Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Memories of the first day on the Job, Basic Training Prelim

I was thinking about when I was 19, and my First day of basic training. Well actually I had already been there for a week since they have a sort of holding area to get you up to speed on the basics for Basic Training :)

So let me back up a bit.

I was working a dead end third shift job, where drug use ran rampart and people would get injured all the time. My girlfriend(future wife) was a senior in high school, I had dropped out. My best friend had a passion to join the armed forces which since he didn't have a car rubbed off on me. He was unable to join due to an issue of attempted suicide. As I took him to meet recruiters one of them got to me and convinced me to join the Field artillery. I figured Why not, I was going nowhere anyhow. SO for the next few months I took the entry test. ASVAB, and did all the initial processing. I also sold my 1967 Chevy Nova for a new 1993 Ford Festiva. 2 of the worst mistakes I have ever made.
Two weeks after new years I went to MEPS. or Military Entrance processing station.
They shuffle you through a handful of doctors, making you turn your head and cough and drop on your knees. Neither felt very good. Next you filled out a laundry list of paperwork, And being 19 I didn't really pay to much attention to that. Then pee in a cup and wait in a room for everyone else to finish and take your oath. BAM Armyfied.

Then everything flew bye. Shuffled to a bus waiting to go the airport. Ticket in hand I flew to St Louis, Then on the smallest plane in the world to fly over the mid-land to FT Sill Oklahoma.
Another Bus, This time the driver was not very friendly. It was either because it was late at night or he was a career corporal, Which isn't a career, it means your not very good at anything military wise. Except for maybe driving a bus of new recruits.
As the town of Lawton passed by I noticed a strange trend as we got closer and closer to post. It started off with houses, and regular stores, But as we get closer to the gate it changed to strip clubs, pawn shops, barber shops, dry cleaners, and more strip clubs. Wohoo me I thought.
We passed the gates, Since it was way before 9/11 there were no guards on checkpoints. Just drive right on.
We arrived at another processing center that was basically 3 rooms. The first room I was liken to prison. Shakedown time
Empty all of your bags. Which I'm not really sure why I brought any since you do not see them for 2 months anyhow.
Smokes gone. That's all I really had. Again not sure why I broke cigarettes to Basic training. Others had knives, weapons, even a pair of brass knuckles. I started to think What the heck did I do.

Let me explain a bit. At 19 I weighed 135 pounds wet, Was not into fighting or conflict. Tall skinny and I guess you could say from a part of the states that kind of likes things slow easy and simple.

OK, So after the shakedown we were led to a long old building. a huge industrial fan was on one end of the corridor, either side were bunks with itchy green wool blankets, super white starched sheets, and a pillow I would consider more of a brick than a pillow.
That night the floor filled with other clueless adolescents, Until the next morning
5:00 am where we were all instructed to fall in? Not one of us had a clue. But luckily the corporal from the bus was there to instruct us. Needless to say it was a cluster. As the moronic corporal attempted to get us to march and in basic movements we slowly we able to navigate to the chow hall. The trip there was comedic, all 400 feet of it.
We were instructed to stand in a single file line, No speaking and eyes front. A group of 50 or so teenagers in civilian clothes with straggly hair and unkempt appearance. Standing eyes front about 25 people from the front I had my first glimpse of a drill Sargent. An intimidating large man with a southern draw marched a platoon of recruits effortlessly in a formation to the front door. I was in awe. They seemed to move as a unit. Unlike our gaggle of misfits. The drill Sargent quickly drew his attention to us. Spewing profanity and screaming like we had just brought his daughter home late form the dance, he proceeded down our ragtag line like a cougar.

Feeling uneasy enough, The chow hall food led to little in the way of comfort. Besides the 2 minutes to eat once you sat down, the food itself had a hard way finding its way down.

The next process was to go to the Mini post exchange with a list of items to purchase. Before that though was getting a paycheck. Strangely enough everything on your list to buy added up to exactly what they gave you.
List completed we dropped or new gear off at our bunks. To be processed.
Being processed was not a fun thing.
First was filling out medical paperwork, then we proceeded in assembly line form through a grouping of shots. A gun shot your arms on both sides as you shuffled from room to room. to finally end in a room where I was instructed to bare a butt check and prepare for a slight pain. That silver bullet shot hurt for 4 days.

Then to the haircut. I somehow thought this would be a non issue but was almost led to tears as the barber applied the clippers to my long blond locks.

ME BEFORE HAIRCUT the one with the glasses.
BTW the picture is from a skit I was doing as a camp counselor

AFTER HAIRCUT, Phew I look young

After this trauma, we were led to yet another building. This filled like a warehouse with everything a soldier needs. Uniforms, Brown tightie Whites, tee shirts, boots, socks, PT uniforms. duffel bags.
Again Assembly line style we moved down the line. collecting the necessary items until reaching a holding area where I was instructed to review the paperwork and sign.
Signing lead to an agreement that I was to use my next 4 paychecks to pay for the items I just received. That being said on payday I was accruing a whopping 40 dollars.

The next morning we were taught how to shine the new boots we had received. This learning experience led my boots to be ruined of all shine capability and numerous hours of fixing. Thank you ineffective corporal.

After the boot shining lesson, It was test time.
You had to complete 10 push-ups 10 sit ups
This is a very monumental task when never doing any sort of activity.

If you were successful, Which I was you were moved to another floor to be transported to the real basic training. If you were no however you were stuck in this time warp until you could complete it.

Given minutes to make a phone call, then shuffled to the chow-hall we were sent to the barracks to learn the basics of floor cleaning and buffing before going to sleep.

The next day was going to prove to be very difficult.

Thanks for reading. I start writing and somehow get caught up. I hope you enjoyed this snippet into myself.


Stockannette said...

Hello from a new blog follower! I'm gonna go tell the Sneakers that there's a cute baby in the margin over here ----->

PACountry said...

WOW! That seems like a really big change all at once. Thank you for serving our country!

MYSAVIOR said...

Hey Joe - fun read! Not so much for you though. Awwww. You should let anyone wanting to join the military read this. A good deterant. Now that Cole is 17 we keep getting phone calls from different military units- I know Cole is not into this but if he could only experience the first part and then leave-It would be a good eye opener for him. Real Reality! Thank you for being one of the guys who fought for us.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for serving our country! I know it wasn't pleasant - but we appreciate you.

Looking forward to reading more. I noticed that Stock focused in on your baby. I see a hat in her future!!

paintedmemoriesbyros said...

What a great read. My husband (he's a Joe too) and I want to thank you for your service to our country. We wouldn't have the freedoms we do if not for our troops. God Bless you.