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"Letters from Basic, 2"

[written January 11, 2003]

Dear Mom and Dad,

May 18, 20:44: Got a little time to write since Saturday night and Sunday are laid back. Most of the D.S.'s have the latter part of the weekend off so we just clean the barracks and go to church. I'm staying here although I'd like to see a Buddhist service eventually. I'll help clean.

We got some transfer guy from another company who got dropped out because he got in a fight. He's here now and he's always getting in trouble. Really undisciplined. Left his hygiene bag out this morning. Our D.S., who inspects the barracks daily, took his bag and made "artwork" in the latrine and halls. Shaving cream on walls, foot powder everywhere, soap on the mirrors and walls. They're trying to keep us clean, apparently.

Discipline is the main thing here. People keep talking and getting smoked. We pissed off D.S. Russell (who tries to be pleasant) so she introduced us to "The Pit", where we did somersaults, low crawls, etc. in a big muddy pit. Our BDUs (Battle Dress Uniforms, that dark green camo stuff) were caked with mud. But she didn't have much time to make us hurt. D.S. Conn made us hurt on Monday. Ran in place with arms out, then drop periodically, do a pushup, then get right back up. After an hour, it really hurts.

We also had to hold our newly issued pain devices, M16A2s, above our heads for a whole march. My hand got numb.

Those are the interesting tales thus far. It isn't so bad so far. I'm still the smart guy with no common sense. I'm so slow at learning how to do things. I was good with learning the radio though. I'm just bad with equipment like packing rucksacks.

Thanks again for the newspaper clippings. Too bad about the Mavs. I had hopes they could take the Lakers. Please send 5 photos for me to tape up. I hear a few pictures will make locker inspections go faster because the D.S. or first sergeant will be looking at them.

I miss you all very much and wish I could be back with you, doing my crossword, watching MSNBC, and eating breakfast S L O W L Y.

We talked to some graduates of last cycle today. They're so disciplined. They said once you get past rifle marksmanship, it's much easier because BRM's the main emphasis here. Some Korean guy will probably get kicked out because he had a bad experience as a child seeing murders in Korea and refuses to hold an M16A2. Apparently he didn't know he'd have to do BRM to pass basic! We assume he'll be booted out as a conscientious objector soon. But it proves a point -- they stress here that you signed on the dotted line for this and so the fastest way out of basic is (oh, "boot camp" is Marine Core, not Army) to graduate in 9 weeks flat. Otherwise you just get rehabilitated over and over. Well, some girls cry and want to quit, and a bunch of girls ("females" here) got hurt on our first run. I was talking to an experienced fellow private here, Lopez, who went through Marine boot camp years ago and he was shocked at how hard they push these girls. Not that women can't do this, but recruiters pass people into the Army who aren't fit enough even at the beginning. It's irresponsible and causes a lot of females to get hip injuries. It's the #1 injury here, I'm told. And today some dumb people brought candy back from church, so we ALL got blown up -- on our "day off" no less! We went to The Pit and had to do low crawls (crawling on the ground, face pressed down), bear crawls (running on hands and feet) and neck grabs (dragging someone who is holding onto your neck under you while you bear crawl). Lopez dragged me but before I had to drag him (my thighs were dead already), people started failing left and right. Puking, collapsing, etc. It was fairly warm and sunny, but we'd just eaten. One girl in our platoon had a seizure. One guy in the company was puking. Like I said, many people weren't prepared for this, male or female. It's young, undisciplined kids being stressed and confused to the max.

I'm doing fine. I'm hungry a lot but mostly thirsty. Did I say that already?

The weather here is crazy. One day we're in the blustering cold with rain carrying rucksack and kevlar, the next we're sweating our asses off in full BDUs.


20 May 02: We went on a 3km road march today. It was easy, quiet, and cool temperature in the morning. Later we do 5km, 10km, and 15km marches.

Later we did a teamwork course consisting of tackling numerous obstacles as a squad. Our squad did 0 out of 6 of the obstacles. Too much bickering! We got the first banner of the company -- first sergeant barracks inspection! Woohoo, we were clean!


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