Recruit Journal Tango 188 Week: 02

Recruit Journal Tango 188 Week: 02
Formed: August 20, 2013
Graduate: October 11, 2013

International Maritime Signal Flag Tango

International Maritime Signal Flag Tango

Tango-188 arrived at Training Center Cape May on Tuesday night. The bus was filled with anticipation and fear. An assortment of Company Commanders immediately invaded the bus. For the duration of the evening we went through basic commands and administrative procedures. Sir and ma’am would accompany every statement. This sounds so easy, but the combination of stress and overwhelming noise, such as slapping bulkheads (walls) and booming voices made this a nearly impossible task. When we went to sleep that night we were exhausted. A friendly soul at the USO office earlier that night had advised us not to mess up our beds and not one person moved a muscle in those beds all night!

The next 03 days were spent going through various medical exams, such as immunizations and dental. Everything we were learning or being told to do seemed impossible at the time. For each task we had to do, we had deadlines. We could not meet any of them! Friday morning we had our physical fitness assessment. There was mixed emotions on the way to the gym. It was clear after the test, some had prepared, but many had not. There was a sense of relief upon passing, but an immediate anxiety about what was to come set in.

Later that day, we met our Company Commanders for Tango-188. As we marched to Munro Hall (Our new barracks) our Company Commanders surrounded us like wolves around weak prey. Every imperfection was pointed out, repeatedly. I think everyone was quite intimidated.

This started a brutal weekend, but only because we were unable to meet their standards. Their favorite form of “incentive training” tool so far, was a modified fire drill, when the Company Commanders yell “Fire! Fire! Fire,”we repeat it and “with a sense of urgency” evacuate the building, form up, and then find “real estate” where we perform pushups, crunches, squats and flutter kicks, countless times!

We did this over and over again until we learned from our mistakes. It was extremely challenging. We also learned many marching commands. This seemed overwhelming at first, but they all built on each other. It’s amazing how much better we look in only a few days.

There are lots of varying emotions. Two shipmates left voluntarily and two were held for not passing the physical fitness enhancement. People are questioning why they are here. They reminded us how lucky we are to be here, as most do not get in to the Coast Guard and many wait over a year to get to where we are.

We are beginning to see that teamwork will be absolutely necessary. We are starting to try to work as a team but will need so much more practice. People are letting their anxieties get the better of them. Homesickness has set in. I know we will get better.

Although our Company Commanders are constantly yelling and putting us through the wringer, several things are clear. It is evident that each truly care about our success. Each exudes immense pride in this organization. I always feel safe and I always feel respected. I am extremely grateful for this opportunity as well as my shipmates. We start this next week with determination and uplifted spirits after completing indoctrination weekend, Week 01.

Today felt like an extremely long day. We again began our day by jumping out of bed to “Fire! Fire! Fire!” We pushed ourselves hard physically today. Between calisthenics, an introduction to cybex workout and endless Incentive Training. We pushed ourselves hard. We attended a stress management course at the chapel which helped up to relax a little, but just for a few minutes.

The Chaplain said our Company had the hoarsest voices he had ever heard. Many of us have lost our voices from screaming our responses. We are learning to respond and then react. Most of us have been raised to respond while reacting so it is hard to unlearn this habit so quickly. We did improve our teamwork today. Those without a sense of urgency or discipline are beginning to stand out more and more. We are improving on marching, which strengthens our team. We are gaining privileges, such as not “squaring our meals”. Even though this may seem small, we are grateful!

Today felt like a really long day, yet it flew by. We started with our usual wakeup call: Fire! Fire! Fire! We ran our butts outside for immediate physical training. Some recruits started various programs today, such as injury prevention and remedial fitness help.

We had a very intense core workout at the gym and attended sexual harassment, equal opportunity and Coast Guard Core Values class. Chief Blackman taught the Core Values class. His sense of pride and commitment to the Coast Guard is always very uplifting. He is “encouraging” our company to get louder in our responses. Other companies blow us out of the water!! I am pretty uncomfortable screaming as of yet, especially to people in positions of authority.

I think everyone was brought up with the reverse standards. But we will get there! We are continuing to improve our marching though! Today we learned “Right Flank” and Left Flank” which is when the entire company turns at a 90 degree angle. We practiced putting on our boots and making/unmaking our boots countless times, as fast as we could.

With each attempt, we did get faster. “Sandbaggers” stand out more and more. For most of the company, with each time, we worked a little better together. Teamwork is improving. We have not been allowed to talk to one another yet, making it hard, especially when we are racing to get things done. It makes the fact that effective communication is necessary, that much more obvious.

We have a lot that needs to be memorized, such as our 11 General Orders, and the Chain of Command (From our Company Commanders to President Barrack H. Obama II). Our time to study is very limited. Those of us that studied before boot camp are extremely grateful we did.

Today ended with mail call! Many people received letters. Unfortunately, no time to read most, as of yet. A mother of Coast Guard Company H-188 sent a letter labeled “any recruit”. I did not receive mail so I opened that. The message was motivational and just what my shipmates and I needed to hear. Thank you.

We started today off with a mile run in formation followed by an intense bike workout with intervals. While we were working out we had to recite general orders and our chain of command when Chief Blackman called on us. We need to learn how to multi-task and think quickly while working hard. This will take time.

We are now being held accountable for our mistakes. After a few days of verbal warnings, performance trackers are issued, which is a written account of the behavior. About 20-30 were issued today. They can be issued for not “sounding off” (making responses loud enough), uniform discrepancies, not knowing general knowledge, etc. Too many of these can lead you to being reverted in training or to a program called RAMP. RAMP stands for Recruit Aptitude Motivational Program. We have seen people in this program and it looks terrifying. It looks like our current incentive training times twenty.

We have a rates and ranks class today. We now need to address superiors on base by their rate and rank. It is a lot of information to learn. We must know who we are speaking to and address them properly. We understood but it will take time; with practice, we will get it! They told us to use LIPS(Look Identify Process Speak).

We got our pieces today. We cannot believe how heavy they are. Just walking with it is a workout. For incentive training, we have to hold them straight out in front of us for several minutes at a time. We also have to hold them up and out for squats presses, etc. we’re getting strong. It was a nice feeling to achieve this milestone in training today.

We had a meeting with Father Fronk. We had 30 minutes to relax. He gave us outside information such as current events, weather, news headlines, sports standings, etc. We had an opportunity to discuss teamwork which definitely motivated the company.

Afterwards, we felt louder stronger and faster. With each day, there are new empty racks (beds) in the squad bay, but those left are getting stronger. We are only beginning to discover what we can accomplish!

Today started with “Fire! Fire! Fire” again. We descended our racks, threw on our shoes (go fasters) and raced to begin today’s challenge. We had our swim assessment in the later morning at the gym.

Most did well. It was pass/fail. We had to walk off a six foot board and fall into the water. Upon getting to the surface we swam 100 meters. We also had to tread water for 05 minutes. The idea is not to become rescue swimmers, but for the Coast Guard to know we can rescue ourselves and save our own lives in an emergency.

Details are becoming more important. The boys are being held accountable for a clean shave at all times of the day. The girls on the other hand, are struggling to maintain a perfect mold on their heads. One can’t imagine how much gel we have on our heads. Our buns have to withstand a full day of physical training. No pieces out of place!

There is a phrase we hear quite often called, “eyes in the boat”. It means to look straight forward and focus. Our company is having a tough time with this. We keep gazing around. For incentive training, we had to put a piece of tape on the wall, draw a boat, look straight at it and yell “eyes in the boat” for what seemed like forever (so we remembered to do it).

Something cool happened. One of the boys was relieved from the group of incentive training for being loud enough. Instead of getting out of there, he said he was not going to leave his company and stayed chanting. It was a transitional moment for us. The team felt uplifted, as one, and we did get louder, finally! I hope to see more acting of teamwork such as this!

We practiced marching for Oscar-188’s graduation tomorrow as well. The other companies looked really good out on the field and put us to shame! We are getting better though. It is an honor to have the opportunity to march in tomorrow’s ceremony. We know Chief Blackman expects the best from our company and we want to give him that.

People have been given extra responsibilities this week such as yeoman, squad leaders, mail and laundry details, etc. They have really applied themselves to these extra tasks. Yeoman especially have a huge amount of responsibility on an already very stressful course. They will definitely come out more organized with a strict attention to detail and ability to multi-task.

A lot of people were not 100% this morning; 100% healthy, that is. There were an assortment of bruises and sore muscles, besides scrapes, blisters and twisted ankles. Time will mend us, and we only hope it’s soon so that we can continue to grow and get stronger.

We were originally scheduled for a swim circuit, but instead joined the graduation ceremony. We marched with other companies, including the graduating company Oscar-188. While we weren’t as capable or as skilled as the other companies, we did well enough to earn the “ok” of Chief Blackman. We felt excited for our own graduation ceremony, but hesitant as to whether we will do as well as Oscar-188. Oscar-188 earned an award for excellence only given to less than half of all graduating companies.

After lunch, we struggled with keeping things together. A lot of the company is making connections and forming into a team. At this occasion however, there were what Chief Blackman calls “Smokers and Jokers” residing and causing disorder during our internal “study halls”. This resulted in IT (incentive training); i.e. push-ups and sit-ups. In this case, however, we practiced sighting (as a sniper does) down the piece. For its size, it seems extra ordinarily heavy. Hopefully, we will become for accustomed.

We then spilt up. Some went to choir and others attempted to keep practicing drills. In choir, our spirits were uplifted; it felt as if we were a Coast Guard family. Everyone sang out enthusiastically, regardless of whether or not they could hold a tune or not. It was emotional and many did shed tears, but felt relieved afterwards. Those who practiced drills were able to learn from the more experienced shipmates and became more comfortable handling their pieces. The night ended with a run and some time to read letters. Everyone was overjoyed and hope to get many more soon.

Today we met our company mentor. Ms. Ball is a Chief Warrant Officer and has been in the Coast Guard for 18 years. She answered a lot of questions about basic training in her day, post basic training, rates and ranks and military life. She also related to our stress and assured us it would get easier. She uplifted our spirits. We will see her again on September 21st and will speak at our graduation. She, as well as everyone else that has spoken to us, takes great pride in the Coast Guard.

We practiced with our pieces today, as we will be marching in the Sunset Parade tomorrow. We practiced trail arms, order arms, port arms, right shoulder arms and present arms. We are getting better but need more practice to get in sync.

We had our first rack inspection today. For the company as a whole, that didn’t go over so well. We had to remove everything from our racks and put it in our sea bags. From the quarterdeck, we had to run each item individually back into the squad bay and put it in our racks. The Company Commanders want us to pay attention to detail. Our clothes must be folded in specific dimensions and each item has a proper place. We are supposed to use our bathroom break to get the squared away. Many people need to learn time management skills, in a short amount of time. We are almost at week 03. The company is encouraged and enthusiastic to be moving into this week. The days are long, yet time flies by.

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.