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"Letters from Basic, 3"

[written January 11, 2003]

20 May 02: Thanks for the letters! I get a little homesick after reading them, but they motivate me and make me feel loved.

It's funny -- a lot of the guys here are young, but a few are newly married and are just finding out they're going to be fathers. My battle buddy (bunkmate) is newly married (6 days before basic) and found out today his wife's pregnant. Mormons! And he's 18! Wow. It's a weird group of people here. Some have no discipline -- talking in formation and all that. Disrespecting D.S.'s gets you in deep shit fast. And like I said, they don't kick you out, they transfer you to another company for "rehabilitation". Oh, by the way: Company = 4 Platoons, Platoon = ~36 People, 4 Ranks of 9 People.

Tomorrow we do Warrior Tower, which consists of rappelling off a sheer face wall. I'm not scared, just worried I'll get yelled at for not doing the knots on my rope basket fast enough. I seem to be slow in picking stuff up, as I think I wrote before.

Our D.S., D.S. Eisch, was yelling up and down today. Even though we got the 1st sergeant's inspection banner for clean barracks, we had like 10-15 girls go on sick call today for various injuries. The attrition rate is high but the males are holding on, few as we are. Did I tell you we get in deep shit if we just touch females here? "Fraternization". You can get an article 15 for it, or a transfer. AR15's are permanent slips of paperwork. Anyway, D.S. Eisch likes to call all the sick/hurt people the motorized injured brigade. All the crutches!

Later this week we do the gas chamber. That'll be a trip. I think we also do a class on marksmanship, where we take our rifles to the range and dry fire, or practice shooting without ammo. I'm worried about messing up with the rifle or passing qualification. Luckily Lopez is an expert shooter, the best mark you can get. He said he'd give me tips. Imagine hitting a target at 300 meters! I also worry about accidentally aiming a weapon at a D.S. or something. They take that very seriously. They say it's the only time they can legally kick your ass.

We had our heads shaved Sunday. Every 3 weeks. [05/21/02] Today we went to Warrior Tower, which consisted of one round of rappelling and one of a climbing course. I did rappelling first. You get a rope basket tied digging into your hips around your butt cheeks, and around the family jewels. We climbed approximately 75ft up and rappelled down a sheer face wall. I did fine! Wasn't scared. Excited! I got down the wall in 5-6 jumps, which was good. You have to extend your back hand out to get slack, all while perpendicular to the wall. Then you bounce down. Then we had MREs (Meals Ready to Eat), my first one. It was good. The cheese tortellini was heated using some compound that mixes with water to create instant heat. My chemistry knowledge is bad -- is it magnesium or something? Also got crackers with peanut butter, apple sauce, some cocoa with juice powder mix. Delicious. I should buy some when I get home.

The course was easy. Climb up a lumber wall using a rope, do a rope swing at the top, climb down a cargo net, climb up a lumber ladder, do three rope bridges: one is three ropes, one is one rope, one is two. You slide on the top of the one rope, use the three roped one by holding the two hand ropes, and hold the top rope while walking on the bottom rope for the last. A lot of people were scared of heights but everyone did it. Some cried. Our crazy D.S. jumped down the rappelling wall to show off. Crazy infantry guys are the most die-hard D.S.s And 2 out of 3 of our D.S.s are infantry!

Our usual day: wake up for an hour at night to do fire guard where you stand in the hall counting people in bunks. At 4-4:30, we get up, make our bunks to military standard, shave, etc. before morning formation. We usually do some exercise (like today we ran in our assigned groups) -- my B group was okay except for uphill wind sprints, but I saw the A group sprinting and doing fireman carries and crazy shit. I heard D.S. Eisch blew past everyone because he's a hardcore fast motherfucker. We come back, shower, dress in BDUs, go to chow. Classes or whatever all day. 3 healthy meals a day, lots of food if we have time (I'm pissed because we've been last to eat lately -- less time, often food has run out so we get scraps). Oh, we usually get about 6 hours of sleep a night. It's nice. They're not all bad here. We get dinner. D.S.s clear up bidness and pass out mail. At 8 we shower, shine boots, make our wall lockers neat, and clean clean clean. I'm writing this in the latrine after lights out. Not much time to write! Then sleep, and repeat. We're almost to white phase (weeks 4-6) so they'll lighten up more. Weapon firing is going to be the main focus soon. I'm enjoying it here, but I miss everyone reading this.



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