Foxtrot 189 Recruit Journal: Week 04

Foxtrot 189 Recruit Journal: Week 04
Formed: Dec. 3, 2013
Graduates: Jan. 24, 2014

International Maritime Signal Flag Foxtrot

International Maritime Signal Flag Foxtrot


Adrenalin. In layman’s terms, it’s what the body produces, then uses to allow it to do things it is otherwise incapable of doing. It was a fairly uneventful day; some classes, some marching, a little bit of this, a little bit of that. Around 1600 we were told to change into PF gear and sweats. We were about to go on our first on base run as a company. We got in formation, and off we went, at a double time pace. With Petty Officer Garver and Chief Duncan calling cadence, it was difficult for everyone to stay in step. We were jogging for a good 20 minutes or so before people started dying and falling back. A few recruits had to walk to catch their breath. It didn’t bode well with the sharks in the water.

A few more minutes into the run, Petty Officer Garver decided that he wanted to give us a taste of what it’s like to have colors and be the senior company. He started singing cadence, and as a company, we had to repeat everything he said. We’ve been getting a lot louder lately. The whole base probably heard us. 02 or 03 verses into the cadence, it was as if we just started running. People didn’t look tired. We were loud, and we looked in sync. We looked like we knew what we were doing, like we owned the base.

The cadence made us feel more like a team than we ever have before. Adrenalin was a factor. It jump-started the recruits in the back. I’ve said before, that a team is only as strong as its weakest link. Today, during the run, in the middle of the cadence, we had no weak link. With day 23 done, we’ve made enormous strides. We’re still going to struggle at times. We’ll miss time objectives and we will get chewed out by company commanders. Who doesn’t? It’s what you do afterwards, how you deal with stress and failure. Right now, we have the recipe for success. Be loud, be fast. LEFT, LEFT, LEFT, RIGHT LEFT…


If you were 03 days away from a uniform inspection by the Battalion Commander, Master Chief Berry, would you be nervous? Just before muster tonight, Petty Officer Garver informed us that that was exactly the case. There’s nothing like hitting the racks with your nerves boiling from the possibility of instant reversion if you fail the inspection. At least the rest of our day went pretty well. We had some morning classes on enlisted careers and housing, both topics were informative yet complicated at the same time. Petty Officer Perusin, our instructor, did a nice job of clearing up what he could.

During afternoon chow, one of our shipmates was standing pack watch outside. Since we came straight from class we had to leave our rucksacks outside in a pile. Well, the proper procedure for standing watch is to greet any permanent party member that walks by and hold your hand up and say, “Halt, property of Foxtrot 189 you are not in my chain of command” if that person attempts to take whatever you may be watching. Unfortunately, our shipmate did not do it correctly. As we were eating, Chief Duncan yelled “Eyes” which is a command to look at him. He then pointed outside for us all to see our rucksacks getting taken by other Company Commanders and scattered throughout the base. It was like an Easter egg hunt mixed with a scavenger hunt as we exited the Galley.

Recruits were going every which way. Some rucksacks were in trees, some were in the middle of fields, and some were on top of posts. They were everywhere. After another good meal, it’s rare that the food here isn’t good, we headed to the Learning Resource Center (LRC) for one of the big steps here at TRACEN; we took our mid-term exam. Most everyone did well. With four failures, and one retest failure, that ended in reversion, we only lost one shipmate.

Then, like clockwork, we returned to the squadbay to find it and the head, had been thrashed yet again. I’ve lost count at this point. It was so bad this time we literally could not even walk inside the head without cleaning it. We physically wouldn’t fit. A giant cabinet was tipped over in the doorway; tons and tons of toilet paper soiled the ground. Let’s not forget the usual toothpaste and shaving cream spread everywhere.

We have the cleanup routine down at this point. I think we had the head immaculate in about 30 cumulative minutes. After a late night “FIRE, FIRE, FIRE”, because a shipmate did not know how to “Submit it” correctly after being given 05 chances, we did muster, devoured our chewy bars, and went to sleep. On the itinerary for tomorrow: Pugil Sticks (simulated close order combat with a rifle). That should be interesting.


If one were to describe today, it would take well over 02 pages. I’m going to have to skip over the minor details and just give you the meat and potatoes. We had pugil stick lessons this morning around 0900. That was pretty fun. After the lessons we made our way to the track, where the ring, helmet, and pads were waiting for us. All of the guys immediately started sizing each other up and eyeballing one another. We lined up, smallest to tallest and the bouts began. It was Foxtrot versus Golf. Everyone got matched up with someone approximately the same size as him or her. Then the excitement commenced. Petty Officer Garver allowed us to let loose a little and cheer on our shipmates. There were some bore fests, some slugfests, some surprises and some disappointments. One shipmate got his helmet’s earpiece knocked out, another got knocked a clear 10 yards out of the ring. All in all, it was a fun and entertaining couple of hours.

Then, when afternoon chow was done, our nightmare began. We were getting ready to call mission complete after the usual head and water break, when Petty Officer LaFrance walked in. If there’s one thing we’ve figured out as week 04 comes to an end, it’s that whenever we see Petty Officer LaFrance, we’re going to work and we’re going to sweat.

Both cases were true tonight. Her only words to us were “Pack everything you own and get outside”. We know this drill. We’ve done it before. We packed up everything, formed ‘Golftrot’ outside and then the beating began. We marched all over the place, carrying over 100 lbs of gear making our way to Sexton Hall. Once there, we made our racks inspection ready. We were exhausted. Marching, pushing, squatting; the whole nine yards.

Like dominoes, we were getting one punishment after another. This one came in the form of Battalion Officer Lieutenant Stiefel. She walked in, and basically kicked us out. So again, we had to pack up everything we owned. We then marched back to James Hall, unloaded, cleaned and set everything up.

Problem is what are we going to sleep on? So we had to go back to Sexton Hall and got all of the mattresses. It was a long night. I’m sore; I’m sure I’m not the only one. After taking muster and the night coming to an end, we got a nice little speech from Petty Officer LaFrance about what it is to be a Coast Guardsmen and since we are now entering week 05, a whole lot more is going to be expected of us. Hopefully, it will light a fire under us. It worked last time. Let’s see if we can go 02 for 02. To sum it all up, any time you end a day with 02 apple cinnamon bars is a good day. Too bad we can’t get 02 after every meal. With the amount of I.T. we’re doing, we could use the calories.


You’d think on a Sunday, with about 05 Divine hours to basically do what we want in the squadbay, we’d be relaxed and relieved. That was not the case today. We are 01 day away from an Inspection by the Battalion Commander, Master Chief Berry. We spent the entire time ironing and plucking every loose thread the eye could see. Every detail counts, especially when there’s the possibility of getting reverted on the spot. Luckily, we got a detailed checklist from Petty Officer LaFrance on what exactly needs to be done. Petty Officer LaFrance also gave us some tips on how to clean our Operational Dress Uniforms and how to shine our boondockers. We are getting set up for success. So if we fail, it’s all on us.

After evening chow, we were given an immense amount of time to further prepare. Petty Officer Gunther and Petty Officer Russo popped in every now and then to guide us in the right direction. They also came in to see who was and who wasn’t doing something productive. There had to be around 20 people that were caught “smoking and joking”.

They were punished, Chief Duncan style. All of the slackers were taken into the fantail (rear of the squadbay) for their punishment. Some of the reasons for the punishments were ridiculous. Ridiculous in the sense that, “why are people making these types of mistakes when its about to be week 05”. It makes no sense to me or my shipmates, who spent the night preparing instead of pushing. Nobody’s perfect, everyone makes mistakes, as I found out tonight. Tomorrow is inspection day; sleep easy.


Inspection day is complete. My shipmates and I narrowly survived reversion, for now. A few recruits were placed on probation for not having their uniforms up to par. No one has ever sent chills down your spine, made goose bumps on your skin, or made your heart rate rise immensely, as Chief Frederickson does as he walks by you while performing a uniform inspection. Especially when you know his authority and what he’s capable of as a Section Commander, instant reversion being one.

Today we began SAR week (Search and Rescue). That basically means we wake up at 0530 and have to be in the Galley eating by 0550, in full Operational Dress Uniforms. That’s 20 minutes to get dressed and march over to chow. Safe to say, this week is all about speed. Seconds matter. Everything we do here and everything we’re taught by Petty Officer Garver, Petty Officer LaFrance and Petty Officer Gunther has a purpose and can be translated to the work life in the fleet.

We had a class at Seamanship today on operational risk management. It was interesting and surprising how much we actually assess situations for the amount of risk before acting. Towards the end of the night, we were practicing Manual of Arms while Petty Officer LaFrance quizzed us on our weekly required knowledge. A few of my shipmates, including myself, were placed on academic probation for a couple of days. Which means every night, we have to report to Petty Officer Garver, to show our progress. It’s going to be stressful, but I think it will help in the long run.

Our Company Commanders want us to succeed so we know they’ll do their part. We just have to do ours and study. Study, study, study. If anyone thinks Coast Guard Boot Camp is a long intense workout with people screaming at you, you’re right. There’s also a plethora of knowledge they teach you that you MUST know. It’s like cramming 01 year of school into 07 and a half weeks, on top of all the physical parts. Coast Guard Boot Camp is not for the average person. The average person will fail here. We are reminded of that every day. It’s more motivation to keep it going.


It’s the last day of 2013 and Foxtrot 189 only has a handful of New Year’s resolutions: be fast, sound off, and know your required knowledge. Today we spent most of the morning at the Uniform Distribution Center. We got fitted for and issued our dress uniforms for graduation, which is only 24 days away (hopefully). We then had a class on radio procedures. Petty Officer Thompson was informative as always.

Foxtrot 189 gained another member today due to reversion. Bringing our total to 22. He made a great first impression by leading us in Manual of Arms and piece nomenclature practice. For New Years Eve we had Petty Officer LaFrance and Petty Officer Gunther. Most of Foxtrot will be getting there orders on where there units will be and when they have to report in this coming week. That is assuming we earn it and Petty Officer Garver allows it. Only time will tell.

Tomorrow is day 03 of SAR week and we also have our Seamanship midterm. As the day goes on, the amount of work we’re doing and required knowledge we’re studying is increasing and the amount of sleep we’re getting is decreasing. Not a good combination. 2013 here, 2014 almost everywhere else. 06 hours till wakeup, happy New Year everyone!

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.