I got the last of Dela's blog notes from BCT. After this, I'm relieved of duty and she will begin to update her blog again.
Wed. Oct. 14
Today was Omaha Beach day. It was raining buckets again so it was cancelled. They are taking no chances with the live fire I guess. There is a RUMOR (on the PNN -- Private News Network) that a bullet ricocheted and hit someone at this exercise at one time. I have not been able to verify this though. There are so many safeties in place for trainees that if it did happen, it had to be a freak accident.
Instead of Omaha, we had a locker inspection. Mine was the first locker inspected. I had nothing I wasn't supposed to have so there were no worries for me. The only comment Drill Sergeant had was when he was holding two handfuls of letters from my hubby. "I suspect that there is no fraternization going on with you." I told him, "No, my husband certainly would not approve." :) One of the other privates had a bag of leftover food from her MRE's and two others were found fraternizing. They were disciplined quite severely. They lost pay and had extra duty. Such stupid things to do and especially so close to graduation. DUH!
Thur. Oct. 15
Today I spent half the day at Dental being a Battle Buddy. I missed PT in Full Battle Rattle. Bummer. It was pretty grueling from what I have heard. It included a 1/2 mile run, 50 yard sprint, drag your battle buddy, fireman carry your battle buddy, then carry two 25 lb. jugs across the field over an obstacle, and hang from the pull up bar for 30 seconds. UGH! It will be nice if I don't have to make that up!
Tonight we worked on our Berets (shaving and shaping) [editor's note: I have no idea what "shaving" a beret entails. Do they come with whiskers?] and everyone got excited for when Victory Forge is over and we could legitimately wear them. Hooah!
A church service completed my night. We leave for Victory Forge on Saturday!
*We also ordered our Battalion and Platoon t-shirts. I thought they were cool. And I just had to get 2 shot glasses. :)
Fri. Oct. 16
Today we spent packing Victory Forge. Making sure we had everything we needed for the week in the field. And, of course, we had to make sure our weapons were clean.
Sat. Oct. 17
Not a typical Saturday. Today we leave for Victory Forge. Never really thought this day would ever come. It seemed both quick in its arrival and long in getting here. Breakfast was at the DFAC. A decent meal for our sendoff.
We were motormoved to our F.O.B. (Forward Operating Base) and threw our stuff in tent. Our tent held all 2nd platoon females. All 23 of them. Our cots were 10 inches apart. Much too close for comfort. We motormoved a short distance away and practiced direct and indirect fire. We were there all day. It was pretty chilly out and a lot of the day was spent sitting, waiting on our turn. Then we did it all again in the dark with NVG's on. It was a fairly easy day and it would have been even better if the weather was just a little bit warmer. My fireguard shift was frigid!
Sun. Oct. 18
Not a typical Sunday either. We were up in the dark and motormoved to the range for Omaha Beach (we are doing it -- finally!). In Basttle Buddy teams we had to traverse an obstacle course (barriers and tires, walls, barrels, etc.) firing live rounds at the "enemy" (pop up targets). We were each followed by a drill sergeant to ensure safety. It really was easy and despite the chilly morning the day ended up being quite gorgeous.
We were then moved, by bus, back to the F.O.B. where we had chow and a little personal time.
It was dark so fast that I had to "bathe" and change clothes, arrange my stuff and roll out my sleeping bag in the pitch dark. Joy!
It is a bitter cold night and I have fireguard in the middle of the night. Brrrr! Someone said our nights were going to down to 28° F! Mega BRRRR!
Mon. Oct. 19
This morning was super chilly. We can see our breath but not feel our fingers, toes or noses. I have definitely been in the South too long. My blood has thinned. After breakfast we were told we had ECP duty today. ECP is "Entry Control Point" and consists of staggered barricades, barbed wire, a tower and weapon points. There is also a vehicle search area. Our first rotation would be to providce extra security for the ECP in case of attack. If attacked and in need of us, they would call us in over the radio. We would then respond as we would for direct fire. We posted at our patrol point and waited.
It was a nice break to stand around and plan our response, chat with the drill sergeants. It was starting to warm up into a nice, sunny day. We heard gunfire and soon after were called into action. Our maneuver squad eliminated most of the opposition before the flanking squad ever got there. It was a well planned response. We were later told that an enemy sniper had been concealed and shot us all dead. Oh well. It was a really good time anyway.
The maneuver squad was then posted at the ECP to relieve the other platoon and we went back to the tent to await our turn. Since security was a 24 hr assignment, we were told to sleep when we could. I napped a bit but was mostly just enjoying some down time.
We waited all day. And most of the night. Our ECP orders ended up being from 11 pm to 2 am. It was SO COLD! Even the drill sergeant was not immune to the temperature. (I thought they had classes on how to be immune to the cold, pain and no sleep but this is not so.) I was hoping we would get attacked just so the adrenaline rush would warm me up, but alas, nothing happened. I manned a SAW on the right side of the twoer facing the woods and pretended to shoot phantom enemy which were really only shadows. Bummer.
I was sure glad to crawl into that sleeping bag finally! Warmth!
Tues Oct. 20
An early morning march of about 3 miles greeted us. We marched to a range for another live fire exercise. First a "dry run" with blanks and then again with live rounds.
In squads, we went up a hill in a wedge formation until we heard gunfire. Then we dropped to the ground and the two teams in the squad used the 3-5 second rush to bound from cover to cover until we were all on line. Once on line we moved forward to a grey wall. Over thew wall we went and all posted up in various spots to hit pop up targets down range. My squad was very successful and we all got "go's". We had no safety violations and executed our manuever well. We ended up being at the range all day.
A motormove took us back to the FOB where we climbed into our sleeping bags. Cold and exhausted.
I slept pretty well despite it all.
Wed Oct. 21
Motormove to the MOUT range. It was still dark when we got there.
All day we practiced entering a building, clearing rooms, safely going upstairs (the video guy got us doing this ) covering a team exiting one building and entering another, how to use cover and concealment in an urban terrain, etc.
Once everyone did this in squads we practiced some more. Once night fell we donned the NVG's and executed our drills once again. Practicing direct fire maneuvers in the dark was the only really hard part of the day. I continued to roll my ankle on the pine needles, rocks, holes, etc. found everywhere here. I am not sure it will ever really have a chance to heal correctly. It just seems to get worse each day. I hope I make it to graduation.
Thur Oct. 22
Everyone is excited -- today is our last day in the field. Hooah!
Validation lanes took up the whole day -- along with getting everything ready to go and policing the area. I was a little tired form doing both my fireguard and my battle buddy's. She was giving me $40 though for one hour -- how could I say no?
Overall, I really enjoyed the things we got to do. My squad works well together and firing my M16 is always fun.
Our drill sergeant let us put our weapons on burst and fire off the rest of our rounds. That was pretty cool -- there was a a lot more flame coming out of the barrel than before. I could see it clearly in the daylight.
Right before chow I had my ankles taped by an athletic trainer for the 6-mile Victory March "home". My DS caught and bawled me out for going without his permission. I felt bad because I hadn't realized I had to go through my chain of command for it.
I had some chow and while eating, the DS told me to get my stuff together and get into the 5-ton. There were about 16 of us that were chosen from among the platoons to ride the 5-ton back to the bay. My DS and I had a staring contest -- me pleading to be allowed to march with my platoon. Finally, he just looked at me and said, "Soldier! You are not marching!" I couldn't help it but I started to cry. He came over to me and asked me why was I crying?
I told him that I wanted to march -- I wanted to complete everything. He said, "I can't send you to AIT broken. If you hurt yourself more in this march, which is not required, you would have to remain here as a holdover. You have completed everything. Let me do my job."
I understood. But I didn't have to like it! On the ride back to the bay, DS Potter told me, "There is a fine line between pride and stupidity. And the only better than going to Basic Training at 40 and graduating, would be going to basic training and graduating at 41!" He really cheered me with those words.
Once back at the bay we cleaned up and got things ready for the Beret Ceremony. Seeing our Company come around the corner was a great sight! We were at the top of the hill by the drill pad cheering them all on. I wanted SO BAD TO HAVE BEDEN ONE OF THEM!! It made the night rather bittersweet.
The Beret Ceremony was nice. A little ceremony, some laughter, and a bonfire. Nice.
The best part of the day, besides being called soldiers and donning our new headgear, was making up my cheap twin mattress and snuggling under that Army green wool blanket.
Fri Oct. 23
So this is our first day of recovery -- and all we have done is turn in, and clean of course, all our gear. It has to be all laid out in a particular fashion so inventory can be taken. Also this is the time for worn equipment and obsolete equipment to be replaced or taken away. It was a frustrating day with too many chiefs and not enough Indians.
And there are always those who conveniently "disappear" when any real work needed to be done.
Sat Oct. 24
More of the same, laying stuff out, counting, scavenger hunting up missing equipment, more counting, etc., etc.
The days are dragging! And I am having a hard time getting along with some of my battle buddies.
Sun Oct. 25
Church! Bible Study! Yay!
We also had to complete one more Battlemind Survey. [I don't know what this is, but I think it's some kind of psycho-kinetic exercise. -- ed.] It was hard staying awake long enough to fill in the little bubbles. Some of my little bubbles had stray lines... hope it doesn't mess anything up. :)
These days are so long. I think I liked it better when we were insanely busy -- at least then the time moved faster!!
Mon Oct. 26
Out processing! I fought to stay awake through the briefing. Then back at the bay we received our freshly pressed Class A uniforms. Nice!
Not much else going on besides the inventory checks, rechecks and more rechecks... I am not sure that process will ever truly end...
Tues Oct. 27
Today was Graduation Practice. In the pouring rain. We got soaked!
Wed Oct. 28
Today was Graduation Practice. In beautiful weather. We dried out.
Thurs Oct. 29
Family Day! We came running across the field through smoke and simulated mortars. Cool stuff!
Lynnze and Dani found me first. Then David and Mom. It was a very happy reunion. We hung out on post for the day. It was heaven!
Fri Oct. 30
Graduation Day -- off post. More heaven!! :)