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

We should have known what Petty Officer Matthews meant when he told us we would pay for embarrassing him. Sometimes, the cruelest thing Petty Officer Matthews can do is let Petty Officer LaFrance free on us. So today, after our divine hours, which we spent diligently ironing, shining, and squaring away, Petty Officer LaFrance told us to pack up our belongings and switch squadbays with the opposite gender. Five hours of work. The rest of the day was similarly dismal. Fire Drills, holding random objects an extended period of time. It’s all in a day’s work. Also today, we began how human our Company Commanders are when they talk about the fleet. They may be fearsome towards us, but to the rest of the world, we are becoming increasingly convinced that they are in fact normal, well adjusted members in society.

Sometimes a group really is only as strong as its weakest member. Well, November is going to get really strong. Today marked the beginning of week 04. Week 04 should be about the time the company should be shaping up. So the schedule is written for more responsibility on the recruits. One half of the company went to the range (the source of most of today’s stupidity) and the other half took a variety of academic classes. It was actually nice to see that our training is coming along. In the evening we took graduation pictures. Dressed up in bravo jackets and combo covers, we almost looked professional. Professional or not, Petty Officer LaFrance reminded us how far we have to come before hitting the rack, and indeed, it’s a long way. We did fire drills, we held our pieces out, and spouted off required knowledge, but in our heads, we all thought of one thing. A month from tomorrow, we are no longer recruits.

Tuesday 16JUL13
Week 04 is no joke. At this stage in the game our company commanders expect us to act like members of the military at all times. If we do maintain our standard, we learn, train, and carry on business as usual. If we don’t, two things can happen, the individual is taken care of, or the entire company is taken care of. Today, both of those things happened like yesterday. Half of the company went to the range while the other half attended classes. For the majority of the day, the black flag was flying, which meant temperatures well into the 90’s.The day seemed to go well, the classes and range was a great way to spend a day, however, some of us lost our military bearing. This is not acceptable by any means, and we paid dearly for that. After chow, we did an “attention on deck drill” for what seemed like an hour. Following that, the females went to work detail while the males got a harsh shaving lesson from Petty Officer Matthews. A few pounds of shaving cream and a few nicks later, all of the males learned how to shave in 02 minutes flat. To add to the festivities, we packed everything we own into our seabags and marched them outside. Petty Officer Matthews then gave us 45 minutes to remake our racks with all of our gear. However, the catch was we had to take one item out of our sea bags, run around the building, go up one flight of stairs, and threw your squad bay to the other. I am beginning to sweat just thinking about it again. We finished off the night with some more piece I.T. and some silent reading from our Coast Guardsman Manual on the quarterdeck. Keeping the 700lbs (figuratively) book out straight out in front of us. Before we hit the rack for the night, Petty Officer Matthews explained to us why he “smoked” us all night, and what we need to do to get our act together and start being treated like week 04 recruits. I don’t know if Petty Officer Matthews was a football coach, but he gives one heck of a pep-talk.

Wednesday 17JUL13
For the past week or so, November Company has been standing watch on our Quarterdeck (outside of our sqaudbays). One of the main reasons we had such a rough night, last night, was our poor performance on watch. Well, we didn’t get better at standing watch as we had hoped we would. Frankly, we got worse.

Waking up knowing how bad we did on watch, many of us anticipated today to be another “beat down” day. Determined not to get run into the ground for a second consecutive day, we all gave 100% effort. From the second we heard “fire,fire,fire”; the three magic words. This morning was filled with classes pertaining to some of the decisions we will make in just a few short weeks. Because most of us stood double watches last night (as punishment for being late the night before), we were exhausted.

Another reason we got so “jacked up” last night was because people fell asleep in class. Today no one was falling asleep in class. Every time we saw a shipmate start to nod off, someone would tap them and they would stand up in the back of the class. At one point, at least 80% of the class was in the back, but no one fell asleep, so we were good to go.

For the rest of the day, we had what we hope will be the typical night. We cleaned the squadbay, had chow, and some went to ceremonial practice. Instead of punishing us for the atrocious job we did on watch, Petty Officer Matthews went back over how to conduct watch. He didn’t raise his voice or make us push, but he drew a line in the sand: If someone messes up watch again, there will be serious disciplinary action, i.e. reversion.

After issuing that ultimatum, Petty Officer Matthews took us to the gym for a bike workout. While we peddled hard, he quizzed us on our required knowledge, the whole time some music was playing in the background. This was a far better way to spend a night rather than sitting in sniper position for hours. We are all going to work our butts off for more nights like this.

To finish that night, the Chaplain made a squadbay visit and told us the happenings of the world outside the concrete house. Today was a great day for November company; with team work, discipline, and perseverance, hopefully everyday will be like today.

Thursday 18JUL13
There are times in boot camp where you put your mind elsewhere such as home, the beach (other than Cape May), even the future. But doing that helps nothing. You lose focus, and you get sloppy and demoralized. The best times are when you put your mind in the second your living in.

Today seemed larger than life to many of us. We filled out our “dreamsheets”: the paperwork to request our first units. For most of us, it was the first time we seriously considered life after Cape May in a while. While we did that, our Section Commander inspected our squadbays and didn’t like what he saw. So, we formed up outside of Healy Hall with our cleaning supplies and proceeded to march about the regiment, swabs at Port Arms, to clean Heads (bathrooms) of the entire regiment for the next 6 hours.

As our evening drew to a close, we were ordered into the squadbays adjacent to ours, home to LIMA Company, a senior company on base. There was shaving cream and trash everywhere. So, we set out, cleaning and chanting “Honor, Respect, Devotion to Duty” as ordered. This time, however, something came together and we worked as a team and got the job done without complaints. It has been a long road to the halfway point..but we made it here, finally as one big jacked-up family. Semper Paratus.

Saturday 20JUL13
These past 72 hours have been a turning point for N-188. We are working together as a team and starting to act like Coast Guardsmen. The beginning of week 04 started like an ordinary week with us screwing up and then playing “reindeer games” all night. Now we are learning more and starting to have fun.

Today was our first day with pugil sticks. We all went out to the track and first learned out to beat each other. Petty Officer Luedecke was our instructor, and told us hits would only count if they had “beef” to them. Rest assured, we followed his order and pounded each other. It was a blast cheering on our shipmates while Petty Officer LaFrance’s side got the same motivating pep-talked “Beat the snot out of them”.

It was a solid morning. After lunch, we had class on watchstanding and enlisted reviews, something we are all going to have to complete for the rest of our Coast Guard careers. Everywhere we marched today, we were not lead by a company commander, but a shipmate called cadence and “drove” the company. We are now looking, acting, and sounding like a company. In no time we will be walking around the regiment like we own the place.

Sunday 21JUL13
Now that our formative early weeks of training are complete, someone decided that we needed more responsibility. Now, with that, we get more freedom. However, it is more scary to see our company run by recruits in the morning. The possibilities are endless for screw-ups, and screw-ups means push-ups. Today was 5 hours of uninterrupted divine hours. Always nice. Following divine hours, we saw a shipmate wash-out. After we bid our comrade fairwell, we had the great privledge of an off-base run.

The simple act of leaving the gates of TRACEN Cape May was exhilarating. We ran through the town of Cape May, singing cadences while passersby clapped, smiled, and took videos of us. It was really awesome to be reminded of why we’re here – serving people. There were a few large red, white, and blue, “Thank You” posters, and all of us felt a little chill. Tomorrow begins week 05 – “SAR WEEK (Search and Rescue).”There will be tougher time objectives, critical classes, and most likely lots of workouts. What could be more fun? Even better, we have an inspection by the Battalion Commander tomorrow. Last time we had one, half a dozen people g tot RAMP (Recruit Aptitude Motivational Program). Tomorrow, the lions will be hungry, and nobody knows who the sickest gazelles are anymore.

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.