Recruit Journal Foxtrot 189 Week: 02

Recruit Journal Foxtrot 189 Week: 02

Formed: December 3, 2013

Graduates: January 24, 2013


International Maritime Signal Flag Foxtrot

International Maritime Signal Flag Foxtrot


Monday 09DEC13

Weary eyes filled the barracks. Sluggish from the night before, but still a piercing look of determination gathered in every recruit’s eyes with the heart to take on any challenge the day would bring. The USCG is one of the most selective services.  Just try to imagine the standards the Coast Guard holds! It puts pride in your chest that burns like a forest fire. Not just pride in your own self, but a pride in your shipmates next to you. 

Foxtrot-189 may not be the toughest bunch or the most efficient squad or even the brightest bulb, but one thing we do have is heart… heart to endure. We are just beginning our week 02 and already leaders have stepped up. Even in the face of fear and adversity, Foxtrot-189 pushes on! Today was a challenging day. Now when I say challenging you may think, “Oh, they had a couple of difficult events.”  But I guarantee you military challenges and civilian challenges are on two different sides of the spectrum. I’m not going to get into too much detail, just know your kids are in the best hands in the world. Each day those childish ways we brought into the USCG, are gradually being transformed into contributing military members. Stayed tuned for Foxtrot’s growth.

 Tuesday 10DEC13 

“FIRE, FIRE, FIRE” is usually how our days start here at Cape May. Not an actual fire but code for ‘get a fire under your ass and move like a blue blur.’ After only two weeks our brains are wired to get up and get the hell out when we here those words, unfortunately, Foxtrot-189 hasn’t quite got it yet and we often miss our time objectives. Oh, what price we pay when that happens. This just means we are going to be doing a variety of workouts, which include pushup, crunches, squats, and flutter kicks, all the while trying to sound off at the top of our lungs.

 So maybe the agony will stop for just a few brief seconds. Only in our dreams. Most people see breakfast as a time to relax. That’s the absolute opposite for us. Chow time is one of the most stressful times of the day.  There is absolutely no talking unless you’re gluten for pain or, how our CC’s puts it, “Get your face eaten”. We learned to eat fast and keep our eyes on our plates, making sure they don’t catch our eyes wondering. After chow we march to our next class or wherever we are scheduled to be. 

 In some weird way, a lot of the recruits look forward to marching. It’s our chance to look and sound like an actual unit.  It makes us feel like we are truly a part of the Coast Guard.  Too bad we make so many mistakes.  About three hours before lights out we have some remedial training. The funny thing is, the name remedial training does not do it justice. It is border line insane training. From placing ink sticks on the deck, bending over and picking it up hundreds of times, to holding our canteen parallel to the deck while reading in unison over and over and over.  By the time we finish, our arms feel like they’re about to fall off.

 On the plus side, the days seem to fly by and we become stronger as each day passes.  You have to be slightly crazy to put yourself in this environment. You think I’m exaggerating? I say, come and see for yourself. 

Wednesday 11DEC13

 Big steps were taken today. Foxtrot lost a recruit, and gained a new one. In what started as a “Just another day” feeling in the morning with a fire drill, quickly turned into the best day of recruit training so far.  We were given time objective after time objective, each one seemingly more impossible to accomplish.  So far we have been failing those objectives, and paying for it.

 Today is not that day.  After lunch we were given a 05 minute head and water break. We decided to take that time to make our racks (beds) inspection ready.  Everyone was helping each other, and with week 02 halfway done, I’d say we were ahead of the curve. Our Lead Company Commander, Petty Officer Garver, walked in our squad bay, assuming all we did was take a drink and use the head, and then said “ You got 05 minutes, to make your racks inspection ready, be online with a Mission Complete at minute 55”.  We all looked at each other and smiled. Almost just as fast as he walked in we yelled “Mission complete Petty Officer Garver!” The first thing we heard, and mind you, he’s in a complete different room, was “ No freaking way, are you serious?”

 Foxtrot-189 is serious. Today was a turning point. Today we truly began to become members of the most selective service. Our chain of command must agree, today we were issued our de-militarized pieces, weapons for training. They’re a lot heavier than I expected. A little “I.T.”, incentive training, will change that.  We aren’t worried. The highlight of the day for us however had to be when Father Fronk spoke to us. He’s a sight for sore eyes, a break from the training. We got updated on current events, sports, music, movies, just about everything.  What a great way to end the day. As we scarf down our 02 chewy bars, and get our much-needed sleep, Foxtrot-189 has only 01 question, “What’s next?”

 Thursday 12DEC13

 Waking up to “FIRE, FIRE, FIRE” and running outside at 0530 is not exactly pleasant. When the wind chill hits your face, you feel it.  It definitely wakes you up though.  Throughout the day, Foxtrot-189 is turns into a team.  You can see it by watching others tell their shipmates to tuck their drawstrings or shoelaces in. We are slowly but surely getting the idea that in order to succeed we must first act like a team and remain positive. 

 Tonight, at evening chow, one of the Golf recruits had to stand up and say, “ HAHAHA HEHEHE HOHOHO” for a solid 05 minutes. All of Foxtrot Company was trying not to laugh.  Some were acting like they were coughing and others had napkins over their faces. It’s always great seeing recruits smile, especially when we are out of our element. We are here for a reason. We are all here to be Coast Guardsmen and women. Tonight, before we hit the rack, Petty Officer Garver taught us things we need to know. He is a great teacher, myself and other recruits look up to him. I have to say, it is hard to see him disappointed. We will get better; we are getting stronger and becoming a team.  Tonight I got to lead prayer with a few other recruits. Standing in a circle praying together is the best thing to end the night with. God gives us the strength to go beyond what we thought was impossible.

 Friday 13DEC13

 “The grass is always greener.” That could be the motto for today. It started off typical then took a drastic turn. We should have expected that, given today is Friday the Thirteenth. After another tasty lunch (the food here is actually very good) we had a class on how to stand watch. We learned proper response techniques, how to handle certain situations and many other valuable things. That’s when things started going downhill.

 We missed a time objective, had to pack up everything we owned, which made some of us late to formation, including myself.  The tardy people had to march together to chow, without our Company Commander.  Any time you see recruits walking around base without their Company Commanders, it’s a feeding frenzy for all the other Company Commanders. Oh did they feast! Leaving nothing but performance trackers in their wake. When we got back to our squad bay, we made our way over to what would be our new home for a few days, Munro Hall. The highlight of this day would have to be when Chief Duncan asked my shipmates and I, and our sister company, Golf-189 (who we do almost everything with), if 02 volunteers would raise their hand. Keep in mind he asked us this literally right after we finished an extremely intense training session. Right after he asked, no scratch that, immediately after he asked, nearly every single person raised his or her hand.  We’re talking 50 plus people. We’re taking another step towards working as a complete team, another step towards putting the other person first. One step closer to week 03. One step closer to graduation. One step closer to being Coast Guardsmen!

 Saturday 14DEC13

 Just when you think things can’t get any worse, they do. Today was so bad, one recruit walked out in the middle of an I.T. session, another recruit is seriously contemplating quitting, and 02 more broke down crying in front of everyone.  We just couldn’t get anything right today.  From the early morning watches to the afternoon sound offs, to late night I.T., we weren’t doing what we needed to do. 

 Marching to morning chow was embarrassing.  We looked like a bunch of chickens with their heads cut off. After that debacle, we met for the first time with our company mentors.  It’s always refreshing being able to talk to someone who isn’t screaming in your face all the time. They gave us some insight on what work life is like post graduation and that was really helpful.  Then we marched like a bunch of drunken hooligans to afternoon chow. That was the last good thing that happened today.

 When our bellies were full, we marched back to Munro Hall, and so began the slow journey to hell. We started with the “Ink stick workout”. It’s a lot harder than it sounds. You must stand at the position of attention, hold your ink stick out in front of you, and then put it down. Then pick it up and extend your arm, then put it down. So on and so forth.  Rumor is SEAL TEAM SIX does it for training 45 minutes a night. We did it for an hour. After a short head and water break, we did left faces for half an hour, then right faces for half an hour, all while reciting the Coast Guard core values “HONOR, RESPECT, DEVOTION TO DUTY”, then hour for evening chow. Just like that it was right back to lovely incentive training.

 We took our de-militarized pieces and assumed the sniper position. We were statues. Every time someone moved the timer restarted and you could hear a loud sigh let out across the squad bay.  We were in full operational dress uniforms and drenched in sweat. It looked like we had been outside for hours on end in the pouring, practically snowing Cape May environment. It’s supposed to get better, that’s what everyone keeps telling us.  You know what they say, “When you’re at the bottom, the only place to go is up.”


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.