Recruit Journal Quebec 188 Week: Ø6

Recruit Journal Quebec 188 Week: Ø6
Formed: July 23, 2013
Graduate: September 13, 2013

International Maritime Signal Flag Quebec

International Maritime Signal Flag Quebec

26AUG13 Monday Week Ø6

Today began week Ø6! We were woken up 1Ø minutes later than week Ø5, but still have about the same amount of time to get ready so it’s still pretty hectic. But hey, it’s boot camp. We always have to move with a sense of urgency. It was nice to march with our colors where everyone could see.

After morning chow we marched down to seamanship class. This week we are learning about firefighting and different extinguishing methods. We’re all looking forward to suiting up and practicing firefighting sometime this week.

This afternoon we had a swim circuit workout, and it ended up being so much more enjoyable than we thought. We had to dive in the pool and swim to the end, climb out, and repeat. We probably did between 2Ø-3Ø laps; it was such a nice break from the usual bike or run exercises. After the swim, we had a contest to see who could hold their legs straight out over the edge of the pool for the longest. Minutes crept by as our legs were shaking, and feet touched the water. Those who touched the water were “out” and had to sit in the bleachers.

It came down to four, then we had to hold our arms over our legs and kick out feet. Then it was down to me and one shipmate, who ended up winning. It was a fun challenge, but a painful one. After we showered and changed, we went to another class to fill out a self-evaluation that was in regards to our diets, habits, stress, and hobbies. We will get the results back in week Ø8, but I’m not sure what it’s for. I think it’s just an overall score for your health and lifestyle.

After evening chow, we were allowed to go to the learning lab and research and call our first duty stations. It was reassuring to speak to someone at our units and learn some details about what to expect. Starting this week, we will be standing watch at Sexton Hall instead of Healy Hall. (Sexton Hall is where all the brand new recruits step off the bus and live for the first few days.) It will be kind of funny to see all the scared new recruits getting screamed at because just a few weeks ago we were in their shoes. It was a horrible time, but now we can look back and laugh at ourselves and our “dirty old civilian ways” (well, maybe not until week Ø8).

Unfortunately, we lost another shipmate tonight. It’s terrible to see someone come this far only to be reverted, but as long as we all make it out alive is what really matters. Hopefully Quebec will stay intact and we can all make it out together. It’s events like this that make us realize how important helping your shipmate is.

27AUG13 Tuesday Week Ø6

Today was a pretty great day for Quebec Company for several reasons. First it started with morning chow. As we were lined up outside the galley, Petty Officer Williams told us we could start having coffee. Praise Jesus, I thought. This day is going to be fantastic! And it was. Even my shipmates who didn’t previously drink coffee were lining up to get a porcelain mug full. We felt like a million bucks as we left to go to seamanship class.

We continued our firefighting training which was so much fun. There was a small trailer outside that contained a propane burner, and we had to yell Fire! Fire! Fire! (Like our CC’s do every morning) and test the extinguishers to put out the little controlled fire. Then we learned how to put on firefighting gear. The breathing apparatus was the coolest part. We all sounded like Darth Vader, and it was interesting to learn how all the seals and gauges and valves worked.

Pretty Officer Thompson referred to us as fire ninjas. It took us approximately 3Ø minutes to put everything on for the first time. Tomorrow we will have about 12 minutes to do it and then go through another fire simulating test. Pretty Officer Thompson informed us that shipmates in the fleet can put on all their firefighting equipment in about 3Ø seconds.

When a fire alarm rings on a cutter, the standard time to be suited up and fighting the fire is Ø4 minutes, no matter where you are or what you’re doing on the cutter. That’s pretty amazing to think about, and even more amazing to know that most of Quebec Company will be doing that in a few weeks.
After class we went to the gym and worked out with all the weight machines. It’s nice to work out in the gym with loud techno music playing versus being incentively trained outside and listening to a company commander slowly counting your reps for you.

After we worked out, we finally had our manual of arms (rifle drill) test that we’ve been practicing for. Chief Johnson (our Section Commander) graded us as a company as we performed in unison various drill commands. Before we were tested, Petty Officer Williams gave us a stern warning that if we scored an 8 or 9 out of 1Ø, we would pay for those mistakes dearly. We stifled our nerves the best we could and marched with our pieces over to Chief Johnson.

Chief McKenna called out orders: Left face! About face! Rifle Salute! We went through the whole routine and Chief Johnson informed us we scored a 1Ø out of 1Ø! On the inside we were all mentally preparing to take a severe butt-whooping, but after his words we were so relieved. When we got back to the squad bay, Petty Officer Williams let us have another “one clap.” That’s a total of two claps for Quebec so far! We’ve decided to name our colors (the yellow flag we march around with) Suzie-Q. We spent most of the evening preparing travel arrangements and learning about our new units. We’ve received a new shipmate from Papa Company. We hope she adjusts well and fits right in to Quebec.

28AUG13 Wednesday Week Ø6

It was a decent day for Quebec. Nothing too crazy happened with the exception of seamanship class this morning. After morning chow, we marched over to class to continue firefighting training with Petty Officer Thompson. We were instructed yesterday on how to put on all the firefighting protective equipment and breathing apparatuses, so when we arrived this morning he yelled “Fire! Fire! Fire!!!” And half the company ran out of the back door and around the building to the gear locker room and suited up as fast as we could. We divided into four teams of four. After we turned on the air flow to our masks, we entered the fire simulation room team by team, crouched low and followed a fire hose to the fire.

The room was dark and extremely smoky. At the back of the room were big screens with a big flickering fire on them. Unfortunately they weren’t real flames, but it looked kind of real though all the smoke. The four teams manned four different hoses. We kneeled down in proper stances and took turns relieving the nozzle man (the one operating the hose closest to the fire).
I felt invincible wearing the big jumpsuit and helmet and everything, until I got to the nozzle and my team behind me lost their balance and we all fell over. We momentarily lost control of the hose but quickly regained it, and then one of my shipmate’s air supply ran out. Everything of course was in a safe, controlled environment, but even so, it made us realize how dangerous real firefighting can be.

The little mishaps throughout our simulation may have been fatal errors in real life. It was a valuable lesson and we had a blast learning it. This afternoon, we went to the uniform distribution center to make sure out tropical dress blue uniforms fir properly; we will have another nerve-wracking uniform inspection soon.

This evening the company dispersed for ceremonial practice, cleaning, study hall, and researching duty stations. We’re all staying bust and productive as we anxiously await week Ø8. We’ve got several more hoops to jump though first and we’re determined to make it together.

29AUG13 Thursday Week Ø6

It’s been a busy day for Quebec. We spent the entire day up until afternoon chow getting our military identification cards and receiving career counseling. The career counseling was incredibly insightful; I think most of the company is forming a new career plan now that we’ve been thoroughly informed about schooling, jobs we can take in the civilian world, and a better understanding of the coast guard jobs. There are tons of great opportunities and programs for us coasties to enroll in that we had no idea about. The identification card issuing was not as thrilling, however. I think the company would unanimously say that the picture on our cards is the worst photo taken in the history of our lives.

As I awaited my turn, the looks on my shipmate’s faces were priceless when they were handed their new cards. I think the females are a little more upset about it since our hair is slicked back with gel; we have no makeup, and no tweezers. Personally I think the picture will serve as good reminder of boot camp and the many hard lessons learned. I will proudly show my I.D. to the gate guards every day and say “I would gladly go through the pains of boot camp and being unsightly to serve my country!” I don’t say that in all seriousness. Being unsightly isn’t a big deal, unless it’s distracting your shipmates from doing their jobs.

After class and I.D.s, we got to battle in the pugil stick ring again! It was a lot of fun; we had the battle of our two company yeomen. In a different match, one shipmate hit the other in the head so hard; his entire football helmet and mouth piece flew into the air. He wasn’t injured thankfully, but it gave us all a scare.

After we put all the pugil stick equipment away, we attended a class about how to move all of our belongings to our new duty stations. It’s so exciting to make such huge plans for our future. It feels very surreal right now, like the magnitude of the changes we’re about to make haven’t sunken in yet. I bet it won’t sink in until graduation day, and then it will hit us like a train, but in a good way.

This evening my company helped prepare the parade field for Oscar Company’s graduation tomorrow. I’m sure they are all getting “hit by trains” right now, and I’m excited for them. I can’t wait until it’s our turn. Until then, we will keep pushing to improve and pass with flying colors.

3ØAUG13 Friday Week Ø6

Quebec made it again to the weekend. A really exciting weekend for us because tomorrow we will have on-base liberty. But that’s tomorrow and it’s hard to get there again. As a week Ø6 company, Quebec needs to act really sharp, keep military bearing at all times and there is no room for mistakes anymore. Unfortunately we are only human beings and mistakes are in our nature.

Friday did not start well for Quebec. Another company graduated today and we were doing graduation support – standing watches and greeting people. It was hard for us since we are a pretty small company. And that was a great opportunity for us to mess up. Again. Right after lunch chow we were informed by our company commanders that we did not perform well enough and we will have to pay for that.

Our company commanders also got mad because it turned out there are some male shipmates taking shortcuts and not shaving in the morning. But it doesn’t matter who messed up since we are a team. That’s how we are getting punished. Everyone pays the same price.

So we did our favorite session of games: holding a book (Get them elbows straight!), and sniper position (Elbows up! Back straight!). We had a session of Fire! Fire! Fire! incentive training, too. But that did not hurt as much as what happened to our colors.

We still have them, but our CC’s make us look like forming company again. Our colors for rolled and taped so we basically looked like we just have a stick. Not funny at all, not in week Ø6. It just hurts Quebec to see our colors destroyed like that.

Our marching privileges were taken away, too, so we were walking to evening chow as individuals. And that hurts us too, because we find ourselves working better as a team every day. After we paid for our mistakes we put it behind us in the past. The rest of the evening we were working on getting in contact with our units and making travel arrangements.

We have only Ø2 weeks left and time flies here in Cape May. A nice thing happened tonight; we received our cell phones before tomorrow’s liberty. We held them for about 1.5 minutes just to plug them in and charge them on the quarterdeck. That is a piece of technology we haven’t seen for a while. Tomorrow will be a test for us and hopefully we will know how we are supposed to behave and we will show our CC’s that we are not only in week Ø6 of training, but we actually act like it, too.

31AUG13 Saturday Week Ø6

I’m sure today started with Fire! Fire! Fire! for my shipmates, but for myself and Ø2 other shipmates it began in the hospital ward. We had our wisdom teeth removed yesterday, and if you have a loved one in Quebec company, chances are they have or will have theirs removed, too.

Basically, they give you a ton of shots in your mouth, drill and yank around, and then you lie in bed for 24 hours and eat mush. It was terrible; it was like living a day in the life of a 9Ø-year-old, but without the diaper. Chicken broth, vanilla pudding, apple sauce, and a protein shake was the most nauseating combination of foods I’ve ever ingested.

Anyway, we spent the better part of the morning practicing marching and drill. This afternoon we marched down to the pier and actually got to step foot on some of the boats and cutters we will be working on when we leave. (The racks weren’t as bad as I dreaded.)

Then we got our uniforms pressed and neat for on-base liberty! It was refreshing. We got our cell phones back for about Ø5 hours, so after we marched to the exchange to stockpile on junk food, we all called friends and family. We sat outside on picnic tables and shared candy and ice cream and chatted away. Everyone wore big smiles; it was good to get a mental break from the constant stresses of boot camp.

At the same time, many of us felt it was a little strange to talk to the “outside world.” We’ve had such a different mindset for so long, it’s like we don’t even know our loved ones anymore.

It’s only been a few weeks to them, but to us in boot camp it’s been an eternity. I’m sure our brains will normalize once we’re not waking up to fire drills and screaming our every sentence. But that was our evening: candy and phone calls. We came back to the squad bay at Ø83Ø and Petty Officer Williams said we freaked out some little kids nearby from squaring our corners at the pavilion (we have to make 9Ø degree turns everywhere to look military, but it probably looks creepy to kids). If this next week goes well, then next Saturday we will have off-base liberty, which will be much more eventful and interesting.

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.