Golf 189 Recruit Journal: Week 04

Golf 189 Recruit Journal: Week 04

Formed: Dec. 2, 2013

Graduates: Jan. 24, 2013

International Maritime Signal Flag Golf

International Maritime Signal Flag Golf


This drizzly Monday morning was filled with our usual startling wake up and beautiful breakfasts.  We had a full plate of training time today, the majority of which was spent at the firing range from 0730 to 1630. 

Our class time at the range was highly informative from laser guided target shooting, full safety and standard Coast Guard issue firearms, learning how to disassemble and reassemble a Sig Sauer P229DAK, as well as piece nomenclature.  We REALLY learned a ton of useful and exciting information from our wonderful instructors and thoroughly enjoyed our time.

 After our full day of range/firearm class time we hustled to dinner and woofed down our meals in time to make it to our formal Coast Guard pictures.  It was a really interesting experience taking our formal photos in a dress uniform we still have 04 weeks to earn. 

 Though we’ve all broken out with boot camp zits and show sincere signs of exhaustion and aging, when we put on the top pieces to our hopeful one day uniforms we all felt and looked so happy.  Our struggles, Recruit Attitude Motivation Program (RAMP) nightmares (sometimes realities), and pains here will hopefully lead us to our fully earned real dress uniform.

 Our excitement from our formal pictures soon faded when we arrived “home” to our squad bays.  Instead of the usual dismay and anguish we feel when we see our rooms trashed, this time there was a festive cheer.  G-189’s female squad bay had a Christmas tree made out of ironing boards, Go-Faster “tree” decorations, and a “star” ornament made out of a hair brush and glowing pen light.  Our matresses in each male and female squad bay had been intricately arranged to look like fireplaces with “stockings” from some of our dirty laundry socks.  “Merry Christmas!” and, “Happy Holidays!” signs were written in soap and marker on our windowsills, mirrors, and bulletin boards.  A coating of snow like sink powder completed the finishing touch to our festive homes.  It was the first time for all of us that we didn’t mind the destruction and lengthy clean up, but instead wished we could leave our CC makeshift decorations…and snag a keepsake photo or two! 

Sadly we were ordered to take down our “holiday cheer”, but as we did we ever so quietly hummed, “You’re a mean one Mr. Grinch…”, and, “Oh, Christmas Tree”.  Our CC “Santas” did us proud!  Now, we just can’t wait to see what they’ll do for New Years! HO-HUM!!!!


            The wintery winds of Cape May arrived just in time for Christmas Eve!  Today began like many others, but as we donned our winter gear and Gortex jackets many of us didn’t exactly know how to feel this Tuesday.  We officially hit the 04 week mark and we’re mentally preparing for our final qualifying Physical Fitness (PF) test, yet as we moved about our morning routine in our hearts and certainly the air we knew today was Christmas Eve and wondered if our CCs did too.

            We continued to hustle about in the morning and afternoon with a class lead by our Lead Company Commander, Chief Griffin, on Commitment and then another class on Cyber Awareness and our USCG e-mails.  Lunch came and went, and shortly thereafter we changed into physical fitness gear and sweats to complete our week 04 PT test.  Thankfully, many of us pushed past our nerves and exhaustion to successfully pass our PT (Physical Training) tests, but a few missed the required time or number/count and will spend the duration of training going to Physical Fitness Enhancement (PFE) classes Monday-Friday at 0530 (0430 wakeup call) until they pass.

            By the time we finished our PT tests it was close to 1600 and we were all ready for chow, but our Christmas Eve hopes for minimal IT time were dismissed by our CCs and we spent time holding our pieces in sniper to long range stance, and then cleaning a new arrangement our CC “Santa” inspired decorations in our squad bays.

            When dinner chow finally arrived we were truly elated and honored the festively-adorned galley staff prepared us another wonderful meal and allowed us for a moment or two to truly feel the Christmas spirit.  After show we weren’t exactly sure if we would endure anymore physical duress for the day, but F-189’s assistant CC, Petty Officer La France, surprised us with a unique team building exercise.  With F-189 and G-189 companies combined, the 40+ of us were tasked with unlocking a large green seabag locked with one of our shipmate’s locks that contained all of our spare locks. 

            PO La France gave us the goal of unlocking the bag and finding our specific lock in less than 05 minutes that she had apparently witnessed a company of over 100 execute.  Our first round proved to be a bit chaotic, but we successfully completed the task in about 09 minutes.  Our second try did not go so well and we finished past the 10 minute mark, but we learned the real meaning of teamwork and followership, and hope to try this exercise again!

            Thankfully, we were provided the opportunity to attend Christmas Eve mass this night and the majority of G-189 did.  Those who attended did for many reasons, but during the mass we all had a chance to feel the holiday presence around us.  Some of us learned during this time that we would be going to the base auditorium for a special event.

            When we formed back into company and began marching to the auditorium, we heard the words, “Hot Cocoa”, come out of PO Russo’s mouth and secretly smiled jumping up and down on the inside with glee.

            To our immense and humblest of delights we were indeed greeted with hot cocoa by Captain Prestige’s wife, Commander Gibbons’ wife, Master Chief Berry’s wife, and a few other CCs’ wives.  The kind and wonderfully generous wives had been our secret Santa’s and arranged a true Christmas Eve celebration!  Our CCs were shooed away and in addition to our hot cocoas, delicious cookies and care packaged stockings were gifted to us from our families and loved ones.  We were allowed to smile and talk amongst one another wishing, “Merry Christmas”.  This event was by far THE greatest unexpected gift us weary and homesick Coasties could ever ask for. The wives thanked us in return for our efforts and future service with additional hugs and smiles as we tried to thank them in return with ours. 

            When it was finally time to leave we exited trying to keep our smiles and tears of joy checked at the door to regain our military bearing, but for many of us it was still hard to contain it was we marched back in the cold.

            As we fall asleep tonight it does indeed feel like Christmas, and just like we were when we were kids, we cannot wait to wake up and see Santa…as long as he’s not our CCs!

            Merry Christmas Eve!!!


            Christmas day was indeed a magically wondrous experience for everyone in G-189!  Although, our day began with “FIRE, FIRE, FIRE!!!” and we endured IT sessions, our day was filled with several blessings.

            After our hearty breakfasts, we went back to our squad bays and finally had time to properly and fully clean and organize our squad bays, catch up on our required knowledge, and press our uniforms to perfection.

            At 1130 we were whisked away to the base chapel where we were placed with families who opened their hearts and homes to us for Christmas day.  Some shipmates went in pairs and others went in larger groups, but everyone went to a passionately kind and caring local family who routinely/annually (some for 15+ years) volunteered in the 2013 summer months to host Coastie recruits on Christmas day. 

            Many of us had been looking forward to this day since we arrived because unlike some of the other U.S. military basic training programs we knew we would have this day off.  For some of us though today was an immensely difficult day being away from our families and loved ones.

            Thankfully, one of the MOST amazing Christmas gifts today besides going off base to a complete stress free home/environment was being able to call our loved ones.  Our Christmas day Operation Fireside families allowed all of us to spend as much time as we needed catching up with our families and friends, and the best emotional support we needed afterwards to regain strength and purpose after breaking down feeling the true weight of being separated from our families these past 04 weeks and important holiday.

            There are no just words to adequately describe the immense love and generosity our host families bestowed upon us today, but they spoiled us rotten!  Aside from our greatest phone call home gift, our bellies were filled with mouth watering meals (several of us enjoyed steak for dinner!), delectable desserts, our favorite beverages (soda and coffee) we’ve been deprived of while in training, movie and TV times, maps, and endless love, support, and kindness.

            It was genuinely hard for us to break down our military bearings and not refer to our hosts as “Sir” or “Ma’am”, but by the end of our night, our host families became…well our families.  With the utmost confidence they assured us we would succeed in basic training and they would loudly cheery for us at our 24JAN14 graduation.

            Regretfully, by 1900 we began departing from our host families and our first non-stress “regular breathing” day had ended.  When we arrived back at the USCG TRACEN Cape May gates our host families hugged us tightly and said, “You CAN do this!”  Now go kick some butt!” and we marched proudly yet sadly back to James Hall in the cold night air.

            We were greeted by F-189’s Lead Company Commander, Petty Officer Garver, at 2000 with “FIRE, FIRE, FIRE!!!” and an IT session, followed by a full 3rd floor over hall cleaning, and one more “FIRE, FIRE, FIRE!!!” drill.

            Petty Officer Garver stressed to us though we had enjoyed this day off, we needed to regain our military bearing quickly because we also had lost a day and would be immediately required to begin planning our USCG career futures tomorrow when we submitted our “dream sheets”.  We stayed up an extra 20 minutes with him asking questions for guidance, and received point blank sage advice.

            Tomorrow will indeed be another busy and highly important day with our first Seamanship midterm and assignment entry.  As always, we will give our all and take all our blessings today with us to strive beyond what we could muster alone.  We love you all and our new family members more than words can say!


            A dose of hard boot camp reality hit us this day as we were pushed back into the intense pace and operations of our “general” routine.  Another “FIRE, FIRE, FIRE!!!” wake up call, mini-relief and panic during morning show, and then quick march over to one of our favorite classes and instructors, Seamanship with Petty Officer Thomas.  Though we were thankful for not too much physical torment being on our plates today and we instead had lengthy yet exciting class time, the transition from our amazing holiday experiences yesterday to…well, USCG boot camp was sobering and sad.  In some regards, our mini-holiday back fired and made us feel an extra pinch of depression, but there was (and still is) no time to lament or dwell on our feelings.  Instead today we pushed ourselves harder to focus and get ourselves through the day.

            Seamanship was a warm welcome back to training, although we had a Helmsman and knot tying exam that some of us were nervous about.  Petty Officer Thompson made class and surprisingly even our exams a stress free and practical skills gaining time.  There are no just words to describe how much we enjoy and are truly honored to have him as an instructor.  Simply put, he’s amazing and so is every class.  Through his instruction we ALL successfully aced our exams and gained a needed list in our day. 

            Before stepping off to lunch we went back to our squad bays and were quizzed required knowledge (our 11 general orders, phonetic alphabet, chain of command, and rates and ranks) by Chief Griffin while polishing our boondockers.  We’ve learned in this week that although we may have less physically intense days, we definitely have a growing amount of verbatim knowledge to somehow cram into our minds in less than a day.  So many of us are struggling to memorize all of the detailed knowledge requirements, and we indeed feel like walking/marching target reversions at times.  Thankfully, for those of us who were quizzed by Chief Griffin we passed and were taken off of academic probation.

            Lunch was a very welcome time for us, and soon thereafter we finally had the class where we submitted our assignment dream sheets.  Petty Officer Larson was our instructor and mentored us on how to fill out and submit out assignment sheets.  We were informed directly in the beginning of class all of the males would be going on cutters, because of the great need to fill 125+ empty cutter billets. For us females desiring to go afloat there were only four open cutter billets spread between districts 13, 01, 05, and 07.  By the end we laid our hopes and USCG dreams out on our assignment papers and sent out a double prayer for luck getting an assignment close to our “dream sheet” and making it through boot camp.

            To help clear our minds G-189’s Chief Duncan and F-189’s Lead Company Commander, Petty Officer Garver, took both companies for a 02-03 mile run around base.  When we returned from this fresh air venture we showered and changed for chow thanking our galley staff again for another delicious meal. 

            Our evening ended with piece nomenclature and handling drills, a letter a company assignment of colors details, and a quick tab preparing organization of our required knowledge folders for our big midterm tomorrow.  Tonight we go to bed very mentally (and always physically) drained, but we hope we ace our midterms and last another hopefully not too painful or devastating day tomorrow.

            Good night loved ones and cheer leaders! 


            Our fourth Friday at boot camp passed quickly today.  We were on the constant go and had little time to complete basic human essentials.  Our bathroom breaks really are not bathroom breaks at all, but cram study sessions, push up improvement times or wake up drills, performance tracker fill out sessions, and tiny spaces to maybe breathe for a moment or two if we’re lucky,

            Today’s main focus was on completing our midterm successfully and trying to quickly prepare for our official week 04 required knowledge deadline, which is tomorrow. We must all do this simultaneously while trying not to mess up on any behaviors, items, or tasks we’re now pressured to be on point with. I tell you, being a Coastie recruit is hard and frankly a taste of incarnate hell at times. The torment and stress never ends but continually builds, and we are all beyond drained. What we would give for an hour of self care time! Alas, the sharp grind continues, but at least the majority (if not all of us) passed our midterm today! One small step closer to our hopeful graduation and Coastie career futures! Some of us will begin colors (ceremonial flag morning and evening duty) soon and pray we can successfully and gracefully honor those who have stood by and served this country. Beginning this duty will hopefully inspire us a bit more and lift our spirits as we hoist the flag.

            For now though we’re heavily focused on passing our next bug inspection that will be held with Master Chief Berry. Please keep us in your prayers as we go into probably one of our most challenging weeks yet…week 05.



            This Saturday began well with the excitement of learning how to use pugil sticks and perform defensive and offensive movements. Our Company Commanders spent quality time instructing us how to prepare for our upcoming task this morning of eventually taking our new found fighting skills and testing them in the ring with each other. They explained to u that the pugil stick training was meant to help break down and “Flight vs. Fight” apprehensions and instead gain hands on practical fighting experience.

            When the time came for us to suit up and fight we placed layers of protective gear, mouth guards, and football helmets on ourselves and stepped into an outdoors boxing ring with F-189 opponent and our G-189 shipmates cheering us on from the outskirts of the ring. Everyone was given a padded pugil stick and when Petty Officer Garver blew the whistle, the fight was on! We had three rounds to successfully strike our opponent with a legal move. Each fight was exciting and invigorating, and we loved the opportunity to cheer each other on. Even our Company Commanders motivated and cheered us on. Pugil stick fighting was really a blast!…And it certainly revved up our appetites!

            Before heading to lunch our Company practiced our order arms and piece nomenclature with Petty Officer Russo in an attempt to prepare further for our mounting required knowledge. Our movements weren’t as concise and together today, but we’ll be practicing tomorrow during some of our “free time” during divine hours.

            After lunch we had a short class with Petty Officer Russo on watch standards in Sexton Hall, which week 05 recruits are required to do. It was a bit surreal for us to learn how to watch over brand new recruits seeing as it had been us not that long ago. For some reason we apparently are not maintaining our military bearing and focus and received punishment from Petty Officer Russo when we returned to the squad bay. Chief Duncan and Petty Officer LaFrance were also there and quickly altered the remainder of our Saturday afternoon and evening groundhog themed cleaning and moving frenzy. We were informed that our Section Commander, Chief Fredrickson, had inspected our squadbay and deemed us unworthy of living in James Hall anymore. So, there we were, yet again…scrambling to pack all of our belongings in 15 minutes to march outside and begin a long unending line of, “Work,work,work!” moving.

            Both companies stood outside till just prior to dinner passing all of our belongings assembly line style shouting, “Work!” Till we were ordered to bring all of our possessions to the Galley with us. We ate in a mass furry to regain our lost energy and then were quickly marched back outside. We continued to march our 100+ pounds strapped onto our bodies to wherever our new home would be.

            We were ordered to bring down our mattresses and pile them high to the sky. Eventually, after this tiring process, we were then ordered to move all of our belongings into Healy Hall. By the time we finally put in the last sea bag and mattress we needed to make out floor level beds, but we just could not move quick enough and were punished with a “fire, fire, fire!!!” drill and painful incentive training session. Our blood quickly pumped through our veins again and we were given the opportunity to finish setting up our new homes, but just as we finished, Lieutenant Stiefel arrived and ordered us out of the building. We marched over to Sexton Hall with all of our belongings, not knowing if we were going to spend the night there, but we were told we’d be given one more chance to stay in our 3rd floor James Hall home.      

            Completely drained and exhausted, we marched back to James Hall and began the arduous task of unpacking all of our belongings up 03 flights of stairs. A final piece incentive training session was waiting for us when we returned by Chief Duncan, and we gave it our best but depleted effort. Some of us will be staying up past our usual 2200 waking up early to only gain 05 or 06 hours of sleep. We’re all beyond tired but have a very bug and important day. Here’s to hoping we can make it!

             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.