Recruit Journal Foxtrot 189: Week 06

Recruit Journal Foxtrot 189: Week 06

Formed: Dec. 3, 2013

Graduates: Jan. 24, 2014


International Maritime Signal Flag Foxtrot

International Maritime Signal Flag Foxtrot



For all of the everyday workers, the grinders, the 9-5rs, Wednesday is a day you look forward to. It signifies that the week is halfway over, that it’s all ‘downhill’ from here. Here at TRACEN Cape May, week 05 could fall under that title. It is roughly the halfway point of recruit training. It should be all ‘downhill’ from here, right? Wrong. Week 05 goes by a different name here. It’s the “Week 05 dive”. Just when you think you’ve got it figured out, that you can cruise to graduation, you get a swift right hook and are knocked off your pedestal.


Today, all of Foxtrot and Golf came to the harsh realization: no one is safe. 05 shipmates were told that they have an appointment with the Section Commander and are being recommended for reversion. It was a reality check for everyone. There’s no such thing as going “under the radar”. Foxtrot has to step their game up. When we finished afternoon chow, we took a long march to seamanship class at Goff Hall.


After our midterm, which we all did fairly well on, we had a class on personal flotation devices (PFD). We learned how to quickly put on a PFD. We even had a class competition to see who could do it the fastest. The winner did it in about 15 seconds buckled and strapped correctly.


Our next evolution was a staring contest, for over an hour, with a white cinderblock wall. Spoiler Alert: The wall won. When we got back to the squadbay, we were instructed to face the bulkhead and stare. When Petty Officer LaFrance gives an order, you don’t question it, you obey. 10 minutes went by, then 20, and then 30. Before we knew it, it was 2130 and time for muster.


There are different forms of discipline, some mental, some physical. We learned today that each is affective in its own way. Tomorrow is another day, day 04 of SAR (Search and Rescue), day 02 OF 2014. We need to finish week 05 strong.




After a morning gym workout, today went by pretty fast. We got some extra marching in by going to the wrong classroom first. The more marching practice we get the better. When we finished afternoon chow, we marched around the regiment for a while while Petty Officer Garver explained each post we will be standing watch at tomorrow. Charlie Company is leaving us tomorrow, their 08 weeks is up. Today, we received a crash course on our duties for tomorrow. You could say that most of today was spent preparing for tomorrow. We have a big weekend coming up. Graduation watch is tomorrow, moving into Healey Hall, confidence course on Saturday and a very important manual of arms test preparation on Sunday.


A long exciting weekend is ahead. Today, we ended the evening at a blood drive. Every recruit signed up and donated blood for a good cause. They took a whole pint from us! I can finally say I’ve donated blood. Several of my shipmates can too. SAR week, day 05 is tomorrow. Late to bed early to rise is the theme.




On Wednesday evening, Father Fronk informed us that we should expect around 03 inches of snow on Friday. Cool, we thought. Who doesn’t like a little snow? Well, today we woke up to blizzard like conditions. There were 15-20mph winds and at least 18 inches of snow. After morning chow and during the never-ending snowstorm, Foxtrot spent the next few hours shoveling snow. We cleared all of the sidewalks and pathways in preparation for Charlie-189’s graduation. There were mounds and mounds of it. When we finished that, which was basically a workout, we began our watch rotation. We were posted on the streets directing traffic and at entrances opening doors.


It was an eventful day. Each recruit had 02 watches. Transiting to and from was miserable. You had to walk with your head down to avoid the blistering snow getting pounded against your face. If you made the mistake of raising your head it looked like a barren snow covered wasteland. Plow trucks everywhere, freezing recruits scattered about the regiment making paths, all you could hear was either the wind howling or a recruit getting “jacked up” by a Company Commander for not maintaining their military bearing.


The day ended slightly more chaotic than it began. Both of Foxtrots Yeomans got sent to RAMP for being the cause of the Colors team missing their duty. As a result, we couldn’t properly hold muster so we had to borrow Golf’s Yeoman to fill in for the night. We were expecting to move into Healey Hall and did not. We had a lot more time to practice and fine-tune our manual of arms and piece nomenclature. About 90% of us have it down. That number should be at 100% come test time next week. Since our on-base liberty depends on how well we do, there is much more incentive to nail it. SAR week is coming to an end. Moving this fast in the morning is all of a sudden becoming a habit. We’ll see what new habits we attain during week 06. It’s only 01 day away.




After another morning of shoveling snow, Foxtrot 189 loaded up on some carbohydrates at morning chow. We then proceeded to the gym for another infamous bike workout. You get dead-legs if done correctly. After showers were taken, the next event was a big one for most recruits. Everyone got his or her orders. Reservists and some shipmates who were reverted to us already knew where their units were. 01 shipmate is going to Alaska, 03 to Hawaii and the rest spread around the continental United States.


Personally, my unit is a Port Security Unit out of San Francisco, California. Although getting orders was a joyous occasion, we had to maintain our military bearing when leaving the classroom. We did a fairly good job. One shipmate fell asleep in class and got 01 night of RAMP. After more snow shoveling and afternoon chow, we had our second class with our company mentors.


They answered any and all questions we had. Since everyone got their orders, everyone had at least a question or two. It was yet another informative class here at Cape May. We ended the night with quite a bit of manual of arms practice. We even learned a new routine cadence that we plan on performing for Chief Frederickson. Petty Officer Garver has dubbed it “Secret Squirrel Ops” so I can’t give any details. Those will come after the actual test.


We then received a speech from Petty Officer LaFrance. It was a good one too. The reason was basically to ensure that we don’t get ahead of ourselves just because we have our orders. She reminded us that we still have 03 weeks left here. It’s far from over. Even if it is, we have to make sure our discipline and military bearing carries over into the fleet. While we are here, we have to keep our bearings at all times, even when there are no company commanders around. It’s about to be week 06. A lot is expected of us, there are no more excuses when making a week 02 mistake, like not shaving during the day, forgetting to tuck your laces in or not giving the proper greeting. A mistake like that in week 02 would have earned you an earful from a company commander or, at worst, a performance tracker.


Now week 06, RAMP or worse is more likely. As we head into another week, it’s clear we’re making great strides and taking big steps. Hopefully we can stay humble and hungry and set the goal everyday: “Impress our company commanders”.




A few weeks ago, I started an entry with “the grass is always greener” tagline. That same tagline could be used for today’s entry. After morning chow, we commenced the usual Divine hours, marched off to chow, and then had a pretty intense run along with a push-up and pull-up challenge. It’s all in preparation for “The Master Chief Berry Challenge” which is basically a series of intense workouts, all done one after the other. It starts with a 02 mile timed run, then 60 pull-ups, and as many push-ups as possible in 03 minutes. It’s intense.


After that we proceeded to pack up all of our stuff and begin the trek to Munro Hall. Foxtrot 189 is now one of the senior companies on the regiment. We are now being held more accountable for our actions. Proof being, after our move, 04 shipmates from Foxtrot had to go see one of the Section Commanders, Chief Johnson. Those 04 had not yet passed our week 05 required knowledge and since we are entering week 06, that’s a problem. Myself and 01 other shipmate passed and were sent back to Foxtrot company. 01 other shipmate struggled and was placed on 03-day probation. Our teamwork will be tested now, as we must rally to help our shipmate. Unfortunately, the last shipmate did not pass, and has been reverted back 02 weeks to Hotel-189. He was a good shipmate, always giving 100% and helping others. He just struggled in the classroom area. After our shipmate left, Petty Officer Garver talked to us about it, the rest of recruit training and what’s expected of us. Every time he gives us a speech at muster, whether it’s after a day where we couldn’t hit a single time objective, or a day where we were nailing everything and being as loud as can be, his words are felt. You can see his passion and how bad he wants this company to succeed and in turn have everyone in Foxtrot 189 succeed. He always tells us how he doesn’t carry over training days. Well, tomorrow is a new day, the beginning of week 06. There’s nothing better than starting the week off right.




Today, at the early hour of 0700, we began classes on what will surely be a big part of every recruits Coast Guard career. That is, fire fighting. We have a fire fighting class every day this week. The first class we learned the different classes of fires and how to identify, as well as how to extinguish them. Petty Officer Thompson always manages to instill his knowledge upon us. In a few days we will be getting hands on training in a full fire suit and everything. With 05 days of class and each class 04 hours long, we’re bound to learn a lot. When we finished afternoon chow, recruits had a rough time dodging the sniper table in the galley, otherwise known as the company commander table.


Foxtrot was pretty scattered around after that. A few had dental appointments, most were at swim class, and the last few went to the ward to ice. By the time we all made it back to the squadbay, we began Manual of Arms practice. It’s much needed since our test is tomorrow. We got a solid 02 hours in before we stopped. We’re looking much more crisp and clean than yesterday. Petty Officer Gunther even said he thinks we can get a perfect score, a 10. We’ll find out tomorrow. Test is at 1300.




Foxtrot 189 is nearly halfway done with week 06. Yet today felt like week 02. In a day that started as the coldest one yet, even though not a flake of snow fell, we spent lots of time doing I.T. (Incentive Training) Lots! After morning chow, we took the 20-minute march to Goff Hall where we spent the next 04 hours.


It was only a frigid -07 degrees with the wind chill. During class we suited up in a self-contained breathing apparatus. We learned the proper way to attach and disassemble them as well as how to breathe and properly maneuver while wearing them. The next class will probably revolve around the actual fire protection gear. After chow is when the week 02 shenanigans began.


First, we looked like we had no idea where we were going when exiting the Galley. Also, we weren’t even matching for some reason. Some recruits had hoods up with ball caps, others with watch covers. The thing that really set it off though was about 04 shipmates, for some reason, took the wrong traffic pattern. Anyone who’s been to or knows about Coast Guard boot camp can tell you that is a big ‘no-no’. We were supposed to have our manual of arms test today. Due to the ridiculous weather, it was cancelled. Which means, a perfect opportunity for us to sweat. And sweat we did. Piece I.T. Break. Piece I.T. Break. Self discipline chant with canteen. Clean. Break. Piece I.T. Shower. Lights out. That pretty much sums up the last 04 hours of our night. Week 06 Company making week 02 mistakes. No one’s fault but our own. Tomorrow is a new day. Back to the week 06 grind.




As Foxtrot 189 enters the back end of week 06, nerves are amplified now more than ever. We are held to a higher standard – and rightfully so – we are critiqued more closely and have to earn every privilege, including a few we had taken away.


There was proof of all of this today. Petty Officer Garver brought the hammer down, showing he means business and staying true to his word that week 06 is a new game. A total of 05 recruits from Foxtrot alone were sent to RAMP (recruit aptitude and motivation program) I made it 06 and a half weeks without RAMP. It was bound to happen sooner or later. It’s considered a rite of passage at boot camp. I’ve written about it a few times even though I had never been.


Well, now you can hear it from the horse’s mouth: it sucks, big time. 02 hours of I.T. on steroids. Moving barrels, pulling rope, push-ups, and sit-ups, planking and running. That’s just off the top of my head. With only 03 water breaks totaling 15 minutes over 02 hours, it’s not for the faint of heart.


All in all, it was easily the hardest part of the day. Earlier we took a trip to the Uniform Distribution Center where we all got our dress uniforms tailored. To top it off, the Public Affairs Officer came in to take pictures of a couple of us in uniform. Myself being one of them. So anyone reading this, be sure to check out the official TRACEN Facebook page:  


U.S. Coast Guard Training Center Cape May (Official)


They might be posted soon. If tomorrow goes as planned it could be the most exciting entry yet. We finally have our Manual of Arms test, we have our second round of Pugil Stick bouts, and we have 04-hour fire fighting practical. Considering its 2300 right now and I have to stand watch at 0430, I should probably call it a night. Foxtrot 189, another day in the books.




There was lots of success today for Foxtrot 189. We had our Manual of Arms test, took our first trip to the confidence course, and listened to our shipmate chant “Mmm that’s a good chewy bar” to end the night. Our manual of arms test went pretty well. We were judged by Chief Frederickson with all of the company commanders from Foxtrot and Golf watching. We scored a 09 out of a possible 10. Our sister company, Golf scored 08. It’s not like we’re in competition with each other or anything though! After carb loading at chow and doing some marching drills in preparation for our close order drill test next week, we changed into physical fitness gear and headed over to the Confidence Course. 


Our company mentors showed up to watch and even participate! After a walkthrough consisting of Petty Officer Garver and Petty Officer Gunther going over each obstacle to show us the proper way to do it, we had our fun. And it was a good workout at the same time, especially the 25-foot rope climb at the end.


Surprisingly, only 02-03 recruits from each company didn’t make it. That’s good in anyone’s eyes. Finally, the end of our night, while I was transferring the Historian entries to the computer, most of my shipmates were in the squadbay squaring themselves away. Except for 01 shipmate. He mistakenly walked on the quarterdeck before swallowing his last bite of chewy bar. Busted. You can’t sneak anything past Chief Duncan.


Chief Duncan then sent him on a mission: “Go to Petty Officer Gunther’s office, and ask to be disciplined”. So he did. His punishment? Standing up, arms fully extended all the while chanting, “Mmm that’s a good chewy bar” in slow motion, as slow as possible. And that’s how the night ended, more or less. Tomorrow, Delta and Echo Company graduate. We have watch duties to support them. Another rough one.


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.