Echo 195 Recruit Journal Week 07

 

Echo 195 Recruit Journal

Formed: Sep 26, 2017

Graduates: November 17, 2017

 

——— For Echo 195 Graduation Program: Will be posted Thursday afternoon in the Week 7 Blog

Go to:  http://www.forcecom.uscg.mil/Our-Organization/FORCECOM-UNITS/TraCen-Cape-May/

Under the “Graduation Date” Tab you will be able to find the Graduation Program

———

 

ECHO-195 Week 07 Summary

 

The brutality didn’t end where I left off last Sunday afternoon. E-195 reported to supper with fully packed sea bags, and orders to eat within 7 minutes. Right after shoveling down chow, the company was told to run with our sea bags into the dark night. Our company commanders were not done disciplining us for letting our standards slide and failing our section commander’s surprise inspection. “We are going to beat you up so bad we need to get away from the cameras,” they told us. On the death march, shipmates twist ankles, lose their breath, others picking up downed shipmates’ seabags… in such trying times, the company now does everything it can to support one another. At the end of this torturous run, Chief Heinze is found, awaiting on the beach. Silence. “It’s time to start acting like a week 08 company Echo!,” Chief Heinze reproaches. “You are about to be handed real responsibilities… you will be headed to the fleet soon and people will put their life in your hands.” And then, he continues: “I’ve been standing the watch for 19 years now. I was stationed here in Cape May, and I answered that call more times than I could ever count.” A long pause—the sky hints faintly of twilight, blue and red cotton candy, clouds thick, the wind blowing into our faces, while waves crash against the soft sand under our feet. Then, Chief Heinze breaks his silence. “I want you to know, that now my watch has ended. I’m passing on the watch to you.”

ABOUT… FACE.

“You see anything that you want?” Chief Heinze asks. Up the beach, a blue and red flag waves in the wind –it’s the company colors. “YESSSS, CHIEF HEINZE!”

“Well then, go get it!”

While everyone sprints with all their might to get to the flag, SR Woods and SR Armstrong were tied first getting to it. Surrounding the flag, the whole company started making warrior cries and screaming, “ECHO, ECHO, ECHO!” People were on their knees, many were in tears, and at least one person cried out, “This is the best moment of my life!” Then, the flag was handed over to our guidon bearer SR Foltz, who went on to lead the company in reciting something that was just as much on the tip of everyone else’s tongue—the Coast Guard Ethos. In this moment in time under the stars of our galaxy, it was as if the entire company shared one heartbeat. After struggling for weeks to be loud as a company, Echo had apparently been developing a regiment-wide reputation of really putting the echo into Echo—but this night E-195 was the loudest yet. It would’ve sent chills down an outsider’s spine to see E-195 full-heartedly recite the Ethos:

I am a Coast Guardsman. I serve the people of the United States. I will protect them. I will defend them. I will save them. I am their shield. For them, I am Semper Paratus. I live the Coast Guard Core Values. I’m proud to be a Coast Guardsman. We are the United States Coast Guard!

To further add to everyone’s excitement, our CC’s taught the company “quicktime cadence’s”. Songs to march by, on the way back to our barracks. Everyone was especially excited about “Chuck Norris” in particular.

As we opened Week 07, we became in charge our own wakeups so that we can then rush off to meet up with our company commanders for morning pre-breakfast workouts. One morning was a 4x circuit of running 0.5 miles, 25 pushups, 25 crunches, and 5 pullups with Chief Krusco. The other mornings were burning 1000 calories on the stationery bicycle within an hour; a 200-cal bike/20 pushup/20 crunch/max pullups circuit, and Cybex weight machine workout—all with Chief Vetter our resident iron-pumping fitness guru.

We also had our company commander debriefs this week, starting with Chief Heinze on Monday. This is an opportunity for us to start having a back-and-forth with our company commanders, like real people. It is also an opportunity to address concerns some recruits may have had about some of the seemingly-abusive training here, if any, and seek to understand the reasons behind everything. He explicitly allowed us to ask any questions, “no matter how dumb”. E-195 enjoyed nearly 2 hours of asking him questions about boot camp training philosophy and methodology, the fleet, and career advice.

Tuesday was another story. Both male squad bays failed inspection while we were in class, scoring worse than in Week 04. “Gear adrift” (recruits’ personal gear not stowed properly) was found cast away even more, i.e. thrown all over the place by our upset section commander. To pay, we were immediately given a half-hour Remedial Instruction by Chief Vetter. After noon chow we unwound doing swim circuits, where AST (aka rescue swimmer) aspirants and other shipmates that enjoy swimming pushed each other by holding sprint races. However, we returned home to an unhappy Chief Krusco and Petty Officer Fortenberry too. “Do you smell that, Turner?” the latter asked. “FIRE FIRE FIRE!” she responded, and we all ran outside for some Incentive Training. The disciplining that day wasn’t over here, however. During Manual of Arms training, one shipmate was found laughing, another falling asleep on his feet, and a third touched his face, all mid-formation. None of this being Week 07 appropriate, PO Fortenberry cancelled practice and turned over the rest of the day and night to Chief Krusco so we can get more of the disciplining we deserve for all our transgressions. We endured 2 hours of sweating pre-dinner, followed by 3 more hours, all the way up to shower and Taps, including screaming while holding out canteens, while in sniper position, and while being IT’d in our Gore-Tex jackets (serving as sweat suits) in the R.A.M.P. room. There, we found dreadful equipment aplenty that some of our shipmates have midnight PTSD episodes over, including full seabags, ammo cans, old M-1s, tree trunk logs, and metal drum cans—heavy stuff all meant to shred your shoulders apart and cause you to start screaming while everyone else sleeps at night.

Furthermore, our squad leaders each lost 2 hours of off-base liberty time for their shortcomings in getting the rest of the company to maintain standards.

On Wednesday we had a teleconference address by the MCPOCG, where we had the honor to ask him service-related questions he was most uniquely poised to answer. In the evening we had debrief session with Chief Vetter, where he shared his candid thoughts about his many learning moments as a company commander.

On Thursday, Delta-195 graduated, making us the senior-most company on the regiment. It has now become our turn to set the example to all the other recruits on base. One way at least a dozen of us in the company did to exercise this was on the galley procedures instructional detail for this week’s forming company. In case you haven’t heard about Cape May’s cafeteria rules, I will explain briefly here. Main points are, we move through the galley as if in formation, zero talking, squaring turns, running with a full tray in hand and eating as much and as fast as humanly possible. There are many more detailed rules involved that would take too long to explain here, and this is what the dozen Echo recruits were hired to “explain” to our youngest shipmates. Except that we explain it to them in the fastest, loudest, most stress-inducing way possible, causing only further confusion in many poor recruits. It shall all make more sense to them soon though, just as we take all these procedures for granted. Also on this day, the whole company passed our weigh-ins, so Chief Heinze finally opened coffee and desserts to the company’s great delight.

This week, the company earned another pennant for Seamanship. For the individual Seamanship Award, SR Foltz beat out the competition after multiple rounds of a knots & knowledge contest between top classmates.

This past Friday was another big day: our final written exams and our company’s Manual of Arms and Close-Order Drills evaluation. The company won the final exam pennant for high average scores this day, as well as the Section Commander pennant for scoring 9/10 for MOA, 10/10 for COD. For many of us, this last was one of the things we were most proud about, as it is the culmination of the military discipline and teamwork that we’ve been working so hard to develop together. We closed the week with Petty Officer’s Fortenberry, where we confirmed how much of a softy he is indeed.

On Saturday, we started the morning watching Chief Heinze and crew’s CGC Jarvis video on his first-generation GoPro camera. While showing the more glamorous aspects of cutter life (footage of open-water swim calls, gun-shooting, fireworks, hiking, scuba diving, meeting local islanders), we learned interesting things like how the space between the two main engines on a ship, where the MKs and firemen work is 149*F. And that on his cutter, there was a standing order by the commanding officer to hold fish calls anytime they were at <7-kn cruising speed. Apparently, the fish can be so big that they often have to lower their small boat to haul their catch onboard. We were also given a chance to ask Company Commander School questions. We then returned our M-16s—reducing the chances of further sniper remedial and I.T. (though Chief Heinze warned everyone that we could just end up using the M-1s instead—lest we let our guard down). At least our CC’s won’t be stealing unsecured pieces from us anymore.

This day of course was also everyone’s long-awaited off-base liberty. We earned almost 11 hours of freedom from training. Many shared hotel rooms with their shipmates to catch the naps that we’ve all been longing for. Some lucky shipmates with family nearby had visits, while others had a chance to get to know each other more personally outside the confines of our totalitarian training environment. Many shipmates returned early from liberty with supplies to make a scene in PO Fortebenberry’s office as a rite of passage, Echo being his very first company (to our great surprise). Please ask your loved ones about this day—safe to say, we more than avenged him for the squad bay mess they made to us earlier on in training.

This Sunday was our company’s last religious service at Cape May. Being the senior company, those of us in attendance went in our full bravo, sharing one last communion, and closed the service shaking everyone’s hands and getting congratulated for our achievement getting this far. In the afternoon, we finally held our pugil stick fights. Making warrior cries, many showed their competitive, aggressive edge, while everyone else cheered on. An informal tally suggested that the best bouts were: SR Metaxas vs SR Roher; SR O’Leary vs SR Grammatas; and SR Taylor vs SR Hedgespeth. SR Armstrong also impressed. Sadly, the highly -anticipated SR Lee B. vs SR Lee S.—the battle to decide the one and only recruit worthy of being named Lee—could not be held due to a doctor stoppage.

Tomorrow we enter our final week of training. We will all be graduating soon, heading home for our hard-earned leave then reporting to our respective first units real entry-level Coasties. As we will most likely be spending the majority of the upcoming week on administrative tasks, uniform maintenance, and other important things that nonetheless won’t make good press, I hope to share more about each of our company commanders’ debriefing session for my final entry in Week 08. And perhaps also a digest of the wildest and funniest moments of boot camp.

 

Editor’s Note: This blog post was written by a recruit currently involved in Coast Guard basic training. The thoughts and opinions expressed in this Journal do not necessarily reflect those of Training Center Cape May, the U.S. Coast Guard or the federal government and are the sole opinion of the author. Recruit Journals are written by personnel in a high-stress environment with little time, so please excuse grammar and punctuation in the above article. The staff at Training Center Cape May do not edit the journals in any way, so as to ensure authenticity of the content and messages.

 

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