Recruit Journal November 188 Week: 04

Recruit Journal November 188 Week: 04
Formed: June 25, 2013
Graduate: August 16, 2013

International Maritime Signal Flag November

International Maritime Signal Flag November

As time drags on, it is becoming evident that N-188 will not remain its current size. We have lost multiple recruits, some are going to form with a new company, and some are going home. Today was not a good day for November. Sure, we are definitely settling into routine, but the truth is, it seems that some recruits have yet to grasp the concept of “military”. Today, after all of our classes and evening meal, we finished our company’s move into Healy Hall. During this transfer, tempers began to flare. I suppose it’s understandable. November-188 is a vastly diverse company. We were interior designers, truck drivers, fire fighters, marines, and plain old high school kids. Today, we find ourselves shoved into close quarters and told to adapt to a new culture. That in and of itself shouldn’t be a problem. Our problem is “drive”. Some here in N-188 were born to get underway on a small boat – to feel the sting of spray on their face. Some lay awake at night wishing for the slow roll of a cutter. Still others daydream of hot pursuits and hostile boardings. They will stop at nothing to prove that they belong in the uniform we wear. Other recruits, on the other hand, seem less interested. They talk about benefits, job security, and things of that nature. When things get tough they talk of quitting and returning to greatness in civilian world. Unless we all come to an understanding, many more nights will be spent sweating puddles onto our squad bay floor.

* Company Commander Note: We have moved to Healy Hall due to James Hall being renovated. This will have no effect on mail if it was sent to James Hall. If you are sending mail and it is addressed to James Hall, your recruit will still get their mail in a timely manner. Please ensure the mail has the recruit company name (NOVEMBER-188) listed under their name. For future reference, our new mailing address is:

Recruit Company NOVEMBER-188
Healy Hall
01 Munro Ave.
Cape May, NJ 08204-5083

Being a recruit in N-188 is a study in contrast. For the most part, life is a constant drone of unhappiness. We consistently are messing up. Nothing ever really gets dry, we’re always tired. But every once in a while, we are able to find humor in our situation, and when that happens, nothing is too much for us. Today was that kind of day that we found humor in. Outside of our normal routine, we got to meet the crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Sea Horse, and saw what the Coast Guard is really about. Seeing Senior Chief and Petty Officers laughing with us instead of berating us truly gave us a light at the end of our tunnel. Our good spirits were not even dampened by Petty Officer LaFrance’s “intensive torture” in the evening. In true military fashion, many recruits decided to name their ceremonial rifle (piece) after the sweethearts they hope to return to. Carrying a demilitarized twentieth century firearm is horrible, especially after an hour. But holding “Brad” or “Meghan” for an hour feels better in our minds. While finding ways to stay positive may not help with our team building issue, it is certainly easier to be civil to each other with a small smirk.

Boot camp is all about the little things. Quite simply it is minor detail that makes or breaks an entire day for the company. Forget to turn your lock to zero, and you’ll find the contents of your rack spread across the entire squad bay. Show up late to formation, and you’ll be pushing concrete. Today was Sunday, and as such we had “divine hours”. While intended to be a change for recruits to attend chapel, it is “divine because they allow us the opportunity to mind the small details. We made our racks, shined our boondockers, and pressed our uniforms. In the evening, we marched in the sunset parade, a public review of the recruit battalion. While Petty Officer Matthews and Petty Officer LaFrance threatened us with non-stop games if we screwed up, we actually showed some level of competence. For perhaps the first time in our time here, we heard Petty Officer Matthews give us a compliment. “You looked good out there”. That was all, but it truly was enough. After unending negativity for almost a week, we felt like he had just embraced all of us in a stern, oddly paternal fashion. Hopefully tonight is a turning point. Just like everything else here, it was a little thing….but maybe it will make a big difference.

Yesterday was not a turning point. Today we were inspected by the Battalion Commander. It was an utter disgrace. Multiple recruits got sent to RAMP. Overall, morale took a nosedive. One again, however, it proved to be the little things that were our undoing. Once again, perhaps today was the turning point needed to get N-188 in gear. We may be sick, tired, and sore, but we have a job to do. At some point or another, things will get better.

Tuesday 09JUL13
The Cape May crud is in full effect. This morning, the entire company woke up sniffling, coughing, and ailing. November Company infiltrated sick call. Despite our physical conditions, we still trained hard. The morning consisted of a core conditioning class which left everyone sore, but feeling stronger. The morning was solid, but the afternoon took a turn for the painful. We were not on our best military behavior during class, so we paid dearly. According to Petty Officer LaFrance, we all ate a bowl of “Squirly-O’s” for breakfast. Also, some of the shipmates are having trouble remembering to sign back into the company log book when they return from a destination. Our Company Commander found a way for us to “practice” signing in and out while physically disciplining us. The entire company received a mock sign in/out sheet, we had to sign out then sprint around the regiment, sign back in, than do it all over again. The sun set on TRACEN Cape May, and November Company was still sweating and learning. Before turning the lights off for the night, Petty Officer LaFrance left us with the words “Tomorrow is a new day November”.

Wednesday 10JUL13
The new day did not start off as we had hoped. Petty Officer Matthews intended the Company to go for a morning jog instead of our normal “cup of coffee” morning I.T. However, after missing a simple time objective, Petty Officer Matthews unleashed the beast. We had multiple “fire, fire, fire”, sat in sniper position and made our racks a few hundred times (estimated) all before morning chow. The morning consisted of a cybex lifting workout. The classes are getting more and more interesting as we learn more about the things that we are here for and that will make us Coast Guardsmen. During a class about the Roles and Missions of the Coast Guard, Petty Officer Matthews shared a few “sea stories”. When he addresses the company the company in that manor, everyone instantly takes their minds off the hurt, and puts their eyes on the prize of being a Coast Guardsman in the fleet. However, our behavior in the classroom did not make up for our behavior in the morning, so the evening was sprinkled with piece I.T. and reciting from the Coast Guardsmen manual. We all went to bed, tired and sore as usual, but ready to embrace whatever was thrown at us in the morning. When the Chaplain, Father Fronk, visited the company in the evening, he assured us that things will get better, eventually. Until then we need to come together as a team. In no time at all, N-188 will be a force to be reckoned with, but it’s going to take a lot of piece I.T.

Thursday 11JUL13
We were awoken this morning by the all too familiar “FIRE, FIRE, FIRE” of Petty Officer LaFrance. We got going quickly, and completed a few time objectives, so we got to practice some Manual of Arms before chow. Some members of the company did not learn the new maneuvers the night before, so those that learned it, taught the other recruits. The spirit of teamwork was high in the squad bay this morning. For our morning class, we learned about the Code of Conduct, a guide that instructs all military members what to do if and when captured. It was a great class that left everyone feeling patriotic and proud to be a Coast Guardsman. We have our first Seamanship class today. The things we will learn here will be directly useful in just a few weeks when we enter the fleet. When we returned back to the house (squad bays), we were awe stricken by the condition of our squad bays. Gear was tossed everywhere, toilet paper was hanging from the ceiling, shaving cream was sprayed everywhere, and all of our shoes were tied together. To add to the fun, we were given 20 minutes to fix everything. Once we got over the total destruction and havoc, we quickly worked as a team to get it done. But our night only got tougher from there. Before we called it a night, we had about 06 “fire drills” and ran around Healy Hall at least 05 times, multiple piece I.T. sessions, did some “up-down” with our canteens, and right faced saying “Honor, Respect, Devotion to Duty” for a good 45 minutes. As tough as it is, the company is trying to keep a positive attitude and keep working hard. Last week, Petty Officer LaFrance called us “Slow-vember”, because we moved slow and without a sense of urgency. If we keep working as hard as we did today, we will soon be known as “No-Quit-November”.

Friday 12JUL13

Our fabulous Friday dawned gray and rainy. However, the recruits of N-188 welcomed back their wayward “RAMP” brethren. RAMP, designed to correct recruit deficiencies, was we describe as “Recruit annihilation and mutilation program,” but its true meaning is, Recruit Aptitude and Motivational Program. After those joyful reunions, November atttended a class on Coast Guard vessels and aircraft. With week 05, and subsequently receiving orders on our minds, we found ourselves contemplating life on each of the ships that flashed up on the screen. When sleep patrol boats were up, grins could be seen lurking behind a thin veil of military bearing. When the instructor showed up a Coastal Buoy Tender, however, we all looked a tad dismayed… 02 weeks until fate sends us where it wants. Our day ended remarkably well. We had time to clean, read letters, and straighten ourselves out. True to form, however, Petty Officer Matthews bid us all goodnight with the words “This was your one night. You haven’t come close to earning this”. The guy really knows how to work a crowd. All joking aside, we’re really growing to like our Company Commanders. Sure, with their campaign covers on, they’re pretty much total chaos. However, when they take them off, they become a stern superior, passing down wisdom and sea stories. Petty Officer LaFrance breathing down your neck almost seems natural. They are starting to grow on us, we hoped we are starting to grow on them.

Saturday 13JUL13
By now, we’ve figured out most of our Company Commander’s mind games. However, there are a few we haven’t quite mastered. Today we got exposed to a few. Most of the day was actually quite pleasant. We spent all day in the seamanship classroom, learning….well for lack of more descriptive terms, Seamanship. No Company Commanders, no sweat. Then we returned to the squad bay for a surprise rucksack inspection. Surprise inspection is one of the “Games” we haven’t mastered yet, leave you stewing in your own horror as you inventory the things you’re not supposed to have, waiting for the Company Commander to call your name. Following that, our Section Commander showed up with promises to “make us feel pain”. He wasn’t lying on the pain. The Section Commander had basically the entire battalion, minus Oscar Company, out in front of Healy Hall, screaming and sweating. Afterwards, he talked to us about professionalism and why he had us out there. He talked about how he loved recruit training and being a mentor.

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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