at two days prior. They let us fire twice. This range had the realistic pop up targets. I shot a 20 first and then figured out what I was going wrong and then fired 28. After that, we rode back to the CTA where we did a “heat dump.” We then ate dinner chow outside. We then did mail call where our SDS had fun throwing mail at the privates. We did our usual activities before lights out.

BCT Day 31 6/4/11
BRM Qualification Day

The cadre actually let us sleeps till about 0500 and we had our formation at 0615. We did PRT in the ACUs in bay. Our SDS had us do some cherry pickers. I don’t know why he would try to make our arms sore or weak the morning we would need them to shoot. We had Trans pick us up and take us to the range where we ate breakfast chow before firing. I did not fire as well as I had wanted. I shot a 20 and not the 23. However, because I shot the 28 the day before, I was good to go. I guess they wanted to save the ammo. Our PLT was supposed to win the BRM streamer and beat the rest of the company, but one guy picked up the wrong rifle, not his, and only shot a 7. Because of that, our average was thrown off. 4th Platoon ended up winning the BRM streamer. What is funny is that most of them said they won it by default because they had so many no go’s. Oh well.

For the next 3 hours, we waited for the last of the company to try and shoot a 23. Then before we left, the DSs felt they had too much ammo and let people fire off the rest. I got up there and shot a 29…figures. It was sad to see two people needing an ambulance because they were heat casualties. Mainly because it was really uncomfortable experience if a person passes out or fell shot, the DSs will take an oral temp. If it is above 100 or 101they will then take an anal temp. If that is elevated as well, the casualty will then be stripped of their underwear and then covered up by abo9ut 5 or 6 sheets that have been soaking in an icy slush mix. The biggest reason for this is that these people are not drinking enough water. 

Around 1500 we rode back, took a heat dump and started eating chow. During chow, we two guys from first PLT hit temps of 101 and above. They two got the ice sheet treatment. Evidently they had guys avoid going to sick call so they could shoot today.

After chow, it was normal events before lights out. I did do fireguard where the CQ DS came in a woke everyone for people not wearing their PT uniforms, or not wearing shirts. The problem is, the bay is friggin’ hot lately with a half working A/C.
BCT Day 32 6/5/11

It was a relatively low key for the most part. We ate chow around 0630 and headed back to our bay to do our usual bleach drill. After that, it was mostly free time till DS T came in and spoke to us and answered some issues we might have had. I brought up the fact that many of us wanted to look at our leave and earning statement (lies) and figure out why the previous paycheck seemed so out of whack. He then let some of us sign on and views our LES and he explained how confusing the Army payroll can be. Evidently, they give you an inflated paycheck first and then take some back. I am not worried, in a month; I will be getting to Ft. Gordon where I can go and speak with the finance department when I got setup my TSP (The army 401k).
We then went to chow. After chow, I took my squad to the PX where we purchased any bare necessities. I actually purchased a large bottle of dish soap/hand soap for our bathroom. I don’t know if I mentioned this or not, but our PLT does has not had hand soap in our latrine since we arrived. Evidently, the budget is so cut that hand soap is not important. I will see how long my bottle lasts. After getting back, I then went to mass. This week ha mass in the newly renovated chapel instead of the reception building. After mass, we had chow and hydration formation where we were ordered to do another…bleach drill.

Later, we had another hydration formation where we chewed out because so many people have been acting out and losing discipline. The DSs are thinking of pulling our flag and sending us back o red phase. I hope that got through to some of the people in our PLT. Too many people are ruining it for us. The “Gut Truck” came out and the people passed the PT test were allowed pizza, and/or wings. No point in spending $10 on a small box for myself.

After lights out, I then got to go and do staff duty from 2300-2400. Basically we watch the battalion front door and desk. And because it was late, we watched some TV. DS T BS’ed with us for a little bit. I bet he will be a lot of fun during our next two FTX’s.

Funny DS quote of the day: “I don’t know what it is here in Columbus, but warn your family that the drivers here suck! For some reason when they start driving, they start licking the windows.”

Monday, June 27, 2011

7th Letter

BCT Day 19 5/23/11
Today was a very weird, hurry up and wait day for our platoon. We were informed that two other platoons would be spending all day at the shooting range getting to know their rifles with live fire. We on the other hand would be spending the day learning urban operations and going to the PX for haircuts and any hygiene items we may need.

I forgot to mention that the previous night was not very fun with 3 people coming down with fevers and one person going to the hospital as well because he said he had a list of people that would “take care” of on the range once he had live rounds. Afterwards, he would take care of himself. So… yeah. In addition to that, we had two people get into an argument and one person lost his cool and pushed the other. This prompted the DS to chew out all of the platoon leadership for about 15 minutes. Later in the night, the DS came back and dropped off the would-be shooter and said he is to be watched for suicide watch.

Any who, we had our most intense PRT session so far. We did our crappy warm session and then some other random warm up exercises. After that, they had us do 1 mile worth of 30/60s. Usually this means you sprint for 30 seconds and job 60 seconds. However, because this was our first 30/60, they had us sprint and walk. Plus, the sprinting didn’t feel like a full 30 seconds. I get the feeling the DSs had us moving late for chow by one DS telling another not to stretch us or give us a cool down because we needed to be at chow “Now.” Great!!! [Insert sarcasm] Have us push ourselves physically and not stretch…no one will hurt tomorrow.
After chow, we were instructed to spend our time working on BRM activities. I guess urban operations were not feasible today because it never happened. Later, one DS instructed to PG and platoon leadership that they need to get a list from each person as to what they need from the PX. They would then go to the PX for them. What the DS was not clear about was when. Our PG took that as going at will before and after chow and not when we were at the PX for haircuts.

Before chow, I went with the PG to get the last group of shopping lists. On our way back the DS freaked out on us and had us wait for another SFC DS. He then fired the PG and squad leader with us. He asked me what I do. I said “I was just a battle buddy.” He said, “Well it’s too bad you’re getting burned for another’s f-up.” I thought for sure we were getting counseling statements. Turns out we did not. The DS then appointed the goofiest people in the platoon as PG. He looked like he was embarrassed.

We then formed up and marched over to the PX for haircuts. Nothing notable other than getting a half ass haircut and DS catching someone singing to Jewel. All I heard was the DS yelling, “Are you F’king kidding me!?!” We got back to the bay, messed around with our rifles and practiced BRM on the various machines we have in CTA.

DS T got back from the range and had the platoon come and help clean up the deuce (the big work truck we use). He yelled for the PG and got PVT Goofy. He asked “Who the F are you?” “I’m the PG DS.” His response was “Yo ass is fired!” He looked at the PVT that I rode from MEPS with (PVT Hip Hop) and said, “Yo ass is PG.” We then got crap together. Later, that night, we had another bay meeting and the PVT Hip Hop gave a nice little speech of expectations of the platoon and himself. It was motivating. He then had a prayer with most of the platoon. We actually had people try to makeup who had some issues with each other. 

BCT Day 20 5/24/11
First Live Fire Day!

The two platoons shooting today (mine included) didn’t even participate at PRT this morning. I think we actually got out to the range earlier to start earlier and take advantage of more cool morning air. One of the purposes of today was for people to actually fire the weapon and utilize all of the learning from the past 3 weeks. The second was for people to group 4 out of 5 shots in a 4 centimeter area and to adjust their sights to center their shots within the center of a target. This is known as a “zeroing.”

I had a few issues at first. There are about four concepts you have to have right all at once to shoot around the same spot. After 25 rounds, I finally figured it out! After that I spent the rest of the day waiting and helping the DSs with running ammo and other various tasks. We then got back and helped unload the deuces and getting things together for the next day. DS T then came into the bay and BS’s with us and had us hunt the good stuff. That means even though we may have had a crappy day, we need to think of at least on positive thing from the day.

The fact that my squad no longer had a squad leader was addressed. The Ds said he didn’t care and said choose one. The common consensus among the people asked was that it should be me. I was reluctant but wanted to see how long I could last before getting fired. We then had our prayer for the night, but before that DS T came in and figured out we had 18 people with fevers of 101.7 and up. They had a nice trip to the emergency room.

BCT Day 21 Wednesday 5/25/11

We are now the pariahs of the company. 3rd platoon is two inches from a full quarantine with 8 people in the platoon at the ER. This morning started with a little PRT and then an Ability Group Run (AGR). AGRS are broken into 3 groups: A, B, C and maybe D. Alpha group consists of the fastest runners while Charlie consists of the slowest. Because I was trying to get over this crud, I decided to try Charlie. It wasn’t a bad pace, about 9:15 mile speed. I kept up fine till the end where the DSs tried to see who they could lose. I stayed apart of the main group. The people who fell out of the Charlie group are actually who make up the Delta group. I think I will try Bravo group next time and try to step it up. I was a little annoyed that they only ran us 1.5 mile though.

Upon getting back, we promptly ate chow. After chow, we were instructed to go to our bays and…sleep from 0730 to 1100 hrs.…? Evidently the company brass thought the company was sick enough to warrant some extra sleep. Not an argument from any of us with in our platoon. 

After the bleach nap, we were promptly ordered to conduct another bleach drill in the bay. After that, the rest of the day till dinner chow. After dinner chow, we had our hydration formation. This is where we officially transitioned from Red phase to White phase. The difference means we can now get Gatorade and power bars from the “Gut truck” that comes around at or around 2000 most nights, we can walk ourselves to and from various locations without a DS, we can do PT around the CTa and other things. Nothing else happened with the exception of one or more people going to the ER for fevers in our PLT. What else in new. Oh yeah, I did receive a really nice package from my wife. It really helped my morale.

BCT Day 22 Thursday 5/26/11

Another fun morning of PRT in the bay, which is hot and humid in the morning, in our ACUs. Yay. The DSs had SGT Ski run our PRT session.  After PRT we formed up and loaded on Trans to go the location hit and miss range. This is arranged outside with targets like our regular range that illustrates where he hit or miss our shots.
We ate breakfast chow at the range via UPU. After breakfast, they then formed us up to get ready and fire on the range. It was relatively easy for me. I only miss a few shots here there. I actually had the rifle pop back and get me in the lip one shot. It drew a little blood. After I was done and went to turn in my magazines, the DS at the ammo shack told me to take an extra magazine and burn it off…Sweet! I got to go and shoot them off, however I wanted. What did suck was that I did start feeling like crap again and kept getting worse as the day went. I even started coughing up green mucus again. Great!

After the firing, DS T schooled us in tactical formations. He then challenged the other platoon that was with us to a one-man competitive match. Our Korean guy smoked their nerdy know-it-all… We then had a rap off and sing off. We won both as well.
We then rode back to the CTA and had a nice surprise from the DSs. Every PLT had their bay tossed. Our bay got it worse with laundry detergent spread all over almost every surface in the bathroom. I could describe it as a blood scene from “The shining,” but with blue replacing the color red. Evidently, our DSs were extra pissed because we were not doing or bleach drills properly. We cleaned up most of the mess before heading for dinner chow. After chow we had our hydration formation. We had to have it inside due to severe thunder storm warning in the area. Upon getting back, I had the DS on duty check my temperature. It read 100.8. He told me to come back in an hour to come back in an hour to re-check. Upon the second reading was a temp of 100.6. The DSs reply was “you’re getting better private; you don’t need to go to the hospital like all of your other sick platoon buddies.” Whatever, I was going to sick call the next day.

BCT Day 23 Friday 5/27/11
Woke up and tried to get a few bunks in my squad squatted away before leaving for sick call. Evidently, there was on AGR scheduled for that morning, but it was canceled. I think it had something to do with the 4-day weekend for Memorial Day because there were maybe two or three DSs on hand. However, I could hear the platoons working out upstairs in the bays.

Upon getting to the clinic there was a huge line of sick and broken people. There are always the same conversations going on: Who’s DS is meaner, what week they are in, who has a heavier weapon, how they got that nasty rash…etc. My temperature at the clinic was about 99.5. A low grade fever I guess. I was given some antibiotics, cough drops, Tylenol, and Claritin. The RNP asked if I had been to the infirmary before. I said, “No, is that where I am going?” Yep, for 48hrs.” I was then given a packing list and sent back to my unit to collect up my things.

Upon getting back, another guy and I informed DS T that we are going to the Infirmary. His response was “Enjoy your vacation.” We got our things and left. The Infirmary had this really weird depressed inside. I felt like I had walked into a slow scene from “One who flew over the coos nest.” There’s bunks, a TV with movies constantly playing, some tables and a nurse there to baby sit us. The rules are simple. You can sleep, read, write, shower, watch a movie, and EAT whenever you want except when chow does come. I took a nice long nap after lunch and read “Boots on the Ground” the rest of the day. It’s been a decent book so far discussing the 82nd Airborne and their invasion of Iraq in 2003. Lights out is 2200. I didn’t think I was going to need the sleeping bag I brought. Man was I wrong. The air in that building got down to the mid to low 60s overnight.

BCT Day 24 Saturday 5/28/11
MIN Field Trip

I have had enough of the Infirmary. I know I was scheduled 48 hrs. but I was told I could leave after 1 day should I choose. I felt like I am wasting time and just needed some sleep the previous day. There were shirkers in the place that said there was nothing wrong with them, but they did not want to clean up with their PLT during the last week or two. I just wanted to get back to my PLT. Upon getting back to my unit, I found out our bay had been tossed again and that the company was going on a field trip to the Nation Infantry Museum (NIM) here at Ft. Benning. I got changed and ready just in time. The NIM just relocated in Feb. to this brand new $100 million building with a nice new graduation field. It is quite impressive after taking into account is from local donations. I am not going to try and describe the exhibits on here. At some point I will try to upload some pictures when I get out of jail…I mean BCT. After a few hours inside they had us eat MRES outside. I gave away most of my food because the there was too many calories. 

After getting back, we worked on cleaning the bay before dinner chow. After dinner chow, we had hydration formation. After HF, my PLT had to do CQ cleaning duties. After that, I had CQ duty for an hour. At some point during my shift, my PLT was given 20 mine phone calls. Of course my relief was 15 minutes late. However, I did get to make my 20 minute phone call and speak to my wife. Luckily everything is going well at home. It felt so good to speak to my wife after nearly 3 weeks for more than 5 minutes.
After one phone call, I had about 15 minutes to shower and try and start on straightening up my locker for Sunday’s first locker inspection. I had problems sleeping with the cough I had the whole night.

BCT Day 25 Sunday 5/29/11
Toby Keith Concert
After wakeup this morning, it was a frenzy of people trying to straighten our lockers. We really didn’t know what time the inspection was going to take place. What made it worse was that the PG decided his locker was to be the standard 30 minutes before formation WTF?!?Whatever.

After chow, our SDS did his inspection with the PG and squad leaders. For the most part there were a few items that everyone got wrong across the board. I just found it nice to finally know his standard. He also gave us an offer. At 1900 Monday, he will do another inspection for each item that is wrong in the PLT; he will take 1.5 minutes off of a 30 minute phone call for Memorial Day. Yippie Kay Yay!! I just hope we end up with more than 15 minutes. At about 1045, the CQ DS called a short notice HF. Evidently, someone called a bomb threat. So our movement and activity will be limited. Also, he seemed to think that the Toby Keith concert may be canceled as well. We all hope not.

I went to mass and got back around 1700. We formed up and left around 1800 for the Toby Keith concert. It was a good time for most of the guys due to the pizza, ice cream, Italian ice, and half dressed women. What was bummer was the fact that Toby Keith didn’t even start playing till about 2125 and we had to form up to leave at 2145. We got about 2 ½ songs in before leaving. We marched back where we had one guy pass out and a few fevers. We’ll see how they feel tonight.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

6th Letter

This post took me a while because Keith's letter is about 20 pages long.

BCT Day 12- Monday 5/16/2011

We had formation at 0600. We were suppose to meet our transit buses for our leadership resource course at 0630, and eat breakfast at the range. However, the civilian transporters screwed up and sent our buses to another company. So we headed back to the CTA (Company Area) and had breakfast. They then  marched us down the road about 1 1/2 mile to a different course. I think the DSs were a little disappointed because the original course had water for us to fall into when we fell off an obstacle.

The course was fairly fun even though my team never fully completed a task.The DSs were a little angry about something. We kept having to get down and push for so many dumbasses. The weather was chilly. At one point it rained in the afternoon and it was cold. If I buy the DVD, I will post video from the event. Basically, all of the obstacles were about a team trying to get over a bridge that had been destroyed while trying to get a piece of important equipment or casualty across in 25 minutes. The day did not end on a good note though. DS T and another DS from 1st platoon decided that 1st and 3rd platoon needed more training on first and casualty evacuation. This meant that we had to do fireman carries, neck carries, and single person carries up a hill. It was insanely tiring. DS T then surprised the hell of of us by sitting and BS'ing with us for a half hour. We then showered and went to bed.

BCT Day 13 5/17/11
Confidence tower

We got up to find that it was a bit chilly, but it warmed up a little bit. We then got our assault packs loaded up and marched down to the confidence tower. This course involves rappelling and various maneuvers across certain rope configurations about 30 feet in the air.

The rope course involved moving across two ropes, one for the feet and one for the arms. That was probably the hardest one. After that you have to move across one thick rope on your stomach. That was though towards the end because it was riding one area between my legs and press against my chest. I started telling myself that I was doing it for my wife. The XO thought that was cool and started asking more questions. He even asked me what the square root of 36 was when I was still on the rope. I answered "6 sir." He said
"alright warrior, drive on."

The third part involved one rope for the feet and two for the arms, that was fairly easy. After that they then had us climb down a cargo net that was about 40 feet up. I had problems with that because I tried to go down too far. We then had chow UPU, your pick it up, which is a delivered chow line. After chow, I got to be the second person in the line for the rappeline. I was really nervous till I got to the top and saw DS T there to make sure I went down. He was pretty cool actually. The hardest was putting all my weight and faith on the rope and hardware.After my first jump I started jumping and having fun with it. Most people myself included, wanted to go and do it again. Then, chilled out for about 2 hours waiting for the rest of the people to finish.We then marched back and did chow. We got a few minutes to shower and go to bed.

Wednesday 5/18/11 BCT Day 14

FTX1/Night Infiltration

The morning started out very chilly. I think it was in the late 30s. It was made worse by the DSs telling us to alter our uniforms to at least Cat 5 (some heat measurement system her at FT. Benning) This means we had to roll up our sleeves and pant legs. Everyone was shivering. We stood there for about 30 minutes before marching out. We marched 20 minutes and came to this field on the edge of these woods. We then had to form up security formations and watch for any breaches in security. My platoon sat there for about 3 hours before moving to any classes and testing. The test were a part of our testing out of red phase.

First we had to show a DS that we could fix a malefaction with a rifle with he "Sport" method and do a functions check. After that we then went and were shown and tested on how to clear a room with a 4 person squad. Pretty fun and easy to pick up.

We came back to eat on lunch, which happen to be our first issued MRE's I got this beef patty with Mexican macaroni...not that special. After the MRE, we had to sit and run security some more. The company commander came around and did his version of a greet. I had my head down and was actually aiming when he came around. I popped my head up when I saw him looking. He said,
you better not be fucking sleeping." I forgot to mention that earlier in the week he came around at the team exercise and was chit chatting with people. He saw my SPC rank and asked if I was OCS? I said "No sir." He then said that he was about to "fuck me up" when he looked at my uniform. Evidently, I put the patches on backwards in a haste that morning. FML!! Oh well.

After some more security, we went and did some testing on our pro-mask (gas mask), first aid, and some group firing movements up a hill. The gas mask sucked because it still had cs gas remnants on it and caused my face to burn for 10 minutes. First aid was easy because we had a combat medic train us. The firing movements was fun, nothing to complain about it.

After that, we marched back to the CTA and ate dinner chow outside. After that we then loaded up our gear and got on some buses to head to a night infiltration course range. I was looking forward to hit and was not really nervous at all. What was funny was some of the DSs asked who was seared. Some very wide eyed privates raided their hand. (BuZZZZ) Wrong answer. The DSs then said "alright, Ill be right behind yo ass to make sure you go." There really isn't anything to worry about because any live fire (which real rounds are being fired) is flying at least 15 feet above our head. They also fire a flare up in the air. At that point you have to stop whatever your doing, no matter what position and stay completely still. I consider that to be the 20-30 second break because you have to be the low crawl about 100 yards across this range. What made it difficult was that  towards the end, my eye- pro started fogging up bad and I couldn't see anything at all. The DSs then did some more yelling at us to get our crap and go. We packed our stuff and waited for our trans (buses). During this time, people were complaining because of their assault packs. I couldn't believe how pissy people were being. We happen to have an E-5 (sergeant) in our platoon for OCS. He was pissed too. He explained that he was at FT Benning 12 yrs ago. They had their heavier ruck sacks, their IBA's (flack jacket), old dark color BDU's (the former camos), black leather boots, and a few other things. It's a new Army, sergeant.

We came back, had some pep talk fro our reservist DS. Evidently, this week we got 4 DSs from a reserve unit for two weeks. The one for our platoon is pretty cool. However, the first day they were being stealthy and sneaking up on us in formation and scaring us. I had one correct my hands for attention and tell me "I'll blow your shit up if you don't get your shit together, private." We then showered and went to bed. What sucked was I had fireguard from 0300-0400. It was very difficult not to fall asleep. I had to wake my relief up twice. The second time wasn't so subtle.

BCT Day 15 Thursday 5/19/11
Land Navigation/Radio Communication

We woke up at a decent time. I don't remember what time because...I was dead. Waking up is the worst part about being here. That is the common consensus in the bay too. Part of it for me is the fact that I am not waking next to my wife. This whole experience is rearranging my priorities in life. I no longer have the urge to get on facebook, my phone, or both. It has also made me appreciate handwriting my communication rather than typing it, or texting. I'm sure after graduation , that will disappear though.

They had us load up our FLC vests and assault packs. These assault packs usually have about 30-40lbs in them at any given time' not too heavy. We then marched about 1.5 miles to this location where we learned how to use and communicate on an Army radio. We also learned how to call in a 9 line MEDEVAC. I won't go into delta, for reasons.

After the Radio class, they marched up another 1.5-2 miles uphill to the land navigation range. It was disappointing to see so many people falling out at such a slow pace with so little equipment. However, that chilly air has been replaced by 80's and 90's weather. Oh well, hopefully they will get stronger.

We got into the range and formed up for lunch chow with UPU. After chow, we formed up for teams to navigate the range and find 3 points on the map. I looked back behind me to see who was on my team and smiled to see the OCS E-5 who has done 3 tours in Iraq. This wasn't because he could do the work, but if I got lost, he could fix it , especially with me being selected at team leader for the event. SGT Ski (the E-5) gave us a few pointers for finding our points. The biggest idea was to follow roads to find our points rather than traversing in a straight line through thick woods. A lot of people did it and about 50% of the company failed or No go'ed the event . We found all three points with a little time to spare.

After we got back, we waited and then had dinner chow via UPU again. After chow, we formed up in the same teams again and were briefed on night navigation. However, they had us start around 1830 and gave us only about 2 hrs to complete before it got dark makes sense right? They gave us 5 points to find and used the compass predominately with this exercise.
We found the first 3 points with out too much struggle. However, our 4 points were questionable and didn't feel like finding the 5th point with it being 870 meters away. We guessed the number and headed back. We felt pretty confident with the first 3 points and that is what we needed to pass.

We got back and turned our answers in and found out we got a Go with 3/5. Yay. We waited for the DSs to round up the people who were lost and could find their points or way back. Evidently, we waited too long to march back and rode back on some trans.

We got back and got a pep talk from DS Kat (Our temporary reserve DS). We seem to like him. I like that he calls us "crazy" instead of "fucker" or "retard." It's also odd for me to realize I am the same age as him, 25, and he acts so much older than his real age. We then showered and went to bed. It was nice because I had no fireguard. I actually laid down and went to sleep a half hour before lights went out.

BCT Day 16  Friday 5/20/11
IED Training Day

I forgot to mention that this week that the DSs have been doing PRT with us in the morning. Nothing wrong with that, but we have been doing it in our ACU's to save time. I love this because we start the day off all sweaty and grimy in our uniform [Insert sarcastic tone]. Oh well.

They had us march about 2.25 miles uphill. It was a decent pace that had me sweating and thinking of home. We did have one kid passout, but he's ok.

We got to the range and spent about the next 8 hours learning about IEDs for OPSEC reasons, that is all I will say. We did get a tip form one of our IED instructors on getting caught sleeping by a DS. If you are caught sleeping or halfway asleep and a DS  swaps at you, bless yourself and pick your head up as if were praying. I don't plan on doing it, but I thought it was amusing.

We then marched back at a very slow pace. Someone even passed out then too. I guess the heat here gets to some people. They were ok, I guess. After our hydration formation, all but one DS disappeared and we got about an extra hour of personal time to try and catch up on this journal. I then went to sleep about a half hour early.

BCT Day 17 Saturday 5/21/11

The day was pretty chill compared to the fast pace of this week. Evidently, we are moving through basic really fast. I was talking with another company before they graduated, they said that we are just blowing through all of our training courses compared to them. The first would confirm the rumor that our cadre is trying to get us done early as to graduate us prior to July 4th, rather than July 7th. SGT Ski said it would make sense because of the leave involved for the cadre at the company and dealing with us. We would more than likely get a 3 to 4 day pass to be out of their hair. My other theory is that so many people are getting injured and sick, or failing courses, they are trying to build in time buffers to allow people to heal up and retake tests. I just want a confirmation on the dates if they do change. 

The day involved our platoon and another platoon working on more Army combatatives and detailing techniques. We had to hold off someone they came at us. I ended up getting this big guy with a head length over me. I held him off me for a bit and then he bowed up on me and I lost my stance and fell back on my rifle. It was kind of fun.

After that we were given time to go and work on our laundry and go get money from the ATM for concert tickets to the Toby Keith concert on May 29th. Evidently, we are allowed to go and eat pizza and soda. I plan on just to get away from the CTA and enjoy a little bit of country I do like.

About the ATM machine, I forgot to mention the previous day that I realized that I had $60 stolen from my wallet during the past few days. I was stupid and never wrote down the serial numbers like the DSs told us to do on Day 1. So I didn't even bother bringing it to the DSs attention. I was so angry.  It really breaks my trust level with everyone in my platoon because they had to be very sneaky. I very rarely leave my locker open except to run to the bathroom. It was very demotivating.

After chow, the same two platoons marched over the EST (Electronic Shooting Training) buildings. Here we started practicing on the machine I mentioned previously, but on a bigger scale. Our platoon finished quicker than any other platoon. In fact, we finished quicker than any platoon that the technician has had come through. This means we grouped and zeroed our shots in little time. It only took me one turn. This left us with a boat load of time. Our DSs decided to have us clean rifles and pass out mail. I finally got some mail from my wife. Evidently, she is not writing "A Co. 2-47" in the address and its delaying when I receive it. So if anyone wants to mail me anything here, please us this address:

SPC Keith Miller, RN: 309
A. Co. 2-47 IN
5375 Hauson Dr.
Ft. Benning GA 31905-4930

I will write back to anyone ASAP should I receive anything.

After dinner chow, we formed up for hydration formation where we then lined up to buy tickets to see Toby Keith. I'm a little bit of a fan, but I really want time away from the CTA

We just so just so happened to get woken up at 2200 and to be dressed in our ACUs and formed up at 2215. We had the privilege of going to cheer on a company from a totally different battalion as they came back from their last FTX, thus signify the end of training. As it happened, we marched over their to find out they wouldn't be back for another 1.5 hours. The DSs messed with us and said we would go back to our bays for 1 hour and go back. The DS then said "no, someone else can wake up." I then went back to sleep promptly after chewing some people out for talking or screwing around.

BCT Day 18- Sunday 5/22/11

Not as relaxing as I had hoped. We finally were able to start doing laundry on our own, in our own laundry room. We have had difficulties with laundry because of sewage back ups in our septic lines. We have been using a few people to wash our clothes, but that resulted in people losing a variety of items, me included. I finished some laundry and worked most of my time on this journal to catch up. I have been motivated ever sine receiving and reading my wife's letters and pictures that were scented with her perfume. Very uplifting.

We were enjoying peace and quiet till DS T came in and informed us that our platoon had company duty this week. He then went out to explain that meant we are in charge of setting up the ranges, and ice sheet coolers, and other items for the next week. He then went on to have prep equipments for the next week. After we were done, we disappeared.

Overall, life here has not been as bad as I though it was going to be. It must be because our company is not infantry. The smoking's here have been...crap. The recruiters were tougher on PT than the PRT crap. It certainly is a new Army. The DSs have to pay attention to anything they say that might offend someone. There are very little racial jokes or remarks. There are people being called fat and bacon though.

We had lunch chow and I was able to finish my laundry. I was able to finish my letters as well to my wife. I would like to try and write one to my parents here son, but training has been fast paced.

At 1430, I got downstairs to wait for a DS to take us to mass. However just before 1500 (which when mas is scheduled) we found a DS and he told us to just march ourselves down ourselves. ok. We got there on time. It was an interesting mass. We had two brothers who got to be baptized, received holy communion, and confirmation at mass.

After mass, I got to chow just in time. After chow all of the platoons got setup for some pictures in the CTA. It will probably be on the FB fanpage for 2-47. My platoon is the platoon with the green strips of tape. After that, we had a DS, who I'd like to call DS cajun, smoke us and have us stand at parade rest for about 30 minutes. This because of the stupidity of a few people throughout the company. He said this shows we are not ready for white phase. We then went to our bay and had some discussion about our issues. Our biggest problem is that there are few people who cannot get along with each other. It's so annoying, I don't understand why some of these personalities can't eat a slice of humble pie and straighten out their ego.

After that we had another DS come in and take people's temperatures to find out that they had a fever. The DS then chewed us out for being sick and having to take them to the ER. [Insert sarcasm]. Don't these people know health care for soldiers is free because we are not suppose to have access to without criticism. We then had a bleach drill and one of our quitter got in a fight with someone for taking his number off the fireguard schedule. I will now go shower and bleach something.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

5th Letter

BCT Day 7 5/11/11
The morning was just delightful…not! Sick call was scheduled to be lined up at 0500. I got there on time. I was there for my knee and my chest crud. The company XO came by and asked each person what was wrong with them and why they had to go that day, the day of the AGR. I told him I was coughing up blood the day before and his response to me was “How about today?” I told him not much better. He shrugged and walked away. I then got more flak from another DS because he had me down for my knee and I could have gone and seen the athletic trainer, and avoid a profile. I explained that I had no idea. He then threw his clip board down and walked away. He then led us into a room and said that another DS would be with us soon to take us to sick call. We waited there for more than 45 minutes! Finally a DS came in and escorted us to the clinic. After getting into the clinic and checking in, my treatment as being sick go to be a lot nicer. I was seen fairly quickly. The nurses told me and a bunch other guys from my company were dehydrated and ordered us to get two bags of saline IV’s. I also got an X-Ray because I might have had pneumonia. The X-ray came back negative, but they think I might have had it and got through it ok. The two bags of saline felt nice though. It did help my knee feel a little bit better though. Luckily they gave me a meal kit for lunch and had to wait for a DS to come and pick me up.

 Luckily, I got back in time for my platoon to start first aid training. I thought I was going to be missing the class and read ahead in our instruction book. It just made it easier for me to follow along we basically went to different bays for different classes where the DS were being pretty funny with us. The Asian DS who pronounces splint as sprint even wrote sprint to be funny. The DS was the one that had us in tears. Every slide had a sexual joke for each slide. We were discussing tubes, mouths, and throats. I will keep the decency of my journal by not mentioning any quotes. 

After that, DS T was pretty cool with us and we got a lot of extra free time. Also, the fireguard at night (including me) had to be on alert for the DS on duty that night to be sneaking in and trying to take our rifles.
My shift was 0100-0200. As I was walking around, I heard a key in our back door. I stood back in a shadow by the door and waited. He slowly opened the door and creped in and let the door close quietly. He creped right by me and then I asked, “What can I help you with DS?” He spun around and said “Damn private you’re good” and walked out. My ninja traits finally kicked in.

BCT Day 8 5/12/11
Not a very eventful day. I am feeling a lot better and so is my knee. I did get a profile saying I would run at my own pace for a week, but I did not let that give me an excuse to wimp out on my training. My cough is mostly dry with no more green crud…yay!!

We had PRT at 0615. We did the prep exercises and for the core, and condition up drill 2. Easy stuff till the DSs had us do as many push-ups and sit ups as possible in 30 seconds about 8 times each. I am proud to say that I am one of the few people not to put my knee down here since I got here. “A little heart privates.” After that we had chow. It sucked because we had loads of sand all over us from outside and got in our food. Luckily we get free dental because we might grind out teeth that way. 

We then got to change our shirts and get ready for land navigation class. The class was more of a review because I didn’t in high school and online with the FS site. It was hard not to fall asleep though, holy crap! The rest of the day got opened to personal time for the most part because some briefs from brigade staff for us got canceled. The tone has certainly chilled a little since last week. However, there are times when the DSs do snap when people screw up on the little things that they should know.
I started using the meds the clinic gave me; light pain reliever, nasal spray, mucinex, throat lozenge, calcium supplement and pain reliever cream.

BCT Day 9 5/13/11 Confidence Course!
I did not have to do fireguard or CQ duty somehow last night, so I was able to sleep through the night somewhat. I seem to remember jumping out of my bed and snapping to parade rest for a DS. I don’t know if I was dreaming or if there was really a DS. Oh well. 

We had chow and cleaned the bay before showing up for formation. I don’t know what it is about the humidity here, but I just start sweating and my eye protection fogs up like nothing.

We then moved over to the German wall. This is a series of walls that a squad has to figure out how to get the group over. My squad went first and finished the fastest we then moved to what they call “the skyscraper.” This is a wooden 4 or 5 structure with ladders or stairs. I thought this was going to be the hardest station. Actually, it was probably the easiest and quickest station. We were supposed to do a 4th station but the officers double booked our courses for the day. We were supposed to get to do the rappelling tower too but that got postponed as well. Overall, I didn’t know what to expect from the confidence course. It was a lot of fun and built more teamwork skills among everyone.

We then marched back. I was disappointed to see people not being able to stay in formation for 15 minutes with just our rifles. We had 3 guys slow down and not really care. I don’t know what they will do when we load up our full battle uniforms. We got back, had our chow outside. They then had us change into out PTs and do some count. We then loaded into our bay for a classroom on tactical soldier recovery. It was going well till the DS saw so many people dozing off. He then yelled and told us to go downstairs and for up. Everyone thought we were getting smoked. Turns out he had us setup a scenario outside and do teams to practice the lesson. I think we realized this would keep us engaged and awake. We then loaded into our bay again for a class on staying clean and healthy. The laughs came with the STD jokes. 

We then had to do a bleach drill. This is where we take bleach and wipe it on all visible surfaces. This meant to help stop the spread of the illnesses flying around the bay.
I had fireguard duty from 2200-2300. Not too bad of a shift. I wanted to go to sleep so badly, but made myself walk the bay to prevent falling asleep. I basically slept the rest of the night. I did wake up at 0400 instead of 0430. My sleep cycle is starting to sync for a 0400 wake up.

BCT Day 10 5/14/11
First official Army performance fitness test. Formation was for 0515 to start the push ups and sit-ups. I did 44 push ups. This was more than my requirement for basic and AIT. The last 5 or so were for my wife. I did 52 sit-ups. This is 15 more than what I needed for BCT and AIT. We then had to do the 2 mile run. I debated on not running because I’m on profile and my breathing is not back to where I wanted. I decided to do it and try my best. The road was somewhat flat and the weather was cool and moist, so it felt good. I did alright for the first mile, but during my 2nd mile, I started coughing and hacked up blood again like I did back on Tuesday. I was able to trudge along to finish line for a 17:45. That is 15 seconds above what I needed to pass BCT. I was a little annoyed. The DSs then had us run back to the company area. 8 people including me fell out of formation. It just to be too much after the other 2 miles. The DSs then yelled at the people who fell out and took their roster numbers. The DS did remember that I was profiled and marked it down.

They then tried to stretch us out, but people were having problems remembering the sequences and that pissed DS T so much that he smoked us for about 10 minutes and degrading, firing, and screaming at people.  After he was done, we ate chow outside. After chow, we went inside to change into our ACUS and start a more in depth bleach drill. We took everything out of our lockers and cleaned the inside of the lockers. After that we took all of the lockers out to the middle of the bay and mopped under the beds and lockers. This too was a team building exercise. The problem with this bay is that there are people who want to take church when it is not their place. I'm usually the person that ends up explaining why they are wrong. We also have the egos with a chip on their shoulder. One kid has had little altercations with multiple people in the platoon. He wanted to get into a fight with me, even after I kept walking away. And people were pulling him away. He is a very sensitive, short tempered person and he is going to learn that the hard way more likely. We got called down to go and watch this interactive movie called “True loyalty and Allegiance. It’s a 3 part series for the next 3 weeks following a kid around and explaining the consequences of his actions in the army. Bad acting and easy decisions.

After that, we did more cleaning and had personal time from 1600 till about 2100. I guess we started and finished our bleach drill early. Also all but one DS left for the night. I guess they will be refreshed tomorrow and Monday. Oh well. 

BCT Day 10 5/15/11

Today was my first relaxed Sunday since even before I left for BCT. We woke up just before 0600 and formed up at 0615! We then went to chow. What’s nice now is that the DSs have allowed the PG’s to control the platoons to chow, with some minor monitoring by the DSs.
After chow, the DS told us we need to clean the bay till 0800, and after that “you so play with your ding-a-lings.” Everyone thought it was funny which I said that it was a direct order to go and masturbate.
We then just sat around writing, talking, napping (if you don’t get caught), working out, or anything to pass the time till they go to mass. At 0900, I had CQ shift for an hour. The DSs are definitely mellower on Sundays. I just hope no one screws up and the DSs decide to make us pay tomorrow.
On a side note, PVT whiney really screwed up last night. Evidently, last Sunday, he got caught buying a Gatorade and some candy at church. They gave him a second chance. Next, he got his article 15 at the obstacle course. I mentioned previously. Last night, he decided he needed to make a call badly. So bad that he got into the DSs room and stole some other persons IPhone. Someone realized that there was a phone somewhere. The E-5 in that platoon decided to talk to him. PVT Whiney was fixing his pant leg, the charger fell out. As he was going for his locker, he darted out of the platoon and outside where he ran for the woods and tossed the phone. The guys did get him. With his attempt for AWOL, there now has to be two more people on fireguard duty to watch him at night. Id hat to say it, but I called it the first night here when I first met him. I’m curious if he will get more than Article 15 for theft.

We went to lunch chow and did more of the same till about 1400 when our SDS decided to do more training and Drill and ceremony (DNC) and the rifle. I didn’t get to do a lot of the rifle because I had to leave for mass.We actually go to mass on time at 1500 and sat waited till almost 1600 before mass. I guess confessions are long and the priest said that mass doesn’t actually start till 1530. Whatever. I have never seen a priest hold a mass so quick. The DS didn’t want to come back and had us march back on our own. We got back in time for chow and to help my platoon with the company cleaning duties. Also, one of the guys on our platoon fainted and needed an ambulance. I don’t know what’s up, we will find out tomorrow.
Wow I need to finish this letter to mail and start on my assault pack for tomorrow’s leadership course (LRC). Evidently we will get dirty. We will see how much.