Recruit Journal Yankee 188: Week 05

Recruit Journal Yankee 188: Week 05
Formed: Sept. 24, 2013
Graduates: Nov. 15, 2013

International Maritime Signal Flag Yankee

International Maritime Signal Flag Yankee

SATURDAY 26OCT13

After going through the hardest day to date, Yankee-188 awoke as a new company; on a new training day, with the slate wiped clean. Muscles sore and minds worried about what the day might bring, we locked on and began our goal to improve as a team. In the cold morning, we marched to the Confidence Course that had intimidated us since the first time we laid eyes on it. After instructions from our Company Commanders, we had our first attempt to tackle the course head-on. Our shipmates cheered us on as we flipped over bars, bear-hugged logs, and climbed the final rope in an attempt to ring the bell up top.

The course challenged us on many levels as individuals and as shipmates. As individuals, the Confidence Course challenged us to push through the pain. As shipmates, the Confidence Course helped us become a closer company. We assisted each other through the course by offering hands, extra lifts, and motivation through positivity. The highlight of the morning was our mentors, Chief Ewing and Chief Rady, completing the course and being out there to support us. It was great to have them join us in the challenge.

As the Confidence Course came to an end, we were treated with another highlight for the day. After changing back into our operational dress uniform blouses, we headed down to the Healy Hall classroom for a session with our company mentors. We had all been looking forward to spending more time with Chief Ewing and Chief Rady since our last meeting took place. They bring a fresh dose of positivity and insight into the world of the Coast Guard that excites all of us about our future careers. This particular meeting turned into a 03-hour session. Both Chief Ewing and Chief Rady were peppered with questions from almost every recruit in the room.

Now that we all had our orders we each had a plethora of questions that we wanted answers to; “What’s life like on a 378’?” “What will I do as a non-rate at a small boat station?” We covered every possible unit and cutter topic under the sun. Chief Ewing and Chief Rady slowly and methodically did the best they could to give all of us the most detailed answers possible. We are utterly grateful for them choosing to spend their time with us and guide us in the right directions.

As the session came to a close, we all felt much more confident and knowledgeable about what our impending futures in the Coast Guard holds. However, before we get there, we must continue to focus on recruit training and making Yankee-188 the best company on the regiment. That is all that truly matters at the moment.

SUNDAY 27OCT13

This Sunday at Cape May brought a few shreds of relaxation in comparison to what our previous days have held. In all honesty, it is days like this that are the hardest to write about most of the time. With no real epic screw-ups, the day was rather cut and dry.

Divine hours found us meticulously squaring away our racks (ruler measurements and all), polishing our boots, studying required knowledge, combing over our clothes and uniforms in search of loose threads that needed to be cut. You know, fun stuff like that. You’d be surprised how fast 05 hours flies by when you’re in the ‘squaring away mode.’

As the clock approached 1300, we suited up in our personal fitness gear and stretched out in preparation for what has become the favorite piece of training for many – company run. Yet again we would be heading off past the gates of Training Center Cape May and into the world beyond. The feeling of being overwhelmed by the external stimuli of the civilian world was less intense this time. However, it is still an interesting sensation.

Once again we charged around Cape May, proudly running in formation and fumbling over the words to cadences that our Company Commanders taught us. People clapped from the streets and porches as we went, adding to our feeling of exhilaration. It seemed like this time around the run was over before it even began. Our stamina is getting better. We then returned to our friendly neighborhood regiment and marched back to the house.

We arrived at Healy Hall with the assumption that we had completed all the physical activity for the day. However, when we returned, we were surprised by instructions to prepare for a session in the gym. A circuit workout that consisted of 100 calories on the stationary bike, 02 minutes of flutter kicks, 01 minute of planks, 20 pushups, and 10 pullups was created to challenge us. This circuit was to be completed a total of 05 times. We pushed through the pain. As Chief Arseneaux says about pain, “we like it there!” As we pushed through the pain, we realized Yankee -188 only had one more chow as a week 05 company. All that separated us from becoming a week 06 company as a matter of hours. The hours seem to go by faster when the whole company is mission focused, locked on and ready to meet the final goal. Our days in Yankee-188 always have the potential to be productive.

In the time that we have been here, we have learned that the training day is always dictated by our actions, attitudes and motivation. With the tough days we have endured, it will be crucial to take this knowledge into the upcoming week. We are ready to accept more responsibility and ready to be held to a higher standard. Working together as a company, we can all make it through week 06.

MONDAY 28OCT13

Well here we are, week 06. In this place that we call home the weeks go fast, but the days go so slow. It seems like we got here in the blink of an eye, yet a typical day may feel like an eternity. But hey, we have nothing else to do but keep on keepin’ on.

Our 54-day job interview may be over the hump, but it’s far from over. Each passing day the heat is turned up that much more as we progress in training. The beginning of week 06 marked the beginning of our firefighting training with our seamanship instructor, Petty Officer Thompson. That’s right everyone, we learn just about everything here at recruit training. When it’s all said and done we’ll be able to tie you a slip clove hitch, shine your shoes and put out your electrical equipment fires in seconds flat.

Everyone is noticeably excited for the firefighting training. We’re going to get to suit up and live out our childhood dreams of being firemen later on this week. From seamanship we headed to the galley for afternoon chow. We had to be careful not to bog ourselves down with too many entrees and peanut butter and jellies (a recruit favorite) because not long after we would be jumping into the pool for our swim circuit.

It had been awhile since we last graced the pool with our presence, and it felt good to get back in the water. A typical circuit involves swimming laps as quickly as possible width-wise of the pool, pulling ourselves out of the water and initiating rounds of flutter kicks. We repeat this cycle until finished. It can be exhausting but fun. To finish everything off, a race was held between a pair of the top swimmers from Yankee-188 and those from X–Ray-188.

Our companies gathered on opposite sides of the pool as the relay kicked into gear. Clapping and cheering echoed throughout the pool deck. Honestly, it was never even a contest. Pardon the pun, but Yankee-188 blew the competition out of the water. It was a small victory, but a victory nonetheless.

Our day was rounded out by a leisurely sit down instructional session with Petty Officer Ruff as he went over the proper ways to don our dress uniforms. Attention to detail on something as sacred and significant as these uniforms is of the utmost importance. So, Petty Officer Ruff gave us 30 minutes to put them on properly ourselves.

Naturally we all completely jacked things up. The majority of us don’t even know how to tie a tie, so that brought many recruits to a screeching halt right there. As we lined up on the quarterdeck for inspection, we looked like a rag-tag group of kids who had went on a haphazard shopping spree at the navy surplus store.

Definitely not good to go yet by any stretch of the imagination. It was our first time though. As with anything we will get better with practice. We’ll need to do just that, as week 06 holds no time to take our foot off the gas pedal. It’s full speed ahead for Yankee-188. Hold on.

TUESDAY 29OCT13

The most exciting and eventful day to date for Yankee Company, also happened to be the day we were most nervous since our arrival- the manual of arms test. We had seen it on the schedule for weeks, but always questioned what the test would be like.

Furthermore, we had been preparing for the manual of arms test for weeks; improving slightly every day. None of us expected the feeling of anxiety to run so deeply through our veins. However, this feeling just showed how much we cared about our performance. Before we went out in front of Chief Johnson, we practiced everything we had put so much effort into these past weeks.

Our Company Commanders could see the pangs of anxiety that plagued us as we went through our practice runs. It felt like our test was over within seconds. Before we knew it, Chief Johnson had made his decision. Petty Officer Garver had asked that his company earn a 10 out of 10. A 10 out of 10 would mean perfection, and that was the only acceptable outcome.

What Yankee Company accomplished today was something that has never occurred in the history of recruit training as far as we know. First, Chief Johnson informed us that our performance was one of the top 05 he had ever seen. Of those 05, 04 had been the performances of his own companies. Then, Chief Johnson gave us our score; an 11 out of 10, with the note of having a ‘Badass’ performance.

Never have we made our Company Commanders so proud. Even Petty Officer Ruff told us that although he still thinks we suck, today perhaps we suck a little less. That was the best compliment we could have hoped for from Petty Officer Ruff. Our best day to date did not end there. As we stood in formation in front of the pass and review stand basking in our glory, the feeling of pride radiated all around us.

We stood like silent statues as Petty Officer Garver addressed us. He noted that we have proved that we are now acting as a team. As he spoke, our hearts lifted, because we knew potentially what his words meant for us as a company. We all anticipated what was to come next with internal eagerness but outward stoic expressions. Then came the call, “About face!” The company collectively swung around 180 degrees so we were now facing the parade field. Our gazes locked on to what was standing in front of us. Flapping in the light wind under a warm and blue October sky stood the Guideon mounted with our company colors.

“See something you want?” asked Petty Officer Garver. We answered with a roaring “Yes Petty Officer Garver!” A second of silence ensued, and then Petty Officer Garver gave the command – “Go get it.” Within seconds the Guideon was mobbed by us all, and lifted victoriously into the air so our colors could fly high. We were like a baseball team rushing the field after winning the World Series. Huddled together in one energized mass, we screamed at the tops of our lungs “We are Yankee-188! We are Yankee-188!” It was a feeling of sheer triumph. The celebration was quick. We had to lock back on immediately after our quick bought of excitement.

While it’s true we now have our colors, it is also true that we can lose then in an instant. If we let up one ounce of our military bearing, our colors will be taken and we will all be shamed. We cannot let this happen. Yankee-188 will continue on, pedal to the metal. We are becoming the company that we need to be, and for this brief moment, it feels good.

WEDNESDAY 30OCT13

They say there is never a dull moment in recruit training. However, on rainy days when the sun hides, sometimes our training seems to lose its momentum. The heavy clouds only added to the uneventful day we had as a company.

Yankee split in half shortly after morning chow and marched on. The first half visited the administration building to receive military identification cards. We sat in a waiting area that seemed to be hotter than the quarterdeck during one of our famous remedial sessions. Still, it beat waiting at the Department of Motor Vehicles by a long shot.

Our eyes got heavy and we stood up, rotating between standing up and sitting down. The morning just seemed to drag on as we waited for all our shipmates to be processed. The second half of the company went to career counseling class. There, we viewed the waiting list for all class A-schools. Once again our eyelids drooped and fluttered with the feeling of fatigue. We learned some valuable information, but some of it was also a bit repetitive.

The career counseling classes can be somewhat hard to put into perspective since the wait times for all the most ‘popular’ schools are so long. It feels like getting advice for something that may not even happen for 03 to 04 years for some of us, depending on our desired A-schools.

We have been told though that there is a good deal of hope the grid lock of A-school wait times will ease up in the future. So we may not be doomed to be non-rates forever after all. Only time will tell.

After each half of the company had visited each destination, we regrouped and descended upon the uniform distribution center. All the dress uniform items we had worked so hard to neatly and correctly square away in our racks, had to be packed up into our seabags and hauled off with us. All the uniform discrepancies had to be taken care of today – resizing, more tailoring, replacement items of every kind.

We tried on our dress uniforms and had them looked over by staff members to assure we were up to par. Nothing particularly exciting about the whole ordeal, but in an oddly quiet day of recruit training, it is one of the only events that really stands out. The day was completed with a classic Master Chief Berry workout session, and that was that. Some post-exercise uniform maintenance here, personal hygiene there, and we were done. Goodnight to Wednesday.

THURSDAY 31OCT13

Happy Halloween from Training Center Cape May. Thankfully it’s not as scary here for us as it used to be. More and more we are becoming professional recruits. We capped off our firefighting training today in a blaze of glory. We got to fight a real live…digital fire! But really, it was actually very cool.

We worked in small fire teams to combat a whole shipboard fire scenario. Groups of us responded to the call of “Fire! Fire! Fire!” (sound familiar?) and rushed to properly put on and secure all of our fire gear. Suits, helmets, masks, boots, air tanks, you name it. Fake smoke billowed all around us while lights flashed on and off to distract us.

We then busted into the room where the ‘fire’ was located and took our positions on our respective hoses. Using the methods we learned in previous days of training, we took turns dousing a screen with a simulated fire on it using actual fire hoses. It was like being inside one gigantic video game or movie set. It was an exciting experience, but it also made us appreciate how serious such a situation really is. We have a newfound respect for the hardships a shipboard fire can present.

While practice may be fun, the real thing would of course be entirely different. Hopefully we never have to live out such an event. If we do, at least we have been properly trained. The classes we have taken have advanced immensely since our first week here. Now, we are partaking in practical classes that will help us succeed in real world scenarios.

It is hard to grasp the fact that recruit training has been flying by. Six weeks ago, we were a large group of individuals, confused and scared about the situation we had put ourselves in. Today, Yankee is a team, coming close to becoming a family every day. We have realized what we need to do to ensure the success of the shipmate standing next to us, and the success of the company as a whole. The earning of our colors has seemed to mark a turning point in this company. The realization that we would be the senior company by noon on Friday also gave us some perspective on how we needed to act. Today, Petty Officer Garver sang cadences as he marched us. The cadences lifted our exhausted spirits, and with pride we sang out to let the regiment know Yankee Company is number one.

As the day came to an end, we did something unique to us as of yet. At 2155 we funneled outside into the night and formed up across from the parade field. A quick about face was ordered, and we turned to observe a lone bugle player standing beneath the flagpole silently. Petty Officer Martin of X-Ray explained to us the true meaning and history of Taps. Then, the bugle player began a solemn performance of Taps. Each note held out long and clear in the silent night air. Chills ran through our spines. It was a moving experience, one that touched each and every one of us on an extremely deep level.

FRIDAY 01NOV13

Another Friday at Cape May passes by. Just as the days come and go, so too do the companies that call this regiment home. Today marked the exit of companies Whiskey and Victor. With their departure comes the ushering in of the new senior companies.

Yours truly, Yankee, along with sister company X-Ray, are now the big dogs on the regiment. It seems quite unbelievable that we are now the senior company of Training Center Cape May. It seems like it happened in an instant; none of us could even fathom being the senior company not so long ago, and then all of a sudden the time arrives. Along with being the senior company comes great responsibility. We must hold ourselves to the highest standards of conduct. We now set the example for all the junior companies to follow. It feels good to be where we are.

Marching proudly with our colors, singing cadences, managing to stay locked on and putting in hard work in everything we do. Now of course, I don’t want to get ahead of myself, there is still plenty of time left for one of our legendary Yankee mistakes, but I refuse to believe we should have to come to such pitfalls again. As our shipmates from Victor and Whiskey advance, Yankee and X-Ray gain seniority, and Bravo Company comes to life.

Captain Prestidge once told us that Fridays are the busiest days on the regiment. As one company graduates, another is being picked up by their new Company Commanders and beginning the process of forming. Shipmates from Yankee visited the Bravo squadbay and taught the newborn company how to set up their racks.

Not so long ago we were in the other position. It’s events like this that we looked forward to, before taking over as the senior company. One of the privileges of being the senior company is the on base liberty we have earned. By focusing, working hard, and learning the required knowledge, Yankee gained the privilege of on base liberty.

Six hours of limited freedom are one of the few things, other than graduation, that recruits look forward to in training. This Saturday we will all be tested on whether we can stay locked on while we are away from our Company Commanders. It also tests our ability to continue to be locked on even after spending six hours of stress relief and personal time to ourselves.

Tonight before Taps, we were given our phones to place on outlets out on the quarterdeck. The few moments we held our phones excited us for what was to come in the morning; it lifted our spirits knowing we were just hours away from hearing the voices of our loved ones.

SATURDAY 02NOV13

On base liberty provides recruits with the opportunity to relieve stress that has been building up for a month and a half. The few hours of freedom felt like a reward passed down from heaven. Today, Yankee and X-Ray experienced liberty for the first time. Half of the companies spent the day in Arlington, VA, and the other half followed the recruit schedule. For the half that stayed on the regiment, Master Chief Berry prepared challenging workout – pull-ups, biking, pull-ups, biking, sit ups, biking. The two-hour calorie killer was designed to specifically reduce some guilt that would set in while eating pounds of junk food during liberty.

Eventually, 1500 came about; the company had already made it to the exchange and began purchasing necessary (and unnecessary junk food) items. We all rushed our shopping at the exchange because we knew what would come after that. As soon as we stepped over the deck plate of the Harborview Club, our neglected cell phones were released from captivity. For hours on end, shipmates laughed, relaxed, smiled and most importantly spoke to their loved ones. Although on base liberty seemed to fly by, it was necessary for our sanity going into the last 02 weeks of training.

For a contingency of 20 of us, on base liberty entailed something a little different. You have probably already found out from the streams of calls and texts you received from us prior to the publishing of this blog. If not, I’ll enlighten you. After conducting random picks a few days prior, a group of 20 recruits was chosen to “give up” their on base liberty in exchange for the honor of attending an event at Arlington National Cemetery.

The event was called “Flags Across America.” We would be entrusted with the duty of setting flags in front of the gravestones of fallen and deceased Coast Guardsmen. We left a little before 0400 on a large bus. We arrived at Arlington National Cemetery just as the sun began to creep up over the rolling hills, evaporating the morning dew into steam. Once off the bus and formed out in the parking lot, we were given a number of breathtaking honors.

To begin, Master Chief Leavitt, the Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard and the highest enlisted member of the service, came over and cheerfully spoke to us. He asked us about our training, our duty stations, fielded our questions and gave us advice. He told us that in order to be successful in the Coast Guard, we must “work hard, choose a job we love and have fun.” He was a very uplifting and supportive person. Then, the Commandant of the Coast Guard, Admiral Papp, arrived.

He also welcomed us warmly, shaking our hands and talking with us about our future careers as Coast Guardsmen. Meeting these individuals was akin to meeting a famous movie star or a sports hero. To us recruits, they are larger than life figures. Many Coast Guardsman may go their entire careers without meeting one of them, let alone both. We were lucky enough to accomplish this feat in a span of minutes. After these exhilarating encounters, it was time for the ceremony to begin.

Speeches were given and respects were paid. We then set out individually to each find a grave of a Coast Guardsman to adorn with flags. When we found one and placed our flags in the ground, we rendered a salute. The entire experience was truly humbling. The honor we felt carrying out this duty was immense.

To be in Arlington National Cemetery, among our superiors and among the resting places of America’s finest and bravest was awe-inspiring. Standing amidst the countless rows of headstones was a truly humbling experience. To be able to perform such an act, as we did today, before we have even left recruit training is amazing. I don’t know how we came to be so lucky.

We all feel such gratitude for being able to take part in this experience. Upon its conclusion, we were able to observe the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The accuracy, precision and snap of the guards was a spectacle to behold. Then, we descended upon the mall area of Washington, DC. We were given around 03 unsupervised hours to explore the area ourselves. The Capitol, Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial and the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, were all popular destinations.

We walked about with pride, adorning our bravo jackets (dress uniform) for the first time in public. The looks we were given, the questions we were asked and the thanks we received were all new and overwhelming to us. The entire day was just a once in a lifetime experience. We will all carry this special memory with us forever.

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: