I’m back! I’m at the tail end of a very enjoyable 2 week leave from basic training in Fort Jackson, SC. I guess Drill Sergeants want to spend time with their families for the holidays too, so we were allowed to book a flight home form Dec 19th – Jan 3rd.
Basic training, honestly, had been pretty fun up until this point. I was fortunate that because of our starting date we crammed all our graduation requirements before leave. So after 8 weeks of training I’ve undergone the soldier ceremony and have “earned” the right to wear my rank and my beret. The week before leave had the Forge. The Forge was the final field exercise of basic training. We spent 4 days outside in the cold with some of the lows reaching into the 20s at night. We started with a long ruck march of a little over 10 miles. 10 miles isn’t as fun with a 65lb pack. However, I really enjoyed rucking because of the challenge, but mostly because I was warm when I was moving! Sleep was hard to come by as we spent a lot of our time rucking at night. In the cold conditions you could see the moisture on your boots ice over. That was a little depressing, but when it came time to actually get a little sleep I was really impressed by the warmth of our sleeping system. Without a good sleeping system I don’t know if I could have done it! The night before the soldier ceremony we had to sit outside in the cold for hours before it started. No sleep and it may have been the coldest I’ve ever been in my life.
I’ve been asked a lot what a standard day looks like for me in basic training. We start the day typically around 5am with a wake up call. 5:30am formed up outside gives 30 minutes for morning hygiene and making your bed. Then we stand outside in the cold (sensing a theme?) until a Drill Sergeant comes out and runs us through physical training. Days typically alternate between running days and “strong” days which is essentially pushups, situps and other related exercises. After our workout we usually head to the dining facility for breakfast and then back to the bays for a shower depending on time. The rest of the morning until lunch is dependant on where we are in our training cycle. For most of basic we would spend this time getting to the range, either by walking or bus, and then shooting until lunch. Lunch is in the dining facility if we are on the battalion footprint otherwise we eat MREs (meals ready to eat). MREs aren’t terrible, especially if you are good at trading for things you want. I always end up with extra food since I know who likes what and more importantly who doesn’t like what. Then after lunch more shooting and then transport back to the battalion. Then another workout before or after dinner depending on timing. Then after dinner or after the workout we typically spend some time cleaning the classrooms, our bays, or whatever they can find for us to clean. Then if we didn’t mess up to badly we might get 45 minutes of personal time to read and write letters. Then lights out is at 9pm. And then it happens all over again…
I’ve made a lot of friends and have enjoyed learning and getting better at a lot of the different types of training. So for me I’ve really enjoyed it and always found a way to have a little fun each day. There’s always something that a Drill Sergeant yells at another trainee that will make you laugh.
I came home to lots of needed time with family and friends. I also came home to a puppy German shepherd living at my house. So much happiness!
Next, I’ll be headed to Fort Benning, Georgia for 12 weeks of Officer Candidate School. Who knows if I’ll be able to update you from there, but just know I’ll be continuing adventuring and learning!