Recruit Journal Tango 188 Week:03

Recruit Journal Tango 188 Week:03
Formed: August 20, 2013
Graduate: October 11, 2013


Sunday 08: We made it to divine hours. We have from 0800 until1300 to get our racks squared away, shine our boondockers, study, iron uniforms, write and read letters and clean. It is a chance to get organized and the time is free of classroom and physical training. After divine hours we went to the gym for a circuit training exercise lead by Chief Blackman. Chief Blackman’s enthusiasm during this workout makes it an enjoyable time for the company. He joined us for the second round. He does not just tell us what to do, he practices it as well. He lives and breathes the Coast Guard with pride. We left the workout feeling fulfilled and successful.

Over the course of the week, our teamwork has improved in leaps and bounds. It is sometimes a “two steps forward, one step back” concept, but progress prevails. We are starting to make time deadlines, which was rare a week ago. We are louder. We are stronger. Everyone was tested on their required knowledge. Those who did not pass (only a few) are now on probation. Many were concerned that they would not pass, but I think they surprised themselves. The company is beginning to discover what they are capable of doing. This is an eye opener for many.

As we get into next week, our teamwork, patience, devotion to duty and mental acuity will be tested each day. These challenges will make us stronger. The company is enthusiastic for week 04. This week brings our mid-term exam, physical fitness test, dream sheets and additional required knowledge. A big week ahead that will be tackled with eager hearts.

Monday 09: For some reason, every night so far, I’ve been dreaming about the position of attention. In this dream I’ve been incorrectly lying on my bed and a company commander keeps correcting my posture. Apparently this whole time I’ve been mumbling “Aye, Aye Sir” at random moments during the night. My shipmates think I have even shouted it a few times. I’m taking this military stuff to heart.

I think this same idea could be applied as a summary of our day today. We spent a great deal of time at the armory learning about the Coast Guard handgun, safety rules, piece nomenclature and participated in a simulated test fire. Some received expert scores, the majority received marksman. I failed…. Those of us who had never handled a piece before have a lot to learn; even how to hold the piece. The instructor to recruit ration was 03 to 01 so everyone had a lot of personal attention. Those who did not qualify had a second chance and some additional instruction unfortunately.

For someone who has not used a range simulator before, it is pretty technological. The targets are computer graphics. We used non-moving targets at 15 and 25 yards. The magazines are filled with air pumps. The shot correlate to the program in a computer system which marks were you are aiming. Your score is tallied automatically. Very Cool! It is nice for beginners because the noise is much softer and what we are doing incorrectly could be evaluated quickly and efficiently.

We had our professional pictures today. We wore the Bravo jacket and cover. Although not sized and a loaner, it was exciting to see ourselves dressed up. We placed our orders for pictures and Coast Guard rings.

The next cycle of recruits have been selected for RAMP(Recruit Aptitude Motivational Program), which will run Tuesday through Friday. All were selected for different reasons; all have areas they need to improve on.

Throughout all this, the company has presented a more squared-away appearance. Boondockers have become mirror like as our skills increase; when questioned about required knowledge; most recruits have been able to come up with the right answers. Although we are not perfect, and still miss time objectives, when brought together, the company finds words to comfort each other. During prayer, our shipmates prayed for the strength to continue and for the recruits going to RAMP to return motivated and stronger.

Tuesday 10: We made it to Tuesday of week 04. This week will either bring out the worst or best of each person. This week we have to learn a lot of required knowledge. We are making progress as a whole, but we still have so much to learn. I know we can do it.

Today has also had some minor set-backs. The company was finally starting to be loud and fast and then we got complacent. We got yelled at and had to do IT (incentive training). We need to learn to continue to be better. Not just when the Company Commanders are around.

An exciting part of the day was that we received our Coast Guard e-mails. This made us feel like we are slowly becoming military members. Towards the end of the night our company started to come together and we became faster and louder. We need to always remember the reason why we joined. To remember there is always another day.

Wednesday 11: Tonight I sit here reflecting on the day and how as a company we make progress every day, and I realize it is the little things that are holding us back. Tonight was the worst night ever. It was the first night ever that Chief Blackman told the females that he was disappointed in us. Disappointment is not the word you want to hear. We as a company have a lot more to learn. We need to come together and figure out that our CC’s are not here to hurt us, but to help us. We are taking steps in the right direction. We just need them to remain forward.

Throughout the day the company has made achievements. The company as a whole earned our marksmanship pennant with an average score of 118. As a company we also passed our physical fitness test.

Thursday 12: I would like to take a moment and detail what we have been referring to as RAMP. I have returned this evening from the most recent session. People get sent to RAMP for many reasons. Some do not show a sense of urgency or motivation, some do not sound off, utilize team work, apply attention to detail, memorize required knowledge, etc… Each person sent to RAMP must pack all their belongings in to their seabags and head across the regiment to Healy Hall. From the moment you arrive, you hit the ground running for hours…..and hours…..and hours!

This consists of sprinting and continues with calisthenics. There are also team building exercises. We had to put our seabgs in life boats and carry them on our shoulders. We had to roll logs around the regiment hand over hand. We had to hold up each other’s pieces in a circle at eye level. The pieces weigh about 9lbs. It may not sound like much, but if you do it for what seems like forever, they get really heavy! We had to lift lines over our head from side to side. We ran fire drill after fire drill. If this sounds intense, IT WAS! What did we learn? We learned Honor, Respect and Devotion to Duty. We learned it is impossible to do things without team work. A positive attitude makes the world of difference. We learned to challenge ourselves past what we think we are capable of.

NO ONE looks forward to RAMP, but everyone gains something from it!
Today we took a test in Seamanship. We did the Helmsman simulator. Recruits did much better this time. Last time, we had difficulty with advisement, which is the last part of the process. The process is command, repeat, act and advice. You get the command, you repeat it, you perform the required helm action and then you advise once the ships rudder has achieved what was specified. No ship crashes today!

Our company also filled out dream sheets today. Recruits are very excited as we wait to hear back. Each recruit gets 03 requests. Requests vary mostly by desired location, but also by those that would like to be on cutters or small boat stations. It felt like a huge step in our training

Friday the 13th; the only thing scary about today is the CC’s walking the regiment. Who needs it to be Friday the 13th? THIS IS EVERYDAY!
Today marks another graduation; this time Quebec-188 has completed training. Chief Blackman complemented our marching today. Improvement was seen! Previously people in the rear of the formation could not hear Chief Blackman’s cadence. Today one of our shipmates was instructed to call a cadence in the rear. It made the difference.

Today we took our mid-term exam in the Learning Resource Center. It was a 50 question exam and we were allowed to use our books. Although it was timed, we need to have a general sense of where topics were located and have a good handle of the material. Everyone in TANGO passed.

Recruits began testing out on required knowledge. It includes pay grades, rates and ranks, collar devices, shoulder boards, piece nomenclature and the purpose for Manual of Arms movements. As a company, we will be performing in front of the Section Commander in the near future. The company is nervous, but through practice we get better every day. We have been practicing in formation as well as individual cells. The cell is nice because we can correct small mistakes of the person across from us. It is good team work.

At afternoon chow today we were joined by several Senior and Master Chiefs from the Senior Enlisted Advisory Committee. Before they sat down, we were entirely nervous. We were afraid to break the no talking rule in the galley or mess up addressing the permanent party correctly.

As it turns out, they are real people with real personalities! All were very friendly and encouraging. They answered many questions for our company about what it is like on the job, their favorite experiences, different ratings, and career advancement. They told us of the luxuries we have in recruit training today such as; our “go fasters” (sneakers). They had to do all of their running in boondockers! They also laughed at the fact we get snacks before hitting the rack. There were no “chewy bars” in the 1980’s for basic training. Something one of the Master Chiefs said stuck with me. He said, “Opportunities are there for everyone; the people who seize them and work hard are successful”. The company left the meal feeling uplifted and encouraged!

Saturday 14: Today was an excellent day. Our selected colors team performed the task of raising the National Ensign in front of the Administration Building. Our company learned the colors ceremony procedure earlier this week, in class. Chief Blackman emphasizes the importance of executing this task without flaw! Many permanent party members watch the ceremony each morning at 0800 and at regimental sunset. Needless to say, the pressure was on. Those on the colors team said they felt the evolution went well, but did struggle with the evening ceremony. The team struggled with remembering the commands in the leadership role. With practicing and less nerves I am sure they will improve by next time.

The company got to do pugil sticks this afternoon. Many have been looking forward to this day for weeks. Pugil sticks can be found through Google but I will give it a short description. Each person has a pugil stick which has pads on the ends of it and mitten like gloves on the handle where you insert your hands. You wear a helmet with full face shield and a vest and groin protector. Two recruits square off in a ring and fight! The winner is the first to three points. Points are awarded for solid strikes. For the first time we were allowed to cheer for one another during this exercise; only encouraging phrases so each fighter felt supported and respected, (core values are incorporated into everything). WE HAD A BLAST! Chief Blackman wanted us to give it everything we had. Hit and Hit HARD! Many felt nervous to do this, as we have never been in a position to protect ourselves in this way.

Once in the ring, we quickly got over it. It is amazing to see the changes coming out in or company. People are beginning the change. Recruits who came shy, timid or somewhat disheveled, are getting on point and becoming leaders. They are getting loud and proud. There is generally one person in a fight that walks in and wins the spirits of the on-lookers instantly. One of our once-shy recruits stepped in the ring today and roared! We roared right back!! He was an animal in the ring. I believe it was Chief Blackman who referred to him as a ‘spider monkey’. The company is excited to see confidence and personalities emerge through activities as this.

We were given ample time today for uniform maintenance. Petty Officer Lacharite did an ironing demonstration and showed the company some “tricks of the trade”. We need to begin looking sharp and taking pride in our uniforms. He also showed us the proper way to shine our boondockers. This cleared up many discrepancies in the way we were doing it prior. The toes of our boondockers are now a bit shinier. Petty Officer Lacharite walked through our formation afterwards and inspected us. We are going to need a whole lot more polish apparently. We’ll continue to work on this.

We finished the day with some Manual of Arms practice and some personal time. We have not earned much of this so far so the company was grateful. It encourages us to keep trying our best and reminds us that progress continues to be made. Until next week. TANGO-188 signing out.

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.