Recruit Journal Yankee 188 Week: 07

Recruit Journal Yankee 188 Week: 07
Formed: September 24, 2013
Graduates: November 15, 2013

Yankee1-300x231[2]

SUNDAY 03NOV13

Sundays always bring a small break from training with divine hours. During our time to unwind from training we have the opportunity to study, square away our racks, shine our boondockers, and attend services. All, no matter the week of training, appreciates divine hours. Today’s divine hours gave the company time to catch up on anything necessary, before our hectic week 07 begins. Although we are all living one chow to the next, it is difficult not to look ahead on the weeks remaining. Week 07 brings the Munro Mile, another chance at the confidence course, final exams, and endless workouts in preparation for the Battalion Commander’s Pennant.
For the Battalion Commander’s Pennant, Master Chief Berry will put our physical fitness abilities through his test. An impressive company average on all components that make up the challenge will earn us another Pennant for our Guidon. Furthermore, Master Chief Berry will test our ability to work as a team with a seabag drill. During this evolution, all of our belongings will be placed into our seabags and our squad bays will become the aftermath of a category 04 hurricane.
All weekend, our Company Commanders have been preparing us for the challenges Master Chief Berry will bring. Today we were tested with running 12 laps around the track and completing 01-minute sessions of various types of incentive training exercises in between laps. The running seemed to get harder with every lap, as the chilling winds fought against us. The sun was shinning, but no one was feeling warmth in the air. The only warmth came from sweat and exhaustion as we finished our laps one by one.
In the evening, we turned away from physical fitness training in order to practice our seabag drill. In less than 10 minutes, we packed the belongings in our racks and compressed onto the quarterdeck. Petty Officer Ruff gave us the time objective of 49 minutes to make our racks and squad bays inspection ready. During this mock exercise, we discovered our strengths and weaknesses working under stress together. This practice drill gave us the opportunity to strategize for the day the real test comes. With all this preparation we hope to be ready for the real thing.

MONDAY 04NOV13

The dawn of week 07 begins. A fresh week starts, and we are all anticipating what it has in store for us. A glance at the schedule shows that we are going to be extremely busy and on the move all the way up until the weekend. Today proved to be no exception. Within the first few minutes of being torn out of sleep, we found ourselves double-timing it in the icy cold pre-dawn morning over to the gymnasium. We crowded onto the basketball court, assumed the position of attention, and then started our stretching. For this whole week our morning chow has been pushed back to 0715, leaving with a large window of time before chow. This morning it was all about push-ups, sit-ups and weightlifting in the Cybex gym. It feels good to fit in a morning workout before chow; it definitely helps kick start your day. It seems the focus of a lot of this week is going to be preparing physically for the Master Chief Berry Challenge that goes down next week. We must all push ourselves, and train hard all week long so we’ll be squared away for it.
After exercises and chow, the bulk of our day was dedicated to a CPR and first aid class and practical application session. We covered broken bones, burns, bleeding, hypothermia; you name it. We are all now a jack-of-all-trades in the world of first aid. It was all very beneficial training since we are dedicated to saving lives.
The entire class session was extremely long, spanning a good couple of hours before and after noon chow. It was a lot of information thrown at us quickly, but I think the majority of us are now much more confident in our abilities to help others.
On a more somber note, we saw one of our shipmates fall prey to reversion this evening. The details behind why and how it occurred is something we will keep to ourselves as a company. I only bring it up to show that week 07 holds no safety from the powers that be if you are not squared away. While it may be close to the end, we are not at the gate yet, both metaphorically and literally. Anything can happen, regardless of what week it is. We must all stay locked on and keep our eyes on the prize. For now we wish you goodnight, see you tomorrow bright and early.

TUESDAY 05NOV13

In the ‘recruit underground,’ you hear about everything from reversions, to upcoming inspections, to myths. One of the first things we were told was that the days would seem long, and the weeks short. Although this was true during our first few weeks in training, like us, that has changed. Today seemed to go by quicker than most days in training. Our days have been moving faster due to all the classes we have packed into our schedule.
We started the day at seamanship. Just 02 weeks ago, we took our midterms at seamanship, and today the final. The final tested our ability to retain the vast amount of information that has been thrown at us. The final did not signify the end of our time at seamanship, as directly after the test Petty Officer Thompson taught us and our sister company about line handling.
The class on line handling was unlike any other, as it caused over half of the company to rise and fight the feeling of fatigue. However, the second part of the class woke us up as fast as a good “Fire! Fire! Fire!” During this portion of line handling, each recruit was given the chance to heave lines. It was during this part of the class that Petty Officer Thompson explained the need to be quick and efficient when heaving lines. Just one poor throw could be minutes of someone’s life lost.
Furthermore, while Yankee and Xray practiced heaving lines, an Army helicopter flew around our general area. This made us realize why we sound off from reveille to taps. In the fleet, there are hundreds of situations where background noise may take over an area. The helicopter unintentionally became the most important example and the best time to practice in regards to sounding off. The latter half of the day was punctuated by two crucial events – our personnel inspection conducted by Lieutenant Stiefel, and our close order drill (marching) test presided over by Chief Hollenbeck.
Our personnel inspection required us to adorn our service dress blue uniforms so the Battalion Officer, Lieutenant Stiefel, could look us over and point out any discrepancies. We ironed, clipped, wiped and polished our way into what we hoped to be perfection. Having squared away uniforms is important both to us, and our Company Commanders.
Overall, Lieutenant Stiefel had few, if any, negative comments about our uniforms. Everything seemed to be in order. As the inspection ended, the close order drill test began. Initially, this threw us for a loop. Still in our nice dress uniforms, we would be required to perform for Chief Hollenbeck. We had never practiced marching or conducting movements in these uniforms or shoes. All we had ever known was operational dress uniform and boondockers. Here we were, in a uniform akin to a formal suit with combination covers on our heads and dress shoes on our feet.
Most of us had only worn these items once. It’s like preparing for the Superbowl all season long, then being told you’re going to be wearing hockey equipment the second you storm the field. For some companies, this may have presented a problem, but we are Yankee-188. We went out and killed it. After all was said and done, a perfect score of 10 was handed down from the pass and review stand.
We owe a debt of gratitude to Chief Arseneaux for working with us and setting us up for success on the test. Chief Arseneaux put in time, working with us on multiple occasions beforehand, and was ultimately the one to march us during the test. He shares in our victory today. In all, it was a successful day for Yankee-188. A lot was accomplished and we still have much more to gain. We look forward to taking on the week ahead.

WEDNESDAY 06NOV13

All good things must come to an end. Seamanship class is no exception. It was with bittersweet feelings we had our final seamanship class today. We all readily enjoy seamanship class and will miss not having it with Petty Officer Thompson anymore. However, the end of seamanship means we are one step closer to the end of recruit training. Clearly we are not there yet, but it is definitely a step in the right direction. Our final class entailed a line handling practical on board a mock Coast Guard vessel.
We heaved, we pulled, and we moored. Line handling is more complicated than it may sound. When you’re going to be dealing with tying up a multi-million dollar vessel, you have to know what you are doing. There is skill and practice that goes into the art of line handling.
It looks like our next practice though, will come once we’re out in the fleet. In the end, seamanship concluded on a high note. We learned our company accumulated a 92.3% average on the final, thus earning us the seamanship pennant for our colors and Guidon. Afterwards, the majority of the day was taken up by administrative time. We are all deep in the process of contacting our units and sponsors. We have been swarming the resource learning center to shoot off emails and phone calls to our sponsors as they help us prepare to transition to our new units.

The big event of today, at least for the males, had to be our visit to the barbershop. This one visit would prove to be different than all the others. With our seniority and good performances, came the award of being able to receive the ‘high and tight’ haircut. This makes us stand out from all the other recruits on the regiment. It is like a badge of honor atop our heads. It marks another stepping stone on our path to graduation. Our evening was rounded out by further physical preparation for the Master Chief Berry Test. It is creeping up on us and will be here in no time. But for now, just getting through tomorrow is all that matters. We are taking it one day at a time.

THURSDAY 07NOV13

The goals that Yankee Company and its Company Commanders have set in place for the group have been challenging, but not unattainable. After over-exceeding on both the manual of arms and close order drill test, the company is now turning heads in our direction as we march instead of away from us. Just two weeks ago we were stumbling over ourselves in a makeshift formation, with our seabags, rucksacks and pieces. Just two weeks ago we were in the worst dive ever witnessed by a Company Commander. And just two weeks ago we were struggling as a company to become one.
In week 05, when Yankee Company would march, no one would look in our direction. Not even a forming recruit who has yet to experience the pain of the ‘eyes in the boat’ remedial. Now, as we march with pride in our step, eyes gravitate in our direction. Our loud cadences let others know Yankee Company is near. That the senior company has arrived.
Today was an important day for Yankee and sister company Xray. Today was the day we signed our orders. These official documents held our fate for the next few years of our lives; and finally signing our orders sealed that reality. After a quick class on signing our orders, Yankee Company was placed under the control of Senior Chief Ashley.
We have all witnessed the moments where Section Commanders have reverted shipmates on the spot. Therefore, we were apprehensive about spending the evening with one of them. Although we had been forewarned that Senior Chief Ashley’s presence was solely for our benefit, we were uncertain about what the end result would be. Upon returning from class, we packed our seabags, and once again compressed onto the quarterdeck.
Senior Chief Ashley and Chief Arseneaux tore through the squad bays, leaving no trace of the once-clean areas. Racks were compressed, toilet paper scattered and soap residue covered the sinks. In 48 minutes we were challenged with having inspection ready racks and squad bays. In that time, we worked together to find the ‘booby traps’ Senior Chief Ashley had warned us about.
This mock seabag drill gave us the opportunity to find our strengths and weaknesses, working together in a limited amount of time while under stress. Every seabag drill has given us a better idea of what to expect and has gotten us closer to being prepared for Master Chief Berry. Tonight, we quickly came to appreciate all the practice we have been given to get ready for the obstacles in week 08.
A successful night with Senior Chief Ashley is what Yankee Company needed to gain momentum going into week 08. The positive feedback from Chief Arseneaux and Senior Chief Ashley gave us confidence for the road ahead.

FRIDAY 08NOV13

Friday, the end of the workweek for most, yet just like any other day in recruit training. Still, as the major portion of this week ends, the feelings we are experiencing must be noted. First and foremost, there is a definite sense of confidence exuding from each and every one of us. It gets more noticeable by the day. The fear and anxiety that plagued us all is coming to an end.
Everything we have been taught is now clicking, and we run as well-oiled machines, both as a company and individually. Are mistakes still made? Yes. But they are fewer and farther between for all of us. Today just felt like the culmination of our training is beginning to set it. While our hearts are set on graduation, our minds are still locked on to recruit mode. This was proven this morning, as we sat down and were administered our final exam. In all honesty, it felt weird that it was already our time to take it. Not to be cliché, but it seems like just yesterday we were prepping for the midterm. Things are happening so fast now. Of course, there is no time to slow down during recruit training, so it makes sense.
In regards to the final, I can’t say for sure but I am fairly confident our company average was over 90%. There were no major hang-ups and everyone can now safely say the final is checked off the list: another major stepping-stone on the road to graduation. With this accomplishment, we were extremely fortunate of being bestowed with the honor of cleaning Sexton Hall. Now, as recruits we have a love/hate relationship with Sexton Hall.
Our past two visits (arrival and the week 05 Armageddon day) have been punctuated by terror and pain. So it may not be our favorite spot I suppose. Still, it was interesting cleaning out the squad bays we originally stayed in all those weeks ago in September. Many of us caught ourselves having flashbacks as we made the sheets to our original racks and cleaned the sinks of our first heads. We have come so far since those first few nights in September. Being in Sexton Hall helped us realize that.
Today we lost out on the chance to try out the confidence course a second time, but gained the opportunity to raise our flag for the regiment to see. “Just like everything you have earned in this company, you are going to work for this…Push up position take!” These words that had been absent lately from our Company Commanders vocabulary, suddenly reappeared. At a moments notice, both Yankee and Xray were on the rigid cement deck, conjuring vivid flashbacks of week 02.
We stood still as we waited for the command we have heard hundreds of times before. “Push ups begin!” As we pushed the deck away from us, our flag slowly rose. This was another significant prize we looked forward to earning. As senior company, hoisting our colors for all to see was what Petty Officer Garver called “the nail in the coffin.” Our Company Commanders watched over us as we sounded off to raise our flag. This session of incentive training was unique due to the fact that there was something to achieve right in front of us.
While we pushed, squatted, kicked and yelled, the dry air crept into our lungs, turning our throats raw. Although it took a significant amount of time and effort to achieve our Company Commanders approval, in the end our flag was hoisted and now hangs proudly for all to see.

SATURDAY 09NOV13

This is our last Saturday in Cape May (knock on wood, fingers crossed, etc.). If all goes accordingly, we will see our loved ones in less than 01 week. This is the first of our ‘last’ days that won’t overlap with next week. Without getting ahead of ourselves, I will admit it feels good. The majority of you probably all know that thanks to the calls and texts sent out today during our off base liberty. Yes, today we experienced the coveted off base liberty. This is what we had been looking forward to since the first few minutes of stepping off the bus on day 01. We put off-base liberty on a pedestal starting on that very day. We envied each preceding company as they prepared for this week 07 ritual. And now, it was our time.
We suited up in our service dress blues, marched out of the gate, and felt the sweet release of freedom. By the curb, stood a long line of cabs ready to whisk us away. Next stop, Atlantic City! No. That’s not true. For the majority of us recruits, the destination was the equally beautiful and exciting town of Rio Grande. A quick cab ride found us surrounded by all the chain restaurants and stores we have come to know and love.
Being thrown into the civilian world right out of recruit training can cause sensory overload. Today was a test to see how we would deal with that, a real world practical on the art of locking on and off. Being able to control that switch when necessary is a very real and important ability. Still, to say we looked awkward out there is an understatement.
Various gangs of recruits marching in step here, unknowingly squaring a corner there. All these actions and motions we learned on the regiment followed us out of the gate. It felt genuinely uncomfortable not marching in columns. What has become second nature to us was fighting to take over. Our shipmates quickly descended upon the local establishments.
Coffee was guzzled, candy devoured, movies seen and even motel rooms rented for all day snooze sessions. Even though we enjoyed all these privileges, the whole experience was more stressful than we had imagined. Our minds are all so focused on finishing the last week that we did not exactly relax and decompress as much as we thought we would. We all just don’t want to make a mistake, and we realized quickly the amount of scrutiny we were under while out in public. All eyes were on us, even those of our Company Commanders, who many of us ran into while out in the civilian world today.
As I said, off base liberty is a test. It is amazing and it is a privilege, but it is still a test. It seems weird to say, but in all honesty many of us felt good about returning to the regiment. It felt safe. This is what we know and it is still our world for another 01 week. We want to take these final days by the horns and finish strong and proud. Now there is nothing to interrupt our focus between our time on the regiment and graduation. We are now in the bottom of the 9th inning and headed for home. Keep rooting for us.

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: