Our daughter Amanda is in Army Basic Training in South Carolina. I have been posting her letters home because the experience and her observations are too good not to share. Her letter from August 19th is in serial form because it is 14-pages. Ladies in the group, be sure to read to the bottom for some good news. Click here if you want to check out Part 1 and Part 2.
I left you with a cliffhanger last time. Shameless of me, I know.
Part 3 picks up with Saturday.
Letter Ten Dated August 19, 2012 ~ Part 3
Saturday. Oh man, Saturday. What a HUGE day. It started with a 3-mile Ability Group Run (AGR). It was our last AGR before next Saturday’s final physical fitness test, so I went all out. I have to drop 20 seconds to max and I better f**king get that. I’ve been putting my whole heart into these runs.
After that we got all our gear and went to a training site called Urban Assault Course. That was a great part of the day. There were 4 lanes but only two squads from my Platoon could go at a time. The lanes were as follows: grenade obstacle course (not live grenades), an IED and HMMV (High Mobility Military Vehicle?) course, a Medevac lane, and a clearing room. I let other people do most of the lanes because there was only 30 minutes at each lane so not everyone had a chance. All this stuff is so freaking cool to the newbies so I wanted to give them the opportunity. I did the Medevac lane though. That is because I love that stuff and many people are not comfortable with it. You have to do a radio call-in for a Medevac and it is the longest radio report we have to do. I already have that bitch memorized, so I might as well do it. Every lane was fun and we learned a lot. A Bomb Specialist taught the IED lane. We didn’t have much practice time because we kept asking him questions about his job. Super crazy. Those Iraqis and Afghanis have smart sons of bitches on their side too. They are creative in exploding you from a safe distance.
After chow, which I ate in like 30 seconds because I had detail (that is like chores in the Army), we had a 4-mile road march in full kit. Now I know I’ve said we’ve had full-gear road marches already, but those are actually what we call admin walks. I just think road march sounds cooler than admin walk. An admin walk is a short mile or mile and a half walk to the training site. A road march is an actual training event. It wasn’t our longest yet, but it was our first with all our gear so it felt really long.
Road marches are my forte, as you guys know, so I get behind the weak ones and motivate them. I sneak up and down the ranks to get people going if they start to fall out. Sometimes I get caught moving or they hear me cheering on my Platoon members and I get yelled at. I don’t understand why they keep saying we are a team, but then yell when we act like one, and then yell when we don’t act like one. Make up your mind!! Regardless, I’ll be talking to my Platoon members and getting them to step it up. It’s the right thing to do. I’ve been smoked for it already, I’m sure I will again, but that’s just me.
So after 4 miles, we got to our destination called NIC. I don’t remember what NIC stands for. I’ll draw you a picture and try to explain it to make it sound as cool and intense as it is.
The objective of NIC is to use crawling tactics to get from a trench on one end, to the finish 150 meters away, in the dark, with live fire overhead. There were three towers on each side of the course with live machine gun fire. Plus, they had stuff to make other stuff explode. We crawled in the sand from the trench to the finish with absolutely no standing or kneeling. You can’t even put your hand in the air for help. One person stood up. Idiot. One person got caught behind an obstacle and couldn’t figure out how to crawl around it. Another was a Heat Cat. She didn’t drink enough water. You always have to be drinking water here. Like always. You will notice immediately if you didn’t drink enough.
We had 30 minutes to complete the course. In the beginning, I was flying and thinking, “How cool is this?!” It felt like the movie. I could see fire and stuff go “BOOM,” and muzzle flashes out of the corner of my eye. But by the time I was halfway, I was smoked. The cadre watched us through Night Vision Goggles, so they knew who was f**king up. “Don’t stop!” Oh, man. There were three kinds of crawls: high crawl, low crawl, and on your back. Sand gets into every single spot. My knees and elbows are rubbed raw. Eventually, it was like crawling on sandpaper. Thanks to Madre, I have stuff to take care of my “owies.” It was intense.
When we were finished, a crazy-ass thunderstorm rolled in. It was some of the best lightning we’ve had. We had to sit in a lightning protection area and it poured down on us. It felt great and miserable at the same time. The rain cooled us down, but also made the sand covering us wet and it scratched even more.
We got back to Bay around midnight. Imagine the kind of shit I had to put up with when I made the fireguard roster. Everyone feels so sorry for themself. I got cussed at and people slammed lockers. I kept thinking . . . we’re not the first to do this and we have it significantly easier than the people deployed. Just shut up, man up, and act like the mother f**king soldier you are trying to be.
When you are on fireguard, it is your job to clean the bay. It is shitty, but necessary. Plus, it helps you stay awake at that hour and makes the time go faster. We were all so sandy that sand was everywhere. You could have built a kick-ass sandcastle if you wanted. No exaggeration. In the morning, hardly anything had changed. I was livid. I always get up a few minutes early to double-check everything so we don’t get in trouble. I told them they would all have fireguard again if it weren’t clean by church. I would never actually do that to them because I know people need to sleep. So, after a lot of bitching and some more arguments and attitudes, the Bay was clean. I am awesome.
So that was last week. This week will be just as crazy.
Miss you guys!
P.S. We got our razors this week too! I’m no longer a gorilla!