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Boot Camp Diary



Boot Camp Diary is a first hand account of Basic Combat Training from the perspective of a trainee.  It is unedited except for personal and identifying information.  When that happens you’ll see ……….  Let’s read about a 21st century private’s boot camp experience.



Here are my first hand accounts of in-processing and the first 3 weeks of Basic Combat Training.  I’ve had to leave out some things and the day-by-day accounts are short because I don’t have much time to write.  As far as my personal feelings about basic, it’s not near as hard as I thought it was going to be.  We just got out of “total control” so the Drill Sergeants are getting more relaxed with us.  They are actually starting to treat us like people and not just privates.  I’ll be sending you accounts every 3 weeks.  After I get back… … …  we’ll get together and share war stories and I’ll fill in everything I might leave out.  It’s about time for lights out so I’ll have to be going now… … …


One Worn Out Private.


Week 1 – In-processing:


Day 1:  Two words can describe in processing, “organized chaos.”  It’s not that there’s a lot of yelling, it’s just that you have so much to do an so little time to do it.  You get your first glimpse of the round brown drill instructor hats.  Going over your records is so monotonous.


Day 2:  You find out that you aren’t going to actual basic training for another week and it kills you.  I’ve pretty much adjusted to this type of life-style.  … … … camp helped me with that.  One of the most memorable things of in processing is the feel of the hair clippers going across your scalp.  The second most memorable thing is immunization.  Luckily, I am allergic to Penicillin so I missed out on the butt shot.


Day 6:  We haven’t done anything for the past few days due to the fact all we are waiting on is to go to basic.  I’ve pulled guard duty for 5 hours today because the other 4 shifts decided to sleep instead of relieving me.  All we do is eat, sleep, and guard.  People are complaining about just sitting around.  I’m trying to enjoy it while I can because I know free time will be rare starting Thursday.


Basic Combat Training:


Day 1:  Exactly the way everyone thinks it would be.  Yelling, cussing, Drill Sergeants in your face.  You get smoked, skinned, scuffed, etc, all day long.  (the three S’s are other words for “physically destroyed”)  I been assigned to … … … .  I’m in the … … … Platoon, which is known as The … … …  That must be an omen since I am a big ancient Rome buff.  My arms have never been so tired.  The heat of Georgia is tolerable, but not for long.  Before your know it you are sweating like you never have before.  I HATE MY B.C.G.’s! (Birth Control Glasses)  … … … has given me knowledge that has really helped me out so far.  I’m stopping now because I only have 3 minutes to take a shower and get in bed.


Day 3:  Well, we go to the gas chamber next week, wonderful.  It still hasn’t hit me that this is basic training.  It probably won’t until we start all the hooah stuff like BRM and FTX’s.  We’ve had to memorize the Infantry Creed.  Sounding off with it fills me with pride, and I’m not even an Infantryman yet.  The Drill Sergeants said we won’t be doing many things other than classes the first two weeks.  Which sucks because I already know most of this stuff.  PT is PT.  Most people are complaining, but I enjoy it because I know it is making me more physically fit.  Man, my arms are tired.


Day 6:  We went on our first road march today.  It was only two miles, but the Georgia heat got to all of us.  We broke down into 4 man teams and did some Land Nav.  My group was the first group from our platoon to get back.  I figure it was because we had each man doing a small job instead of what everyone else did, one man doing everything.  My feet are killing me and I have three beautiful blisters, two of which are on the same toe.  I guess it could be worse.  So far, basic hasn’t been too difficult.  So long as you pay attention, do what the Drill Sergeants say, and keep your mouth shut.  You’ll be OK.  The hardest thing about basic is being away from the love of your life.  It’s not too bad when you are busy trying not to get lost in the woods of Ft. Benning, but when you are laying in bed trying to go to sleep you can’t think of anything else.  I’m not alone though, 90% of the guys here miss their “female companions” (I use that term because I don’t agree with the way they sometimes refer to them),  I’ll get through it though, only 14 more weeks.  Tomorrow we get to learn bayonet fighting techniques, Hooah!


P.S.  I still don’t want to do the gas chamber on Friday.


Day 8:  Yesterday we did Rifle Bayonet Training… Hooah!.  Thrust Series, Move!  Kill Kill Kill!  What makes the grass grow?!  Blood, blood, blood makes the grass grow Drill Sergeant!!!  I enjoyed it, but there was always the thought of the gas chamber in the back of my mind.  I don’t particularly want to do it, but it is something I have to do to become a soldier.  We got “skinned” with our pro masks on to show us how hard it would be to fight with one on.  My platoon is having some problems.  We have 14 leaders and they are all fighting for control.  That makes no one listen to them.  I’ve been quiet.  I’m just waiting for the right time to step up and take charge.  Quite a few people have told me they want me to be the platoon leader because I how to treat people the way they want treated.  Cleaning the barracks is easy, motivating people to do it is a whole other story.  Time for evening PT.


Day 9:  “Post chamber Report.”  It wasn’t near as bad as I thought it was going to be, but it was still pretty bad.  You walk in with your whole platoon.  My hands started tingling immediately upon entering.  My neck started burning shortly after.  They made us take a deep breath then hold it and close our eyes.  Then they made us break the seal for nine seconds.  After that, you put it back on and clear it.  Then they grab three people, have them take their masks off and put their K-pots on.  My eyes really started burning.  My Drill Sergeant comes up to me and asks, “Private, what is your first general order?”  I answered, “Drill Sergeant, my first general order is:  I will guard everything…” then I lost it.  All of a sudden, I just started coughing.  The Drill Sergeant turned us to the left and told us to leave.  We had to grab each other’s Y-harness and leave.  The thing is, the guy that I was holding decided to head for the wall instead of the door, so I pushed him and practically threw him the way we needed to go. 


When I stepped out, the un-CS gassed air was very welcome.  A Drill Sergeant grabbed me and told me to sound off with another platoon’s name.  I replied [my platoon’s name]!!! so he grabbed me and pushed me back to the door telling me I’m going back in unless I sound off with [his platoon’s name].  I replied [with my platoon’s name]!!! He tells me to open the door and I do.  He says, “Step in or sound off with [his platoon’s name].”  I replied with [my platoon’s name]!!!  and started to step in.  Luckily, he stopped me and let me go.  Within a few minutes, I was fine.  I can still taste it though.  I don’t think I’ll ever forget what that was like.


P.S.  Oh, and my platoon had the privilege of cleaning out the chamber, without our pro masks.


Day 11:  Man I enjoy Sundays.  We’ve basically sat in our barracks all day long.  My wall locker is squared away, the floor has been thoroughly cleaned and waxed and the latrine is spotless, so I have nothing to do.  We took a trip to the PX today.  Everyone was drooling over the candy and soda pop that we weren’t allowed to get.  Stamps are used like currency here in the barracks.  They are like gold.  Luckily, I have a whole book of them. (And I have a secret stash for emergencies.)  Someone mentioned that most of the classes are over and we will be starting all the hooah stuff soon.  I can’t wait for BRM.


Day 12:  Short and sweet.  Road marches in 950 plus weather suck.  Combat boots need more padding.  I’m considering changing to a 19K, M1 Armor Crewman so I don’t have to walk everywhere. (Just joking)   And what they say about it being uphill both ways at Ft. Benning, very true.  I don’t know how, but true.


Day 14:  Today we did the confidence course.  Our Drill Sergeant took us to each thing and made everyone give it a try.  The confidence course lives up to its name.  I didn’t think I’d be able to do a few of them, but I drove on and found out that I was capable of more than I’d expected.  Halfway through one obstacle a member of my platoon fell and broke his leg.  I’m starting to get used to road marches.  I just wait until I hear the command “Route Step, March” then I start thinking about graduation.


I just realized that I haven’t mentioned anything concerning chow.  Despite what people say, I think the food is pretty good.  It is so tempting to get in the short order line and have some cheeseburgers, but after finding out I shaved 2 minutes off my 2 mile run, I think I’m sticking with the healthy stuff.  I love breakfast.  After an hour and a half of PT, it is very welcome.  There has to be something in the food that makes your hungry around chow time.  I could eat a huge lunch and not get hungry until 1725 hours, when I was at home.  I could eat one big meal and not be hungry for the rest of the day.  Who knows?


Day 17:  We started BRM today, hooah.  We were taught how to assemble and disassemble the M-16A2.  I’d done it a “few” times before so it was a breeze for me.  While other guys were able to disassemble it in 2 minutes, I could disassemble and reassemble it with my eyes closed in a little over a minute, not to brag or anything.  I helped quite a few people out with it.  We had another map reading class as well.  I’m the guy people come to when they are stuck.  I don’t mind at all, I’m very used to helping out with map reading due to my experiences in … … … .  We are almost out of  “total control”.  “Total control” lasts through the first three weeks of basic.  Its explanation is simple.  Drill Sergeants have “total control” over what you do.  If one guy in your platoon messes up, everyone pays for it.  When we go to the PX, we can’t get drinks, food, reading materials, etc.  I can’t wait until it’s over.  I’m dying for some pop and candy.


Day 19:  We are in BRM now, but we won’t actually go to the range until next week.  I can’t wait.  I’m paying attention to everything the instructors are saying about it.  I want that Expert badge!  The Drill Sergeant started the marksmanship class with a question and a slide show.  The question: “Why is marksmanship important?”  The slide show:  pictures from September 11th.  It worked well to get the room pumped up to kill.  We also took a PT test today.  Since we’ve been here I’ve improved my 2 mile run by 3 minutes.  I’m running the fastest I ever have.  The cool thing is, I can only get better, AND, my platoon had the highest score average.


Day 21:  BRM is in full swing now.  We’ve being doing drills all day with a visit to the Weaponeer.  The Weaponeer is an electronic contraption that simulates firing and M-16 and a computer tells you what you are doing wrong.  All the drills are repetitive, but I do them because I know it will help me get that expert badge. (And because my Drill Sergeants told me to do them.)  I don’t know when we go to the range, but I can’t wait.


Hope that didn’t cause any of you old timers to have boot camp flashbacks.  The next installment in a few weeks.