Recruit Journal Uniform 188: Weeks 05 & 06

Formed: Aug. 27, 2013
Graduates: Oct. 18, 2013

Week 05, also known as “search and rescue week” because of its hectic time objectives has been a difficult but exciting one for Uniform-188. We began the week with an Operational Dress Uniform inspection with Master Chief Berry, the Battalion Commander. We also had our radio communications class in seamanship on Monday where we got to read scripts to each other on walkie-talkies. It was more difficult than most of us expected to log everything that was being reported.On Tuesday, we went to the Uniform Distribution Center to have our dress uniforms issued to us. Even though we’re excited to wear them, it’s another thing for us to maintain and always keep inspection ready. Tuesday evening, Petty Officer Aulph made us do teamwork remedial because we haven’t been working together well enough. Everyone in the company had to put all of our belongings into our seabags and then had to line up, pass them from person to person, and have them stacked in a perfect pyramid at the end in under two minutes. It was really difficult because some people didn’t have their bags secured properly so things kept falling out, and it took us a while to get down a good strategy. Finally, after many tries, we met the time objective.

International Maritime Signal Flag Uniform

International Maritime Signal Flag Uniform

On Wednesday, we had our Seamanship midterm. We did really well collectively and then had a personal flotation device class where we got to compete to see who could properly put on the life jacket in the least amount of time, which was won with a time of 10 seconds.Thursday was a really exciting day for our company. We had classes and then the blood drive, where everyone signed up to try to give blood, even though many of us were ineligible because we’re still on cold medications for the crud. After the blood drive, Chief Gallego brought us all into the class room and put on a slideshow where each slide revealed where someone got stationed. It was a really neat way to find out, and we were all extremely excited to see what our future holds after these next three weeks.

Friday, we attended the ceremony commemorating the death of Douglas Munro. Then, we marched in Sierra-188’s graduation. We had a travel entitlements class after that, which answered a lot of our questions about reimbursements and how to plan travel arrangements. Friday was a very exciting day for us because since everyone in our company finally passed the physical fitness assessment, Chief Gallego said we could finally have deserts and coffee at chow. The deserts at the galley always look great and we were so happy to be able to indulge a little. As time goes on, we’ve been getting more and more freedom. For example, we no longer square our meals, say diddies with our facing movements, and we march ourselves places a lot of times. Unfortunately, Petty Officer Aulph and Petty Officer Williams didn’t think we were doing very well this week with our new found responsibilities, and the “pain train” pulled into the station. We did incentive and remedial training for 6 hours straight, leaving us all exhausted and ready to prove that we wanted to do better.

Saturday morning, we got to go the confidence course for the first time. We all completed the course with the exception of many of us being unable to climb to the top of the rope, but we still have two more chances to try again in later weeks. It was fun to cheer each other on and conquer obstacles that many of us didn’t think we could do. When we got back to the house, we found that the “pain train” was still at station Uniform-188, and we again did remedial and incentive training to “pay the piper,” as Petty Officer Williams says, for our mistakes. Week 06 is a new week, though, and we’re doing the best we can to improve and come together as a team. For the next three weeks, we have to remember to keep our head in the game and our eyes in the boat. Taking one day at a time, Unform-188 is moving on up.

We can’t believe it! Week 06 is coming to an end and tomorrow morning we step foot into week 07. Only twelve more days until Uniform-188 is off to the fleet! As exciting as our fast-approaching future is, week 06 has been a stressful one and has served the purpose of demonstrating that no matter how close we feel we are to the end, “it’s not over until the fat lady sings,” as our company commanders say.

This week, we lost quite a few people to reversions. Chief Hollenbeck, our section commander, has been spending more and more time with us looking for shortcomings. Here at Coast Guard boot camp, they want the best of the best, so even the smallest mistake could prove your attention to detail to be immature for these late weeks in training. Not knowing the Officer of the Day or other required knowledge, not having your cup flipped over while walking to dump your tray, having an unbuttoned button or unsatisfactory performance in any category has proved to be enough to send you back in training. As of now, Sunday week 06, we have lost 17 shipmates. Every night we are fortunate to go to sleep in our own Uniform-188 squad bays, everyone is thankful to have made it one day closer to graduation without getting pushed back. Though people say the later weeks of training “get easier,” which may hold true physically, the accountability standard we are held to has made most of us feel like we are at the most challenging time in training thus far.

One highlight of week 06 was firefighting training in seamanship. We learned the different types of fires, their fuels, smoke colors, and extinguishing methods, learned about the equipment and gear we will use in the fleet, and even got to practice using extinguishers and fire hoses on real fires in full gear.

Another exciting stepping stone for Uniform-188 was receiving our military IDs. Having something that signifies that we really are part of the armed forces is an exciting reminder that boot camp will pass and we will be in the “real” Coast Guard soon.

We went back for our second rounds of pugil sticks this week, which was just as fun as the first time. We love getting to fight with our ship mates and relieve some stress, and it’s always nice to have a company commander actually encouraging you to win your fight.

Saturday, after running a first annual 5k held on the regiment, we finally got our on-base liberty. It seemed like it would never come, but of course it came and went. Most of us started by getting our cell phones and heading to the exchange where we bought junk food and things we needed for the rest of training. Our company commanders even let us buy lint rollers, so no more having to use masking tape on our hands! Because of this, our lives just got a lot easier here in Uniform Company. Then, we all used our cell phones (which felt really foreign to us for the first 20 minutes) to call home, text, facetime, facebook, and all the other things we do just to say hello nowadays. Then, we headed over to the all hands club where we continued to use our phones like we would never talk to our families again. We could also order food there, most of it fried, but surprisingly, most of us found we didn’t love the junk food as much as we thought we would and were just really thirsty from all the salt we aren’t accustomed to anymore. At the end of the night, we gave our cell phones back to our company commanders for safe keeping. We can’t wait to see them again next week!

This week, the company commanders who used to just seem like people who wanted to ruin our lives, started to finally let some of their “real people” personalities show, which is actually a really big deal to us. As Chief Gallego says, “we should improve every day,” and as we do continue to improve and become closer and closer to fleet ready, we get treated more and more how we will be treated in the fleet. Of course, it’s still basic training and we can’t act crazy, but within our military bearing we are beginning to enjoy our time with our company commanders. We are earning time to do uniform and squad bay maintenance, spend time on the computers in the learning resource center looking up information on our units, and pretty much take care of the things we need to take care of.

At this point, we can tell that our company commanders might actually care (just a little) about us as a company. It’s comforting to know that the people who have made such an impact on the people we will be for the rest of our lives don’t really hate us and don’t want all of us to “just melt into puddles of sweat,” as Petty Officer Aulph says.

Hopefully, week 07 will be kind to us and we will stay locked on and keep all of our shipmates together. Each day, we become closer and more like a family. With the short time we have left here at TRACEN Cape May, we still have a lot to learn and a lot to become. Taking one day at a time, we’ll keep on marching through until the end.

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.