Basic Training: Week 3

April 21

I got my first gun wound.

Yeah, we were doing push-ups in formation because someone messed up, and someone kicked my gun into my hand and cut it up.

I forgive Maybell, of course. I love my weapon so much. I don't know, I've just really bonded with her.

Today there was another fight. It's always the same people and the same issues, and everyone else taking sides. It's so dumb.

I heard one of the girls yelling in the bathroom, from across the bay. I think I've yelled that loudly once in my entire life and I actually passed out. I couldn't see her, but you know her veins were popping out of her head.

She tried to attack Eversmann! Howe caught her last second. She punched a wall instead. It wasn't like me and Durant playing. It was really bad.

Afterwards, the bay was full of that tense silence after something bad happens. The girls from the other female bay walked in to pick me up for church and said, "Wow, your bay is so peaceful!" I died.

Yeah, it's been a rough day for Eversmann. The drill sergeant that graded her APFT called her a ho and gave her a zero just because she was a girl. He said, "Girls can't do push-ups" and didn't even watch her after that. Just said, "Zero. Zero. Zero." We filed a formal complaint and the senior drill sergeant graded Eversmann as she did the APFT again. She got more pushups than anyone, of course. She is a firefighter, after all. Her biceps are like the size of my head!

April 23

Yesterday was the Hammer, which is a 5-mile march with rucksacks and all the gear on. I gotta be honest, it was brutal. But I think if I had time to adjust my ruck a bit, it would have been fine.

Durant twisted her ankle real bad and now it's all swollen and purple and she drags it around like a zombie. Another one bites the dust. (It seems like everyone is on profile for injuries lately. My knees are starting to have issues, too.) I think graduating is just a game of Last Man Standing. Too many people have to get recycled, held over, or sent home for stress injuries because we're overworking ourselves with no time to recover.

Anyway, at the Hammer we had all these little classes to learn camouflage, tactical formations, tactical movements (low crawl, high crawl, 3-5 second rushes), etc. After that we ran through some pretend scenarios, like a mini mission, to practice everything we learned. Unfortunately, I died in the gas bombs every time. I can never get my gas mask on properly within 6 seconds.

I had to leave the Hammer early (everyone else camped out there) because I had an early morning follow-up appointment for my tuberculosis. Turns out, I don't even have tuberculosis. (For some reason my skin test at reception came back positive, so I had to go to the hospital with about a dozen other people who were TB-positive. They were all from South Africa, and there I was, the whitest person to walk the face of the planet, born and raised in the States. 😂)

We are officially in White Phase now. White Phase comes after Red Phase, but before Blue Phase. That means a lot of good things, but maybe one of my favorites is: Marching cadences. We weren't allowed to do them before, but we heard other companies doing them in the distance. It sounded cool, like thunder but actually it was hundreds of soldiers voices blended together.

We used to shout "War Eagles!" (our company motto) during final formation, and the ground would shake and the mountain would echo it back to us, and that was one of my favorite things. Marching cadences is like the next level. They're chants that keep you in step. The drill sergeants taught us some funny ones, and some of the trainees like to make them up, too. It's entertaining. Plus, it's awesome in a way I can't really explain to hear everyone's voices echoing together off the mountain like that.

April 24

We did the CoC (Confidence Course), which is basically a giant playground for grownups. It was like Fit to Win but more fun. There was a giant rope swing and everything.

Then at the end there was this competition between the platoons that was a big deal or something. Five people from each platoon (two females and three males) raced to scale these walls. There were a lot of rules. I was one of the five from my platoon. We won but got disqualified for some things.

Like how the males CHUCKED me over the first wall! They literally just picked me up and threw me over, which I was not expecting. I don't think they were expecting it either. Their adrenaline just kicked in. I felt like I was flying! Luckily someone caught me on the other side.

Anyway, it was my 6 minutes and 21 seconds of fame. Everyone was screaming our names when we came out and trying to get to us to give us high-fives or yell something to us, and the drill sergeants were holding them back. I felt like I was in a boy band.

I forgot to tell you, I was so tired the other day, I actually fell asleep with my eyes open. If you get caught doing an "extended blink," you're dead meat (unless you're the guy from 4th platoon who woke up with a drill sergeant staring at him, so he quickly said, "Amen" and got away with it) so I've trained myself to just stare forward without blinking when I don't trust myself to blink.

Next thing I knew, I was dreaming there was a big glass skyscraper in front of all of us, reflecting everyone. I was watching the reflections, when suddenly I jerked awake. Only my eyes were still open. The only thing that changed was the skyscraper left. When I realized I had been sleeping with my eyes open, I was a little bit impressed with myself. That's a life skill I can actually use.

April 27

Just in time to heal my broken body, Red Phase is over. My knees and arms were really getting messed up because we never had time to recover. We still do PT and get smoked, but not all day long.

Now our thing is guns. I mean "weapons". (We're not allowed to call them guns.) We went to the range to zero our weapons. Basically you just have to hit a target consistently enough (not necessarily accurately) that you can adjust your weapon to be somewhat accurate for you. I was hoping to be, I don't know, a born sniper. But I'm what they call "hardcore". Which sounds like a good thing, but actually means you suck.

The next day I thought I'd be better, but my first five shots I actually hit someone else's target! I really hope I was aiming for that one, at least. Finally I got zeroed. (They make sure everybody does, no matter how much time you have to spend there.) But I'm no sniper. ...Yet.

Today we were ahead of schedule and had absolutely nothing to do. So instead of letting us do laundry or organize our lockers (which need it badly) or practice one of the many drills we're supposed to practice but never have time for, our drill sergeants made us clean our weapons for 4+ hours.

Every time someone thought theirs was clean, they had to get it inspected. And every time, the drill sergeant said, "Not clean enough. 120 push-ups, go." I don't know why people kept lining up to get it inspected. You would think they would learn after the first 40 people. Almost Week 4 and people are still thinking there's some way you can be good enough to win the game.

The game is realizing you can't win and just learning to shut up and clean your weapon for 4 hours until the drill sergeants think of something else for you to do.


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