Whiskey 188 Recruit Journal: Week 07

Formed: Sept. 10, 2013
Graduates: Nov. 1, 2013

14OCT13

We had a productive day today overall. It started with a few hours of firefighting basics, extinguishers and equipment. We are all really excited to do the firefighting practical tomorrow, as it will help us ultimately be prepared to fight a fire out on a cutter or even at a small boat station. They really prepare us for everything so no situation comes as a surprise, and we all appreciate that.

The best part about today was when we got to go to the pool and do a sprints/ core workout. Both Victor and Whiskey did it together, and it’s always nice when you’re not lugging around a rucksack and heavy boondockers it felt freeing.

International Maritime Signal Flag Whiskey

International Maritime Signal Flag Whiskey

Tomorrow is our manual of arms practical test. We’ve been practicing a lot the last few days and we’re getting much better, but we still have a lot to fix. Everything has to be timed perfectly with every one of us, all at the same angle, position, speed and so on. It’s very challenging, but we take a lot of pride in doing it and when we have it spot on, we feel really great. We just hope it’s our best tomorrow, without any silly mistakes.

We really are starting to get it now. We aren’t perfect by any means, but we have improved a lot in the last week and definitely feel more connected, willing, and able to work together. We believe the time we are given to practice with each other, teach and help each other, has also taught us patience and allowed us to trust each other and form as one.

All the dress uniform inspections, fittings, and lessons are reminding us we are already week 06. Time didn’t feel like it was going fast at first, but now, we’re so close to the end, it’s almost sad! But we’re very curious and excited to hopefully, after graduation, have a real human conversation with our Company Commanders- if they let us. Definitely something we’re looking forward to! For now, we stay loud, and they stay the way they are, but deep down, we all know they’re real people.

15OCT13

It’s definitely been an exciting day today. We had our firefighting class again, and actually put out a fire this time. Later this week, we’ll have another class where we can fully dress in proper equipment and use different extinguishers, but for now, this was enough to get up pumped up for more.

We did our manual of arms test today! It went really well and we were all so nervous. We’ve been practicing so hard and as we got on line to test as a company, in front of our Section Commander, our hearts we’re racing. The precision, timing, perfection of technical movement, focus, and volume is so critical in the test, that absolute perfection is necessary. We scored 09 out of 10! We all felt really proud, and in the moment, it was one of the coolest feelings many of us have ever had. Our Company Commander wanted us to get a 09, and so we we’re glad we made him proud. Even so, we still weren’t perfect, and still made some minor mistakes, so of course incentive training followed the test.

For the next 04 hours, we worked out. It was actually ALL really fun though! We did a company bike workout, followed by some body weight exercises, followed by a really enjoyable company run, which we love. We ran in formation and sang cadence as we ran. We have so much fun doing this, and always feel proud to run in formation as a company. The songs we sing are pretty funny or inspiring as well. It gets us all pumped up. After our run, we formed 04 teams and did a teamwork 10 lap track relay fun followed by a team pull-ups round, followed by a life raft/ rope handling relay, and more incentive training. While in push-up position, our lead Company Commander asked us what we learned today, and if we we’re motivated, determined, have the courage to continue! He said if we practice for perfection we will be successful. He then had us stand up, do an about face (turn around) and we saw our Colors! (Whiskey Flag)

We all ran towards it and started screaming, jumping and we we’re so excited! All three of our Company Commanders spoke, told us how far we have come since we arrived here exactly 5 weeks from today, and what a mess we we’re, but how much we’ve grown. They reminded us we still have a lot to learn, which we do, and we’re still in training, but that we earned our colors and deserve them.

When we got in a small group around our colors, and listened to all they had to say, we had such an amazing moment of pride, accomplishment and honor. For a lot of us, this is the biggest thing that’s happened to us so far. It doesn’t come close to winning a marathon, anyone can do that alone. It doesn’t come close to graduating first in your class, or getting promoted at a job. All those things someone can do alone. This here, at Cape May, training to be a Coast Guardsman can only be done as a team to be done successfully. It is impossible to do this alone, and we know we must do everything together with honor, respect and devotion to duty!!

16OCT13

It was nice to have some responsibility for our morning today. After morning chow, we had an appointment to get our identification cards and a class about career counseling. We were told where to go and when, and everything went smoothly. The rest of the day, we had more class time learning about our heroes, Coast Guard legacy and the meaning and origin of our ensign, slash stripe and so on. We also have another test coming up in front of our Section Commander, on marching, so we practiced and prepared for that as well. We definitely have a handful of people with two left feet, so hopefully somehow; they get blessed overnight with rhythm so we can stop looking insane. You would think when you hear left, you step left and hear right, step right, but it doesn’t happen. Practice doesn’t make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect.

Another big part about today was how quickly we lost some of our shipmates. So far, not including the ones who left or quit the first week, since week 02, we’ve lost 16 shipmates and we have 02 weeks to go. Today we lost 02, one male and one female. It’s hard to see them go, but it was explained to us well that, we all show up to boot camp on a different level, and those who need more time here to learn or adjust, will get it. Once you can accept that it isn’t to hurt you, it’s only to make sure you’re fully prepared and ready for your unit and missions it’s not as bad as it sounds. It’s hard for our shipmates to go back 02 weeks to another company because we’ve bonded, and also, our families are preparing to come to graduation soon. It makes us nervous because it only takes one little mistake, or run in with any Section Commander or Battalion Commander to have someone immediately reverted 02 weeks. I think this was a really big wake up call for a lot of people and hopefully a tough lesson learned. Only those that really want to be here, and are proud to succeed together will make it. Count on deck is 37.

17OCT13

Today was definitely a day for ultimate teamwork. We finally had the opportunity to run through the confidence course, which we’ve been waiting to do since we arrived! It ended up being really challenging for most of the company and left a solid amount of bruises on our bodies. Many of our shipmates struggled with the wall they had to go over, or rope to climb at the end, but all throughout, we cheered each other on. Everyone was very respectable and supportive of each other as we struggled through some of the harder obstacles in the course, and it was a good feeling to have that everyone came together and genuinely wanted each other to succeed and finish the course. Hopefully, during our next opportunity to complete the course, we all succeed, finish to the end and no one gets hurt!

Another fun teamwork exercise we did today was, both Victor and Whiskey had to destroy all of the squad bays. This included our gear closet of cleaning supplies, head and racks. We then had to pack all of our belongings into our sea bags, line up on the quarterdeck and it was the beginning of a race to see which company would finish first or break the record to clean everything up, inspection ready, and measure, organize and stow all our gear and replace it in our racks unpacked completely from our seabags. We didn’t end up winning the challenge, but it was still fun because the intention behind the exercise was to win the race rather than just remedial training for punishment.

At the end of the day, we learned a lot by working with each other and every day we feel closer and closer to each other. We have really bonded and feel more like a dysfunctional, completely normal family now.

18OCT13

Some of us finally spoke to our sponsors at our units today! Everything is all starting to come together now. We had most of our morning to take care of travel arrangements, unit phone calls, identification cards and so on. It felt nice to have some ‘organized freedom’ to take care of business as needed, including staying home to iron inspection ready uniforms and shine boots. It gives us time to unwind for a bit but be efficient and productive, which always helps things run smoothly.

A lot of our shipmates are getting their wisdom teeth out this week, or other medical treatments and surgeries. It feels strange when they aren’t here overnight and any one of us being away from the company for more than a quick appointment feels strange. We’re like pack dogs now. As soon as we’re separated, we miss each other. And if we’re in pain, or see a shipmate injured or in pain, we all feel it. It’s quite the bond we’ve made, and we’re praying every night for all of our shipmates to have a speedy recovery and get out of the ward soon.

The only bad thing that happened today was when one of our shipmates slipped and made a mistake; we all had to stand nose and toes to the bulkhead for about 60 minutes until they decided what to do. We had no idea what was going on, we just did it. For those of us who just got back from a great choir practice as senior company on stage, we were pretty startled and curios what happened. It doesn’t matter anyways, because if one of us messes up, we all mess up.

We did however, have a good evening with our Lead Company Commander because we got him to smile, then to laugh! We all laughed together about some silly questions our shipmates were asking about on base liberty tomorrow and it was another solid bonding moment. We all really appreciate and respect how passionate he is about our success and are proud and honored he is our Company Commander.

19OCT13

Our company raised colors this morning to start the day, which was an honor as usual. It always makes us feel so proud to put up and take down colors together.

We then had a tour of the small boat station, small boats and 210 cutters to get an idea of what our units will be like and have our questions answered about our units and lives after boot camp. It was pretty amazing stepping onto both the 45’ and the 210’ cutter and getting to go inside and learn a little about them. It made things feel even more real and got us excited for our next adventure.

Following the tour, we had our second uniform inspection of the day before our on-base liberty. We had to pass uniform inspection, and week 06 required knowledge including nautical terminology, fire types, fire tetrahedron and extinguishers and so on, before we could pick up our phone and go on base liberty. With the exception of a few shipmates either on probation or unable to pass requirements for leave, we passed.

It was a strange feeling to have our phones, but we took them and had permission to go to the exchange on base and purchase food, candy, ice cream, and use our phones and eat outside. It was raining, but we all sat there in the rain, with tables full of candy, cookies, pretzels, ice cream, chocolate, coffee drinks, I could go on and on. And we talked to our loved ones. This was the first time we’ve even seen our phones in 06 weeks. Some of us forgot our passwords to unlock our phones and even forgot how to use them for a minute. It felt really weird to text or type, but it was so nice to see everyone smiling and laughing on the phone while enjoying some snacks we’ve missed the last 06 weeks.

It was also a really nice time to bond and laugh together. We had fun, ate some junk, made a few jokes, took photos together and just enjoyed each other’s company without a worry. It was healthy, and we were grateful for it. Now we are back and locked on for tomorrow and week 07.

20OCT13

We love being treated like real people, like adults. Hopefully we continue to act like adults so our privileges don’t get taken away.
Today we marched ourselves to and from breakfast, the chapel, and back to the house for divine hours. It was nice to polish our boots, iron uniforms and have everything squared away, ready to start week 07 on a good note tomorrow.

After divine hours, we went to lunch chow and an off-base company run. We ran in ‘megatron’ as “Whiskor” or “Viskey” and sang cadence to and from the beach as well as around the neighborhoods and on base. People were outside taking photos and video of us. It’s such a rush to run and sing in a group of 73 of our shipmates and surrounded by our Company Commanders. We loved it and hope we get to do that more often.

Tomorrow we have our close order drill test and we need a lot of work, after seeing our practice today. Our Company Commander leads us in our marching and movements and everything has to be spot on perfect, loud, sharp and look as one to get a good score. We really want to make our Company Commanders happy and do really well, so it’s on our goals to score at least an 08 out of 10 and hopefully make them proud!

At dinner chow this evening, a couple of our shipmates, including our super fast eater squad leader, en route to empty their tray, forgot to flip over their cups. The traffic pattern to empty your tray makes everyone feel like bate as you approach the “shark pit” or what you would call, the Company Commanders table, just before the trash cans. Our shipmates got stopped because of their cups not being flipped and the rest of the evening, for hours, they had piece incentive and remedial training and got their evening routine taken away, much more than what they wanted to do this evening. Especially going into week 07, if we make a simple mistake like that, we’re toast. It’s scary, but they don’t mess around. On a positive side, we did get the privilege to have coffee for breakfast this afternoon! We already lost it, because someone forgot to respond to their roster order number during evening muster, which sucks, but maybe we’ll get it back.

We’re all pretty tired today and the short hours of sleep and lack of sitting down much at all make things more difficult.
Excitement to be the senior company all week and next will have to get us through because our energy is running low.

14OCT-20OCT (WEEK 06 SUMMARY)

Many things happened this week. It’s hard to choose what was most important. Everything we do has a purpose, so it’s all important!
One of our practical classes this week included fire fighting training. We got to learn all about it, and the following day, did our practical in all the gear with our shipmates and fought a fire. We individually used the fire extinguisher to put out a fire, but used 04 hoses when our groups went out and we fought as a company. It was a really fun and humbling experience.

A couple things we did this week for workouts were pool sprints and core, the confidence course and company runs. We loved the company run off base, and sang cadence the whole 03 miles around the Cape May beach and homes. We feel so proud and our adrenaline rushes when we run as a company, and even more as we sing! And today we ran as “Whiskor” or “Viskey” (the two companies combined into one formation).

The confidence course was tough as the whole company struggled to get over bars, up ropes and so on. It’s like an advanced over sized obstacle course for crazy people. It was nice to see our company come together and cheer each other on. Everyone was so supportive of one another and we worked as a team to complete it.

Our Lead Company Commander told us, if we got at least an 8 on our Manual of Arms test, maybe we’d earn our company colors (flag). It’s a really technical test involving perfection, precision, rhythm, sharp movements, position, timing and togetherness of all 36 of us, as well as our pieces and Company Commander. It’s all different hold, positions, movements and a combination of moving and staying in place and our Section Commander tested us. We got a score of 09! We made our Company Commanders proud and so they kicked our butts the next 04 hours.

Following our test, we did an hour bike ride, company run, teamwork run/ pull up workout, life raft/ rope teamwork race, and some incentive training. When we were down in push up position, our Lead Company Commander asked us if we were motivated and dedicated. Of course we screamed yes. He had us get up and turn around, and there were our colors! We all ran to them, and a few of us even leaked a tear. This was the greatest accomplishment a lot of us have ever made. It’s not a medal from a marathon you ran by yourself, or diploma from your school for your grades, it resembles effort put in as a team, commitment together, trust, respect, honor, pride, devotion to duty, teamwork, leadership and all the obstacles we over came as a team to get to where we are today. It’s hard to even explain how proud and honored we we’re to hear from our Company Commanders that we deserve our colors and worked hard to get them. I’m pretty confident is saying, nothing makes us more happy than making our Company Commanders proud. That was a gift in itself. Since we got our colors, we march almost everywhere and sing cadence. We really felt strong and proud this week.

Unfortunately, we had some losses to reversions of 02 weeks, yet again, but everything happens for a reason and as long as those shipmates know, it’s not personal, we’re just all on different levels and some need more time to learn before being fully prepared for the fleet, then they will be ok. We understand it’s in our best interest and respect that we all need to be ready to perform and save lives, whatever amount of training it takes.

In order to earn our on-base liberty this weekend, we had to test all of our required knowledge first. We do this every week where there’s anywhere from 02-05 different categories or packets of information/ vocabulary we need to memorize verbatim, and respond the correct answers to, when asked or tested. It’s hard because we don’t have designated ‘study time’ and it’s a lot of information to memorize verbatim when you’re not actively using the words, or physically doing whatever it is you need to memorize. Most of us get the concepts, but if you mess up “and” or “the” or a word is missing, it’s wrong. It’s very stressful because it’s asked/ tested of you unexpectedly most of the time, under pressure, and catches you off guard. Usually we know it, but if your mind goes blank for a second, you’re done for. Makes us miss our written tests back at school where all that seems easy now.

During our on base liberty, for those of us who passed our tests, we went to the exchange on base and bought full picnic tables worth of candy, cookies, pretzels, ice cream, you name it. We got our phones for a couple hours, made calls, laughed and ate too much crap. It was all very worth it though. We needed that, and the timing was perfect. It was hard talking to some family and friends though. We’ve been in our military bearing lock down mode, and in a very artificial high-stress environment for so long now, our families said “we’ve changed” or made comments that we didn’t sound the same. We hope they understand how tired and stressed we’ve been for over 06 weeks now and we will return normal people. We miss and love people back home and just want them to know, it’s hard to snap out of this, when you know in an hour or two, you have to snap back in and lock on. We need to stay focused especially now.

We’re almost to our last week! Week 07 starting tomorrow and as tired as we are, we are a family. A company that supports and loves each other, we work together, trust and respect one another, we still may make stupid mistakes here and there, but at the end of the day, we are in this together and wouldn’t want it any other way. The count on deck is a proud 36!

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.

Tags: