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The original inspiration for this blog was Brandon Mcguire's excellent account of his BCT and AIT experiences at, which I highly suggest you check out.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Update Time....Or That Time I Spent Four Months In Georgia Bored To Death

Well, not having internet access for the duration of my time at AIT really sapped my will to write. Even moreso, the monotonous routine of life in AIT took my motivation to keep posting updates in the few opportunities I had to borrow someone's wireless hotspot. Every day was the same essentially. Monday through Friday we would wake up around 0730, get dressed and head to PT formation which would leave for Barton Field (where we would conduct PT everyday) at 0815. About an hour or so later we would get back to the company and clean the barracks a bit and then shower. After that, around 1100, we would have free time till 1540 when we would have to go form up again for mail call and then head to dinner chow, which for us was really lunch. After eating chow, we would form up outside the DFAC and step off at around 1645 to go to Brant Hall where our classes were conducted. From 1700 till around 2300, we learned the basics of our jobs as 25Qs and how to use the equipment we would be handling day to day in the Army. After that we marched back to the barracks and had the option of taking part in the absolute best thing the Army has ever thought of: MIDNIGHT CHOW. Midnight chow is available from 2300 to 0100 on Mondays through Fridays and provides the option of either breakfast OR dinner. I always chose breakfast because we, as swings, would always wake up too late for the normal breakfast chow time frame. The amount of conversations and laughs held over midnight chow meals between me and my battle buddies is too many to recount. But it was a great way to finish off the day and I always enjoyed it. After midnight chow, we would head back to the company, in battle buddy groups of at least two of course, to enjoy what little time we had left till lights out, which was at 0100. The platoon sergeants would come up to do a bed check making sure that our lights were out and that no one was on an electronic device. We all became pretty good at tipping the guys in the next room off that the sergeants were heard entering the room down the hall or were on the way to our end of the hall. Texts from the fire guards that we knew were also helpful as they would let us know that the bed check was about to happen on our floor. It's amazing how technology can be helpful sometimes. Lol. After lights out, some of us would stay up late into the night. PV2 Bieber always stayed up the latest, sometimes on Facetime with girls and PVT Sleepy would watch movies on his phone. As for myself, I would play games on my laptop or watch movies.  Then somewhere around 0300, I'd call it a night and go to sleep, only to wake up and do the same thing all over again. Weekends were great except for morning accountability formations, which meant no true "sleeping in" was happening. Most of the soldiers around me couldn't wait to get off-post and to a bar or the movies. As for myself, I typically stayed in the barracks and watched movies or did laundry and talked with my wife or family on the phone. There were occasional breaks from the monotony like the incessant fire alarms that we endured for three weekends straight. Apparently, the alarm system is old and faulty, but that didn't change the fact that in one single night we had to head down (we were in a third floor room) to the parking lot SEVEN times due to evacuation and accountability procedures. As most of the guys had come back from a night on the town, many of them were more than slightly inebriated. PV2 Cartoon was completely gone and had to be helped upstairs by his battle buddies that had gone out with him, who included PV2 Bain and PVT Mimic. He had just passed out on his bed when the first fire alarm went off and then me and about four other soldiers had to help carry him down three flights of stairs that were tremendously crammed with soldiers trying to get out because they thought it might be a real fire alarm. After we got checked off for accountability purposes, they let us back upstairs which mean carrying Cartoon back up another three flights. Then the fire alarm kept going off. Rinse, Lather, Repeat, metaphorically speaking. We kept from going crazy by changing our clothes each time we went down. Various hilarious mixtures of uniforms and civilian clothes were donned and at one point about five of us all wore our long black Army dress uniform trenchcoats down and even got a pretty nice group shot in. On the seventh alarm, there were soldiers screaming up and down the hall just desperately hoping to go to sleep because it was nearly four in the morning by then and we had an accountability formation at 0800. The fire department finally disconnected the alarms and thankfully the platoon sergeant for the next morning was told about the previous night's trouble and mercifully let us sleep an extra three hours before our first accountability formation of the day. Aside from that night, there wasn't really anything exciting goin' on at good ol' Fort Gordon. The only other thing of note was that about three months in to my time there, the Army changed its policy on drinking and off-post priveleges for AIT soldiers. Even if you were of legal drinking age you were not allowed to drink and for two weeks off-post privileges were completely revoked, severely cramping many soldiers weekend plans and social lives. Me, I barely noticed or paid attention. Graduation was right around the corner and I was looking forward to what would come afterwards. The Real Army.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Welcome to the Jungle.....

First, let me apologize for the long delays in my posts recently. I don't currently have internet in the barracks and also have classes that keep me pretty busy so I've had to figure out the best time to try and fit in some writing time. My first week at A.I.T. was a shock and an awakening. I showed up to my first formation at 0800 hours and was amazed at the lack of discipline on display. People were talking in formation left and right and nobody even cared. I found out it was like this all the time. I was the only soldier from Ft. Jackson that had been assigned to Echo Company for the new class, so I was on my own with no familiar faces around again, just like when I showed up at reception. Well, at least it wasn't freezing and windy all the time like at Ft. Jackson. I found out that, with the exception of two guys who had basic at Ft. Sill, everyone else from our class was from Ft. Benning. I was in a room with some pretty squared away guys for nearly a week and then we finished in-processing (which is truly horrible, maddeningly boring, and essentially death by PowerPoint) and got split up into groups of days and swings. Me and Private Sleepy (because he spends all his free time during the week hibernating) were moved into the room next door, which initially worried me as I thought the new room might be less disciplined. It turns out the move may have been for the better anyways, as these guys are more like me in personality anyways, so we get along better. As the in-processing ended, we started classes with our instructor, who I'll call Mr. P. The first learning module, essentially the first week of class, was more death by PowerPoint but as the second and third week arrived we began to do some hands-on work with the equipment we'll be working with in our MOS. We've gotten to know our platoon sergeants and they all seem pretty laid back. We've got Sergeant First Class HotRod (named so because he drives a fast car that you can hear coming from down the street) and Staff Sergeant Cedric (because he looks like and reminds me of a skinny version of Cedric the Entertainer). We have more freedom here but there are still certain rules and regulations that must be followed. The battle buddy system is still in effect and soldiers must have a battle buddy with them any time they leave the company A.O. (Area of Operations).  There's also a Phase system that mirrors that of Basic Training's Red, White and Blue Phases, except ours are Phase IV, V, and V+. The advantages of phasing up are not having to go to formations every two hours on Saturdays and Sundays and being able to use tobacco products if we choose to. Phase V+ doesn't have to do fire guard or CQ duty shifts any more, but you have to be in your tenth week here before you can phase up to that. Phase V is available to start phasing up to after the third week but none of us passed on the first week. Me and another private were closest to making it but failed on our wall locker inspections. On the fourth week though most of our class phased up. The cast of characters here is interesting and I feel like our room gets along the best. We've got Private Mimic, who does really good impressions of people's voices. Then there's PV2 Bain, who frequently quotes lines from The Dark Knight Rises and loves to hunt. There's Private Grissy, who is from Haiti and always gets cracked on for his Creole accent. "Grissy" is how he said 'Greasy' in class one day and it's his new catchphrase. Then there's our resident crazy character who is so animated I'm gonna refer to him as PV2 Cartoon. We have PVT Beats, who is constantly wearing his 200 dollar Beats by Dre headphones and constantly asking what's going on because he didn't pay attention to what's goin on around him. Rounding out the room is PV2 Bieber who used to rock a Justin Bieber-styled haircut and is always talking to girls till late in the night. The guys are all pretty decent fellows and it was really interesting getting to know them. These soldiers would prove to be my closest battle buddies for the next 16 weeks. It was time to start learning how to do our jobs as soldiers.

Last Dance for G.I. Joe

Graduation Day. It's a moment that every soldier can't wait for from the moment they get to reception and before they've even seen a drill sergeant. It's the culmination of all the hard work that's been put into their development as a soldier for more than two months day in and day out. For the soldiers in our company it was an especially strong feeling because for that period of time our bodies were pushed to extremes harder than any other company at Ft. Jackson. Soldiers in other companies and even from other battalions had heard of our experience being harder than theirs. They'd heard of the mass cold weather casualties on our Field Training Exercises. They heard how nearly every night someone would vomit at hydration formation from drinking so much water so fast, while their companies didn't even have hydro forms. They heard how we had to stay out in the field even longer than their companies did. And they heard about how twice as many people from our company had been chaptered out of the military for various reasons. We had been forged in proverbial fire regardless of how much our drill sergeants may have wanted to downplay the toughness of our training. 
We lined up in the woods behind Hilton Field (the parade ground where every Ft. Jackson graduation takes place) on the day before Graduation Day ready for the events of Family Day. We lined up as a battalion just out of sight from our waiting loved ones and took a knee as our drill sergeants ribbed us one last time, calling out certain soldiers and asking what their MOS was and telling them how those jobs did or didn't suck. The 68Ws pretty much all got respect because they are combat medics and keep the infantry alive. Everyone else was subject to playful criticism that kept the mood light. The drill sergeants also made sure to give some last minute assessments of random privates and how they were going to screw up at AIT or their first duty stations. I saw through the cracks they were dishing out. They were saying goodbye in the only way they could collectively. They might have hated some of us, been indifferent about some of us or loved some of us, but I know that many of them were proud of us. We were their platoons, their soldiers and all the long hours and sacrifices they had made in their personal lives were culminating. Make no mistakes......As hard as it is to be a private in BCT, it is twice as stressful and exhausting for our drill sergeants. They get little sleep (typically three to four hours per night on average, have to be in peak physical shape and have few days off. They are there from the time we wake up till right before lights out regularly and they usually have more than 50 peoples issues to keep track of and take care of. The stress level for their job is something I don't envy, but the accomplishment of transforming civilians into soldiers physically and mentally is a source of personal pride for many of them. What many people also don't realize is that many of them don't ask for the job. The Army can tell any staff sergeant or higher to go do two or three years at any time without warning. To answer that call and perform a task so difficult effectively and consistently is something that I highly respect.
So, as we formed up in the woodline eagerly anticipating reunions with our loved ones, they were treated to exercises that demonstrated our training and how we had learned to be combat effective if needed. They stressed how even though we weren't in combat MOSes we were first and foremost soldiers who were trained and ready for combat should the need ever arise. As the Humvees raced across the field and blanks spat out from M16s our families got a glimpse of what we were now capable of. Then, once the demonstration (which had been performed by another company) was complete, we stood up and began to slowly march forward. As we reached the edge of the woodline, green smoke grenades had been popped to cover our entrance and simulated artillery rounds and gunfire began. We got into company formations led by our drill sergeants and marched proudly towards our families as soldiers for the first time. We knew they would be excited to see us, but I'm not sure if any of us were prepared for the roar of cheers and thunderous applause that greeted us as we came to a halt just in front of the grandstands. We were so filled with emotions that it was hard to keep our military bearing and maintain a position of attention. Collectively the feeling of accomplishment and pride was overwhelming and many of us had tears of joy welling in our eyes. Our battalion's command sergeant major spoke to our families briefly about how we had been through so much and to make sure not to let us do anything stupid on the day before graduation but still enjoy the time with loved ones . After the command sergeant major spoke, we were released to the care of our families for the rest of the day and they rushed down to us as we were not allowed to move until they had come and grabbed us out of formation. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw my wife pass the rank I was standing in and then take a step back to make sure it was really me she saw. I had lost so much weight that she almost passed me by! :)  As she grabbed me out of ranks, we cleared the formation and collapsed into each other's arms in one of the truest and strongest embraces I have ever experienced. The man she tearfully sent off on the bus at MEPS to go to reception was not the same man holding her that day. In one of her letters, she had told me "I know you can do this. You're a soldier now. MY soldier.". It was one of the most encouraging things anyone has ever told me and it had spurred me forth during the harder parts of basic training to persevere. Now standing on that field, I felt worthy of her comment. Shortly afterward, I saw my mother and uncle who had been waiting off to the side of the field. Mom cried pretty much as soon as she saw me and hugged me close to her. For a brief moment, I was taken back to some early time in my memory when she hugged me tightly, as if it would be her last opportunity to hold her baby. I must have been about three or so. It was one of those types of moments I remembered about my father when he passed away and I'm sure it will be the same for mom. If anything, all the suffering of basic was worth it for those moments with my family. And looking around I could tell that my battle buddies were having the same experience.
So after our tearful reunion, my family knew I had one thing on my mind. FOOD. We went to Popeye's because I kept seeing it when we would pass by on the bus to the range every day for like a month straight and well, because honestly, I love that chicken at Popeye's. Lol. We ate the food at an activity center on post, the same one where we had our sexual harassment and assault class with the funny improv actors. I was really glad that my uncle was there also, because he spent more than twenty years in the army including spending time as a drill sergeant and we were able to trade stories about how it was for him in his day and how things are now. It was a great substitute for the conversation I desperately craved having with my father but never could. We also agreed that our extended family needs to stay in better communication with each other and agreed to talk more regularly regardless of distance, which was really nice. After we ate we decided to check the Army Basic Training Museum which was just down the street on post. It was really interesting seeing how things were for my father and uncle with items going back to World War II on display. Towards the end of the exhibit, I found myself getting really drowsy though and fell asleep standing up and stumbled forward about two steps. My family laughed a bit and we decided it was probably a good time to go. Then we went back to the company and, because my bay was the one on display for family day, I got to show them my bunks, wall locker and the bay I had called home for the previous nine weeks. Then we left to go to the PX and buy some supplies I needed like a duffel bag and garment bag. What I forgot to do before we left was close my wall locker (which I had never done all through basic) and I would find out that night how big of a mistake that truly was. One of our drill sergeants had found my locker open and closed it after making sure to write my name down as well as everyone else who had forgotten to secure their wall lockers. Because mine was completely open, my punishment would be more severe.
So I enjoyed the rest of my day with my family and got back to the barracks for the night. It would prove to be an even longer and more grueling night than the one before with nearly everyone pulling weapons cleaning duty for the majority of the night. At one point after my turn on weapons duty, the drill sergeant who found my wall locker open told me I had to go up to the bay and pack my bags as fast as humanly possible. I scrambled up and packed my things and when I was done I called down to the CQ desk to let him know I was finished. He then came up to the bay and had all the others who had left their lockers unsecured form a circle. Then he made me do lunges up and down the length of the bay carrying my bags over my head one at a time. While I was doing this, my battle buddies in the circle had to perform various strenous exercises. They also had to beat me down to the end of the bay doing lunges as well (without the burden of packed bags) every time I completed a lap or else they would get smoked longer. He said that securing items was extremely important and that he found in the past that imprinting things in a private's mind like this was necessary to being a good soldier. So I sucked it up and did the lunges, but by the end of the ordeal, my legs were burning, I was dripping with sweat and I was wobbly and shaking like a newborn calf. I dropped the last bag and collapsed on top of the pile of my belongings having fully learned my lesson and with the knowledge burned into my head that I couldn't be so careless again.
That night we got maybe a half hour of sleep, but we didn't care too much because we were so excited once Graduation Day began. We woke up, headed to chow and, right as were about to file into the DFAC, we were smoked one last time for no apparent reason other than to get one last smoke session in, which I thought was pretty funny. After chow, we went back to the barracks, got changed into our ASUs (the Army's dress uniform) and  loaded up onto busses heading towards Hilton Field. We got there and stepped off onto the back side of Hilton Field and formed up as a battalion grouped by company. We marched up and formed a line in front of the grandstands where the battalion commander spoke for about fifteen minutes about how the road was set forth in front of us as soldiers and how we had answered the call to serve our country during war time which was something most Americans will never be able to say they have done. He told us to remember to have integrity and carry ourselves like soldiers going forward from here. "Cowards never start and the weak never finish." That's what he said to remind us what separates us from the other 99% of the population that didn't answer the call to serve like we did.  We marched one last time as a battalion around to the side of the parade ground and then down past the grandstands. As we began to walk past our families we simultaneously snapped our heads to the right and looked in their direction as we passed then continued marching forward to the end of the parade ground where we were officially released. As our families rushed to the end of the field to come hug us and pick us up, handshakes, hugs and congratulations were shared among all of us. We knew it was only the beginning and that now we would all be split up to all parts of the country. We knew that there was more distance that would keep us from our famiies lying ahead. But that day was ours and we would revel in it.
After a trip to the PX and a steak dinner at Texas Roadhouse, we went back to the hotel where me and my wife enjoyed time together, but mainly I slept. Oh boy, did I sleep. I slept like a baby in the super comfy hotel bed with FOUR pillows instead of one flat, crappy wafer of a pillow. I slept for like eleven hours! I woke up after nine in the morning! No one yelled at me in the morning! It was, in a word, divine. That Friday morning, me and the wife drove my mom to the airport and said goodbye, then went to Waffle House for breakfast (cause they don't have any in Texas, which is just wrong). Afterwards,  we drove from Columbia, South Carolina (just outside Fort Jackson) to Augusta, Georgia where Fort Gordon, the site of my Advanced Individual Training, is located. We went on post and checked me into my battalion and company headquarters and then I received a weekend pass to go spend time with my wife. We went to see a movie and got some great food in downtown Augusta. It was a great day and the next morning when we had to say goodbye before she got on the flight back to Texas, there was a tearful goodbye in the rain that I fear will be repeated at points throughout my military career. It's the price to be paid to be able to say that you served your country with honor though. Now, it was time to take the next step in this journey: A.I.T.

The Home Stretch......Or Lunge.

So the days leading up to graduation just flew by. We were so busy that I didn't have time to write during the last two weeks. A few days before graduation, we were taken to a community center on post for a class about sex. It was awkward at first hearing them talk so plainly about rape occurring even to people in the military, but the manner in which the class was portrayed (two improv actors portraying scenarios filled with humor and audience interaction) helped to get the message across without embarassment. I was glad to see the Army making efforts to educate young soldiers on how to protect themselves and their battle buddies from sexual assault and STDs. Also, when we got back from our last FTX, the deep cleaning began. The entire bay, top to bottom, had to be cleaned. Lockers had to be wiped down and emptied of their contents, bags had to be packed and all of our equipment as a platoon had to be counted, turned back in and stored away properly. Our weapons were the worst part because the drill sergeants wanted them cleaned to the highest degree. Family day came with so much anticipation that we couldn't barely contain ourselves.

 On the night before graduation, they made us go from a normal two-man CQ shift to a 15-man CQ which meant that no one was getting much sleep. Normally while on CQ, you and a battle buddy just help out with cleaning the drill sergeants CQ office and latrines, moving things around or into storage, filling water jugs or loading up trucks for the next day or, if you're lucky, sitting in a chair trying not to fall asleep. Thanks to a scheduling error, one of the privates didn't know he had a CQ shift and because he couldn't find three other soldiers willing to go down and work the CQ shift with him, the drill sergeant on duty called back every fifteen minutes and kept raising the amount of soldiers he needed to bring down with him. By the time thirty minutes passed by, he had to bring down thirty other guys with him. With fourteen soldiers on CQ already and two on fire guard duty, there wasn't even thirty soldiers available that had not just gotten off of CQ to pull duty. At one point I was told by our drill sergeant that I needed to pack my bags as fast as humanly possible. Then I was told that I would have to carry each of my fully packed bags all the way down the bay (about 150 feet at least) and back one at a time. I had left my locker open during Family Day and about ten of my battle buddies had forgotten to lock theirs as well. Since mine was left wide open, I had the worst punishment, but the catch was that while I was doing the lunges, my battle buddies would be subjected to some crazy strenuous PT. Eight-count pushups and stuff like that and then halfway through he made them do lunges down and if I beat them back we would start it all over again. It was crazy and the bags got really heavy cause I had to carry them over my head and they were packed full. By the time I finished, my legs were burning up and I was barely able to stand. In fact, I collapsed on top of the bags as I set the last one down and it took about ten minutes before I could drag myself back to my feet. Needless to say, a lesson was very effectively learned that night. Securing personal items is key in the military and I shall not forget it anytime soon. Lol. After our four-hour shifts we were supposed to pack and then that left us with about a half-hour to forty-five minutes to sleep. Graduation day started early and by eight o'clock in the morning we were on a bus headed to Hilton Field for graduation to begin.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

March, Soldier, March

Well, it's been a couple weeks. I imagine it's time for an update. I left off right before our last Field Training Exercise, which was a ton of fun. Actually it wasn't at all and I'm just kidding. It was a lot of standing guard and freezing our tails off. This time though, we did some pretty cool squad-based exercises. We fired a lot of blanks and took part in many scenarios to prepare us for real world situations that may arise. But mostly, we were cold. The temperature was nice during the days but hovered around 25 degrees at night and, without fail, it was typical South Carolina windy. I swear I've never been somewhere so consistently windy except maybe Kansas. One night, which had temperatures in the teens, we were at a checkpoint taking turns on guard and, when it was our turn to sleep, we slept on the forest floor with our wet weather tops and bottoms as our only blanket of any kind. That's the equivalent of using a grocery bag to stay warm. Our sleeping bags and all the rest of our gear was back at our FOB (Forward Operating Base), so we really didn't have a choice. The cold was so frigid, we ended up forming rows of males (and about 25 meters away a separate formation for females) that pretty much spooned for body heat. We must have looked hilarious to our drill sergeants, but it was SERIOUSLY cold. I woke up and the water in my camelback was actually frozen solid! I couldn't feel my legs below shin level and my hands were numb even with three pairs of gloves on. It was the coldest I've ever been in my life and for the rest of my days on this planet I doubt I'll forget what feeling like you're freezing truly  means. Another unfortunate occurrence while at the FTX was that PVT Tactics and PVT Seducer were both fired from their positions as Platoon Guide and Assistant Platoon Guide for messing up our personnel and weapons counts one day. I could tell it was coming though, because DS Amazon had grown increasingly frustrated with PVT Tactics recently for the very same issue. I had hoped that it wouldn't happen, but when I asked Tactics, he said he was kind of relieved actually. He mentioned that he had been voluntold to take the position in the first place anyways. Being voluntold is pretty much the same as being picked out to do something. It was unfortunate, but Tactics said that he ended up enjoying the rest of his time in BCT a lot more without the responsibilities of student leadership weighing him down. PVT Maestro was my faithful battle buddy yet again and this time we were joined by PVT Sulu as well (I call him Sulu cause he's reminds me of George Takei, lol). We had many laughs watching each other make trips out to the woodline to use nature's latrine (taking a squat behind a tree, lol), digging a three-man hasty fighting position and setting up a mega-hooch comprised of three ponchos with room for all three of us. Of course, it rained at least one of the days we were out there because , hey, it's Bravo company and we had to be miserable of course. I had a personal battle throughout the week because my knees were getting progressively worse as the week went by. Carrying our full battle rattle with a loaded ruck sack was almost too much to handle at times. I'm not sure of the exact weight but I'd wager to say it was around 70 to 80 pounds altogether. By the time day 5 of the FTX rolled around, it hurt even just to walk normally and my right knee was popping every time I bent it more than 70 degrees from a straightened position. I think I probably would have been fine had I had an opportunity to use some Ibuprofen or something to that effect, but it wasn't an option. PVT Maestro knew I was hurting and did his best to help alleviate the pain when he could, which I am severely grateful for. Sometimes it's the littlest things that get you through a situation, like when a battle buddy reminds you how little time there is left till you get out of said situation or even just distracts you from your misery by talking about home and family. So, at the end of the week, we marched 16 kilometers (about 10 miles) back from the FTX as a battalion of some 1,200 or so soldiers led by our battalion commander, the very same officer who called me out for a chat in front of the company the day we didn't get to eat dinner. On the last day, including the training exercises we did earlier in the day, which involved carrying our battle buddies who had been deemed "casualties", we probably marched about 15 to 20 miles. I didn't complain about the pain, but some of my battle buddies knew I was hurtin'. I was the last soldier in line in my platoon on the battalion march back, but I never fell out of the march and made it back to the company HQ feeling relatively okay aside from my knees. When we got back to the barracks they had rock music playing and tiki torches lit up all around the battalion to welcome us back. This was the start of our Rites of Passage ceremony which was when we were given our black berets and had them adjusted by our drill sergeants. Then they shook our hands and congratulated us, which was actually pretty nice. We may be at the bottom of the totem pole, but for a brief moment, with bagpipes being played in the background and our battalion commander telling us we made it, we felt like soldiers in equal standing. I must admit I got a little misty-eyed after Drill Sergeants Amazon and Action came through and placed my beret and shook my hand. Graduation was for our families, our battalion commander said, but this was for us. The sense of pride swept up out of us and we went back up to our bays with huge smiles on our faces. We had done it. We had completed every graduation requirement for Army BCT. All that was left was Family Day and Graduation.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Note from the Wife

Tuesday March 25, 2013- Hello all, wife here. :) As you may or may not know already, our narrator graduated from BCT on March 21, 2013. He is settled in at AIT, and will hopefully resume blog writing (he'll actually be doing all the typing now, not me!) very soon. They have more freedom there, but internet time is hard to get, so please be patient. He's determined to write some more about the BCT experience, a summary of sorts, as well as highlights and lowlights we haven't heard yet. He will be documenting his entire AIT experience as well, so we can have an idea what he is going through fro the next 16 weeks. If you are a family member of a soldier he was in BCT with, thank you so much for reading and supporting his blog. It was nice to meet many of you at Graduation, and please feel free to continue to read, even if your soldier is at a different AIT site.

Thank you to everyone who has supported him so far, and for your continued support for him and his new career path. This journey has changed him so much already, in ways you'll hear about, and some you won't (you wouldn't believe how amazing he looks now, at least 25 pounds lost and 10 in muscle put back on, woowie!) He relies on the love and support of friends, family and even the readers of this blog to keep him pushing forward. I can't wait to read what is coming next!


Almost There

Sunday, March 10, 2013- We're on the eve of Victory Forge, our last field exercise and required 16K march. Everyone is excited because this time we get issued tents! No more sleeping in a puddle because the ponchos on a string let water in on all sides! Victory Forge is a 5 day event that will test all of the skills we've learned over the last 8 weeks and during which we will sleep VERY little. Everyone has been rushing around like crazy, washing clothes, prepping gear and packing our duffel bags and ruck sacks. There's so much talk of how close to graduation we are right now. Ten days and a wake up 'till we move on to the next phase of our military careers. Yesterday, we took our end of cycle testing over the skills we learned so far. It took all day but it was worth it. Everyone, for the most part, did pretty well. A few days ago, we took part in the Confidence Course, complete with rope swings, logs you roll over on your belly, walls to climb over as a group, a giant log thirty feet high to walk across and a long zip line down. The most imposing part was a forty foot tower that gradually gets wider at each successive level going higher up to the top. Teams of four were told to get up to the top and back down the other side without leaving anyone behind. I almost fell off the damn thing 35 to 40 feet up with PVT Sulu almost let me go and forgot to grab my belt while pulling me up. Lol. And just after getting up to the second level, I cut the crap out of my hand and started bleeding pretty ugly. I didn't quit though and we got up to the top of the tower. We were almost all the way down when PVT Sulu and PVT B-Boy were helping down PVT Jukebox from the level we just came down from. The way they pulled him in, his elbow swung in and down hard striking me right on top of the head!! It stunned the crap out of me and I blacked out for like five, ten seconds, but I finished the event and eventually the course. They said I looked pretty funny though. Lol.