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"Letters from Basic, 5"

[written January 11, 2003]

June 3, 2002: Got a bunch of letters from you guys today. It was like Christmas morning! Because of the day off for Memorial Day, our mail piled up to a whole crate for the whole platoon.

Okay, so since I last wrote, I think we were just about to complete Red Phase (Phase I) so here's the latest: I did much much better on the first PT test than on my diagnostic. I went from 27 to 47 pushups, 63 to 73 situps (80 something is the max) and 14:01 mins on the 2 mile to 13:40. So I passed by a lot this time. The next 2 PT tests should be easier, especially after the smokings we got since we entered the "easier" White Phase. My score was 251, which was almost as high as Lopez's (ex-Marine) and Hawke's (our Platoon Guide). Max is 300 (100/event) although you do get extra points if you go over max. Females always get the highest score because their push-ups and run max out at lower counts/times. So if there's a really strong girl, she can easily score over 300-350.

We started BRM. Firing live rounds with an M16A2 is fun but our D.S.s are in hardcore mode right now because they want us all to qualify next Saturday. My first time out was grouping: you shoot 3-round bunches and try to get them all in a small circle. I did great; was one of the first to group. Next day (I might add it's about 7-9 hours in the baking, humid 90-100 degree Missouri summer heat) was not as good. This time we had to do the same thing as grouping but the D.S.s would adjust our weapons so the rounds would go in perfectly. (everyone is likely to aim in one place but their rounds likely hit elsewhere, which is why you have to zero) I didn't zero in 4 tries! It royally sucked. But I think it was because my sandbags weren't high enough. We sit lying down on our stomachs, supporting the weapon on our hands while resting on elbows. Very painful. Tomorrow I try to zero again, trying to do it properly with my adjustments. Wish me luck! If we don't qualify Saturday, we get recycled back 2 weeks. So I can't fail! Most people on the ranges fall asleep because they're so exhausted. Then the D.S.s yell at them.

We will be outside at ranges ALL week w/ angry D.S.s yelling at us to "listen more". Yeah, if all I had to do was listen and follow instructions, wouldn't I be doing it instead of incurring D.S. wrath?

Yesterday after dinner chow (immediately) we got smoked. Pushups, situps, leg lifts, knee benders (bend down, touch ankles, back straight x 200), etc. Was hurting. Morning PT consisted of close-hands, regular, wide-arm, and deltoid (put butt in air, drop down like pushup). At least it makes us stronger. But we have quitters in our company and platoon who make us end up doing extra exercises. Suck it up and push! The other night we came out after lights out because some dumb girl gave a false fire guard report to a first sergeant.

I'm in Alpha run group now as a result of my PT test run time. It's tough. D.S. Eisch (who just got promoted to E-7, Sergeant First Class and will leave to Delta Co. AFTER we graduate, luckily) runs like the wind, makes us do fireman carries, sprints, frog jumps uphill (ugh!) and we do it all again tomorrow!

At least basic is now HALFWAY OVER! WOO! Hmm, well, almost.

07 June 02: Today is the first day of the fifth week. Midway through this week will be the halfway point. Anyway, I ran out of time to write before so I'll continue now, the night before BRM qualification. By the way, I have two nights off from fire guard and cleaning duty, plus it overlaps the weekend! The other day we did unarmed combat. D.S. Eisch taught the company the Army's new style, which is jujitsu. We learned the different mounts, chokeholds, wrist snaps, and so on. Then platoons fought each other! Our platoon's females kicked butt. Guerra (appropriate name!) even won the females' heavyweight fight at the end. She is fierce! But only 3 of our 13 males won. One was Lopez, the ex-Marine. He got beat in the middleweight fight by Lane, who was a guy I hung with at Reception Battalion. He is 98XL, passed the AAAT exam like I did, and is going to DLI too. We will probably arrive at the same time. Oh, he was actually from Dallas too. I flew out to St. Louis with him. We'll definitely keep in touch. Anyway, Clay won too. He did a fancy reverse move on the other guy and rotated his legs in the air to pin the opponent. The third male to win? Me! I went out fierce and everyone got pumped up after I put on a warface and stomped up our line. I drew some short guy but they pulled him back for a guy my height. I think he was taller, but thinner. We grappled at first but I kept my legs out to retain control over him and not get flipped. Everyone was chanting. Then I worked on him. Then I locked his legs out by wrapping mine around him and locking my feet under his knees. Then I sprung backwards with hum so he was choked and pinned on his back on top of me. He tapped out because he was done and everyone cheered. I really didn't think I could win, but I slaughtered the guy. My battle buddy (we have to have our BB with us when we do things) Raisor was bragging about me. He's the mormon who just got married and is having a baby at the age of 18. Clay's g.f. had a miscarriage so he was bummed. Fucillo (girl who had the seizure) left the military. Walker the troublemaker got booted out. Gabriel, already sent to us from another platoon, got caught with peanut butter from the DFAC in the latrine. We left D.S. Eisch's weapon outside while doing canteen drills (reposition the rifle in the prone position with a canteen on the barrel) so he basically disowned us. He was embarrassed by us and I feel terrible. D.S. Conn had duty today and seemed sort of upbeat after D.S. Eisch's news. My theory is D.S. Conn likes that we're scared shitless of him, and always act disciplined with him but not with D.S. Eisch. I think they have a little competition. Both are infantry but D.S. Eisch is a Ranger and a definite wildman so I think D.S. Conn is envious a bit.

Funny/Noteworthy: D.S. MacPherson: "Why you prahvets not movin' at a hagh rate of speed?" D.S. Pruett: "You did what?! GOOD NIGHT!" D.S. Conn: "Ohhh my GOODNESS!" "HURREH UP PRAHVEHTS!" "That's not the STANDUHRD, PRAHVEHTS." "Shut your mouwowths and open your ears." Don't move at attention. Put your toes against the baseboard in chow line. Go to parade rest when talking to NCOs. Yes, Drill Sergeant. No, Drill Sergeant. BRM qualification tomorrow. Read smaller notes next.

06 June 02: Good news! I had practice firing for our final BRM qualification tomorrow and I passed with 27! You need 23/40 to qualify. I think 23/30 is marksman, 31-35 sharpshooter, 36-40 expert. But considering I've been failing to pass at all the ranges this week (my weapon not even zeroed to center), I'm happy. I was the only one in the platoon not to zero and one of the few to suck it up all week. We're all getting better though. Tomorrow we try to qualify so the D.S.s are being very uptight and trying to keep us focused. I need to do the same thing tomorrow as today. We've been sitting at ranges all week. The day consists of riding the cattle truck way out to another part of base, sitting and waiting to fire, getting in trouble because others won't stop talking (hold your rifle above your head), firing at targets that pop up at 50m, 150m, 200m, 250m, 300m, or something, down a long grassy range. The targets are plastic green figures that the D.S.s call Ivan or another stereotypical foreign name. The rest of the day we clean our weapons or sit and watch. I've been cleaning and scraping carbon and oil off my bolt carrier group and upper receiver so much my hands are constantly grimy. But soldiers are supposed to be dirty, right? We fire in two positions: foxhole supported (sitting in a foxhole, left hand supported by sandbags) and prone unsupported (lying in dirt supporting yourself only with elbows). 20 rounds each. We can hear automatic machine gun sounds, grenades, and even A-10s overhead here, from other nearby ranges/practice training fields. I've been learning where to aim to hit different targets with each range we go to. I have to aim low on the foxhole but higher in the prone. The ranges aren't like they were in that "Boot Camp" book. The ranges are all new and fancy electronic shit. Poor privates don't have to sit out in the field and change targets anymore. You know, we don't even have kitchen duty here, one of the things prior recruits complain about. We have civilians serving our food. Only problem is civilians don't hurry like scared privates do; as a result, much of the food is gone by the time we get there! Anyway, basic is supposed to get easier after BRM. Supposedly, those who qualify tomorrow go on a "Free Day Away" for a Sunday of a long drive to a "religious" picnic without any D.S.s to celebrate the end of BRM. Basically, we use the phones, goof off, eat junk food, and get smoked hard when we return because the D.S.s know we'll have broken the rules. Oh well. It seems to be a tradition. I'll get Gatorade and sandwiches, even though I'll still get smoked. Integrity is one of the Army values, you know. =P


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