Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A message from the past...

I got another letter from the wifey today, sent late last week. It's probably the last one I'll get for awhile, as I doubt she'll be able to write (or least send mail out) while at Victory Forge. I got one page of letter, you get 9 pages of blog notes. I hope you're happy.

Oct. 3

We spent this whole beautiful day getting our Class A uniforms issued. Although tedious, it was exciting to get them. Not only are we expected to clean ourselves up and graduate, we are expected to do it in style.

Oct. 4

Finally, a restful Sunday. And a phone call. A really, truly perfect day. :)

Oct . 5

So today was our first real rainy day here. It was both rainy and cold. And we spent the whole day in it, out at the range.

It was the US Weapons range where we got to fire some of the bigger weapons.

I fired the M240B machine gun, the 50 cal, the M203 grenade launcher, the AT4 rocket launcher, and the SAW [Squad Automatic Weapon, an M249 light machine gun]. The sound vibrated through our bodies. Every third round or so was a tracer round so we could see where they went.

Despite the weather, it was one of the best days here. I think the sound of the 50 cal was the best.

Oct. 6

Wake up was at 4:30 am with first formation at 4:55 am. Full Battle Rattle. And then we started our 9 mile march. I re-sprained my ankle in the third mile when I fell. The pace was fast and it was still dark. With my bad ankle I was an accident waiting to happen. But I made it. I had to move back to the front during the last rest stop but from then on remained with my platoon. It took 3 1/2 hours for us to march 9 miles with 3 rest stops. Not too bad.

We got to the training area, had breakfast (yes, we marched all that way on an empty stomach) and then set up our hooches [huts].

We had a briefing and then had lunch. After lunch we went through the Validation Lane -- going over an obstacle, under an obstacle, indirect fire, direct fire, treating a casualty and the 9-line Medevac. We also go to fire blanks at our "enemy".

After chow it got dark rather quickly. We donned our Night Vision Goggles and proceeded to do a night patrol where we encountered direct fire. We responded as well as we could in the pitch dark with ill-fitting and unfocused NVGs. It was great fun. Everything looked a little eerie.

I did a fireguard shift and then sacked completely out in the sleeping bag. It was a cool night and the bugs left me alone. The moon was bright through the clouds. It looked like it was starting to clear up. :)

Oct. 7

Now I know I have been in the South for far too long. It was down right chilly this morning! I did not want to get out of my sleeping bag -- and it was still dark out. How am I supposed to find anything? Chow was lukewarm food trucked in from the DFAC. Blech.

Then we had MOUT Training (Military Operations in Urban Terrain). We went to the MOUT Range and practiced "swat style" building entries. Kick the door in , clear the room and safely exiting. All without getting killed. It was a pretty fun day -- we had a nice breeze that kept it form getting too hot and the training was fairly easy to pick up.

We then had the chance to do the same exercises with the NVGs. I looked up at the sky with them on and was in awe! The NVGs pick up even the most miniscule bits of light so the sky was peppered in stars. [Editor's note: I would have said "salted" but that's just me.] I could have stayed looking at that incredible sight all night long.

Then it was a motormove back to the training area and we marched back to camp. On the "FOB" as it is called.

The sleeping bag felt wonderful to crawl into.

*Oh, I almost forgot -- the Chaplain came out to the range to see me today. We had a really nice conversation and he was greatly encouraging. Taking a risk is a leap of faith -- and I must trust in Him to take me where I need to go. God is good.

Oct. 8

Now today was Round Robin. It was easy going to the different stations and learning, fine tuning the skills we would need for Victory Forge. None of it is hard -- you just have to keep your head. We did direct and indirect fire, CLS exercises, patrolling and IED training (that was really fun -- especially since we were the only squad that didn't set off the trip wire). We did lose a person to a roadside IED though. :( We got back to the bay via a motormove after marching out in the fading light.

The hot shower felt so wonderful, even if it was short.

I did my fireguard shift and fell into bed. It isn't the greatest mattress, but damn, it was nice to be in a bed. These old bones were grateful. :)

Oct. 9

Today was Post Detail. We went to the Defense Academy for Credibility Assessment to help with some research/testing. This is where they train Poloygraph Examiners. The students were being tested on us by taking us through a security interview.

Even though I knew it was for research I was still nervous. I even cried at the end when the man doing my interview/screening was sympathetic towards my 40 years of baggage. :) My "lawyer" came in and "saved" me. In between testing we got to watch movies, read magazines, and write letters. It was a really nice day. The school treated us like real humans for the day and not scummy little know-nothing privates. It was a nice change of pace.

We marched to chow, did hydration formation, and went to bed. Sleep is a rare and treasured commodity here.

Oct. 10

Happy Birthday my love! (I was thinking of you ALL DAY LONG!!) And this was quite a feat seeing as how today I got to throw 2 live hand grenades. Awesome! I felt like Marvin the Martian waiting for the "Ka-boom!" That explosion rocked me to my bones. Never thought much about them before. No more underestimating their power. It was a good, fun day. And it was made even better when the Drill Sergeant let me call my man for his birthday! Sweet!

*We phased from White to Blue today. I even got kind of emotional over it. I think it finally hit me that I am almost done with Basic Training and I will be able to see it through to the end. I am sore and I have some growing issues in my knees and feet, but I am making it! I will graduate! I will see my man! :)

Oct. 11

Yay Sunday! The sermon was pretty good today. Bible Study was incredible! So many things to pray about!!

An easy day today. Eat, church, clean weapons, eat, go to PX, eat, clean weapons, beautification... typical Sunday.

Oct. 12

It is raining buckets. And we are going to the range for Combat Shoot. Should be a good time. I hope I can keep my feet dry...

Well, it poured all day long. I managed to qualify again with score of 17 -- which was not easy.

Targets were hard to see and my front sight post kept getting a water bubble in it that I had to keep blowing out. All 3 magazines also had silver bullets (duds) that caused me misfire, so I had to clear it. And I had to change empty magazines twice.

I also managed to keep my left foot dry. The right one went swimming.

*We got to call home tonight! Sweet!! I love making phone calls when we don't expect it. :)

Oct. 13

PT Test! 18 push ups, 70 sit ups, and my 2 mile run in 19:01. (I took off another 3 minutes!) All totaled I achieved a score of 247 out of 300. Not too shabby for an old lady! :)

We had a little down time here and there but mostly we trained. We had to negotiate obstacles and "fire" on the enemy in buddy pairs. We were all pretty beat but managed to make it through just in time for NIC at Night. No, not TV. Night Infiltration Course. We lined up in a trench (did I mention the 2 feet of cold water?) We had to go up the side of the trench as fast as we could, high crawl [hands and knees] to our first low crawl [belly] under barbed wire, between stakes 24" high, around mortar pits and under another barbed wire. We could only low and high crawl or do a modified crawl on our back. Total distance we crawled was about 85 yards. I was full of sand. And now I have 2 pairs of wet boots.

A fireguard shift completed my night. 1-3 am. Blah!

*The low crawl was a real bear. And it just seemed like I would never get there. I did though and I was so completely exhausted.

It pissed me off that the weapon I had so meticulously cleaned this afternoon now had so much sand in it that it probably just needed a batch! So, I did that on Fireguard. :)


  1. It's been seven years since my three sons did their basic, it's been so much fun reading your updates, brings back lots of memories of what the boys told me. Your writings put real pictures in the head, where as their letters weren't quite as full of information. You have done a great job and you and your husband have a lot to be proud of! BTW my #2 Son's Birthday is the 10th too...so Happy Birthday to your Hubby;) The end is truly in sight, then on to AIT, right?

  2. Hi Laura,

    I understand completely about your sons' letters. Our youngest son is in basic training with the Marines and his letters (few as they are) are brief and general.

    Yes, AIT officially starts the day after graduation. She'll stay at Ft. Jackson.

    Thanks for the birthday wishes, same to your #2 son!