Foxtrot Recruit Journal: Week 07

Foxtrot Recruit Journal: Week 07
Formed: Dec. 3, 2013
Graduates: Jan. 24, 2014

 

International Maritime Signal Flag Foxtrot

International Maritime Signal Flag Foxtrot

FRIDAY10JAN14

It’s official. Foxtrot is now the senior company on the regiment. Delta and Echo graduated today. We were standing watch all over the place for support, in a total downpour. Everything went seemingly well. After watch duties were over and everyone gathered for afternoon chow, Foxtrot made its way to the galley. When we were finished eating we had a class on sexual harassment taught by the Training Officer, Commander Smith. During this class we watched a video of a dramatized event, which surely happens a lot in the real world. We paused the video periodically to analyze and assess the situation and talk about what should and shouldn’t have been done.

Our first reality check, that we are the senior company, came today as well. We received our cell phones back for on base liberty tomorrow. We just have to act like a senior company. One major thing left that we have not earned yet is our colors. We know we’re going to have to die to get them. We don’t care. We’ve come too far to give up on a little I.T. (incentive training) now. We need to get our mind off of our upcoming liberty and on what matters. Getting our colors, graduating, and starting our careers as Coast Guardsmen and women.

SATURDAY11JAN14

“FIRE, FIRE, FIRE” is not how we woke up today. The past week our
company commanders have put their trust in our yeoman to wake us up. We’re week 07 recruits now. There are more and more things that our company commanders are entrusting us to do on our own. After morning chow, we changed into our workout gear and got lined up in front of Munro Hall. Hotel company joined our ranks and we formed one massive squad. This morning, we were about to go on a run with Senator Booker. We marched at a double time outside the regiment where we met with him and his entourage.

Some photographers and newscasters also made their way over. We then began our run with the Senator leading the way. 03 different Company Commanders took turns leading cadence. Petty Officer Garver got the ball rolling, followed by Petty officer Gunther and Petty Officer Casey finishing it off. Each one added their unique rhythm and sound. They were all equally energizing. When that was finished we had a little Piece I.T. / nomenclature session while the Senator watched. We did pretty well for how tired and sweaty we were.

Our next task was afternoon chow, followed by a debrief on rules and regulations for our on base liberty. We received our cell phones and marched in small groups to the Exchange. The feeding frenzy began. Recruits were buying candy and chocolates left and right. Stomachaches from sugar crashes are currently plaguing the squad bay. When we were finished at the Exchange everyone eventually made their way to the Harbor View Club where we all spent the remaining 05 hours of liberty. Every recruit was glued to his or her phone. Talking, texting, FaceTime. There was lots of catching up to do. Luckily, no one lost track of why we’re here, what we’re doing and how much time we have left.

We still have 02 weeks. About 15 minutes before we had to leave every recruit got up, turned his or her phones off and started cleaning the place. 10 minutes later we were lined up outside and began the march back. We were 100% locked on and ready to knock out the next 02 weeks. We may not have started with 19 recruits in Foxtrot in week 01, but it’s what we have now and it’s what we plan to graduate with.

SUNDAY12JAN14

When we woke up this morning, we knew we had to start fast and loud. We had our on base liberty yesterday so it may be expected for us to be a little sluggish. If Operation Fireside is any indicator, we know having days off won’t slow us down. Petty Officer Garver mentioned it when he was briefing us, “You guys only respond to positive feedback”. Today we showed that no one would ever known we had a day off. We spent a lot of time preparing for our dress uniform inspection by Lieutenant Stiefel on Tuesday. We also spent a good portion of the evening preparing for our close order drill test, which is also on Tuesday. That will be a long and busy day.

Petty Officer Garver took us through the entire test and we got to practice just about every type of march. We were marching around the regiment for over an hour. When that was finished, we were released to the squadbay to clean, do uniform maintenance and study required knowledge. A select few “lucky” people got to hang out with Petty Officer Gunther and Petty Officer LaFrance on the quarterdeck. By hang out, I mean they got slaughtered. All we could hear from the squadbay was “FASTER, FASTER!” “COME ON! PULL THE LINE!”

Petty Officer Gunther sounded terrifying. If you listened closely you could hear the faint voice of a dying recruit. Each time it got softer and softer. “AYE AYE Petty Officer Gunther!” They were reminding us that we’re still here, at boot camp. A lot can happen in 02 weeks. We have to keep our mouths shut and our eyes in the boat.

TUESDAY14JAN14

Today was yet again a reality check for Foxtrot 189. Even though we only have a week and a half left, a lot can happen in that short amount of time. Proof being today, another recruit got reverted. Integrity issues mixed with falling asleep in class don’t bode well. During week 07, that’s a nail in your coffin. The ranks are continuing to thin as the challenges continue to grow. Today was the close order drill test. We got a 08 out of 10. Not bad, but could have been better. An I.T. session afterwards got that point across. The most important part of the day had to be when we did a run through of one portion of the Master Chief Berry Challenge. We had to pack up everything we owned and get to the quarterdeck. When we were there, Petty Officer Gunther and Petty Officer LaFrance proceeded to thrash our squadbay. Then, we were given a time objective. 48 minutes to make the squad bay and head look immaculate and make inspection ready racks. This evolution is exactly how it will be during the real thing. We accomplished the time objective, however each recruit had a few discrepancies with their rack. So, we did it again. We were much quicker and more organized the second time. We finished with 03 minutes to spare. When Petty Officer Gunther looked our racks up and down he said they were much better than the first time.

There’s still a lot of room to improve though. After we took muster, we had a company meeting in the back of the squadbay, recruits only. We basically talked about ideas and strategies on how to knock this challenge out. It was a good talk and showed that when pushed, we can come together as team. This was also apparent, as we were getting ready for our uniform inspection by the Battalion Officer, Lieutenant Stiefel. Overall it was good, some people needed to clip some loose threads, others needed to shine their shoes more. The main thing Mrs. Stiefel was looking for was if the uniform fit how it should. When we were preparing, you could see all of us fixing each other’s tie, getting lint off each other’s back. Everyone left in Foxtrot wants everyone else to succeed. We want to graduate with everyone; we want to graduate with our Company Commanders. We have to stay locked on for 10 more days.

WEDNESDAY15JAN14

0500 wake up and straight to the gym has been the theme this week. It was no different today. After a 60-minute weight workout, shower and morning chow, we headed over to Seamanship for the last time. A sad thought. Petty Officer Thompson was a great teacher. After our final, Petty Officer Thompson announced which companies received the Seamanship Pennant. The Seamanship Pennant is when the company averaged, as a whole, above 90% for an overall grade. Foxtrot received the pennant. That’s 03 hanging from our Colors now out of a possible 03 so far.

The most prestigious one that we are still in the running for is the Battalion Commander’s Pennant. It’s a culmination of physical fitness, required knowledge, and just how squared away your rack and squad bay is. It’s hard to get. You start with 100 points and every 01 thing wrong counts as 01 “gig”. 03 gigs count as 01 points deducted. You must finish, as a company, with a 90 or better. Less than 30% of company’s qualify; a fact given to us by Petty Officer Garver that we can turn into motivation. Marching to and from chow lately, especially today, has involved singing lots of different cadences. Depending on which Company Commander is leading us determines what cadence we sing. Finally, the last few hours of the day were spent making up missed classes, tests, getting our personal qualification standard all stamped and up to date. Further preparing us for graduation. The males also got their last haircut today.

Every other male recruit in every other company gets a straight buzz cut. Not Foxtrot. Today we got our “High and Tight”. Clean cut and easily identifiable as the senior company on the regiment. Almost there Foxtrot. We can’t wait to be a part of the fleet. Staying locked on and focused.

THURSDAY16JAN14

Almost all of today was spent preparing for our final exam tomorrow and the last week of recruit training. Off base liberty is in 02 days and it was honestly the last thing on our minds. After gym followed by morning chow, we spent the next couple hours studying for the final. Everything we learned up to this point will be on it. After that, recruits started stragging in small groups to the Learning Resource Center. While there, multiple tasks were being accomplished. More studying being one, but more importantly Foxtrot recruits began making contact with their units. Most over the phone, some by email and a few that have been unsuccessful so far. The time difference is a huge factor.

After a short wait to get out of chow, since there are now 05 companies on the regiment after Juliet arrived, we headed to the classroom for back-to-back classes. The first was on sexually transmitted diseases and contraception and the second was on government vehicles. The first class was more so meant to inform us of risks and precautions to take; the second was teaching us about government vehicles and policies to abide by. Then came chow and a bike workout and a little required knowledge quizzing thrown in. Some soared, some sunk. I missed a key question and then became Petty Officer Garver’s number 01 target. I was told to recite, all 11 General Orders. Did it. A few collar devices and pay grades. Did it. For some reason I kept drawing a blank on the Oscar 07 shoulder board. 01 white star below 01 white anchor behind 01 white Coast Guard shield on a field of gold. So easy, yet I couldn’t spit it out.

Near the end of week 07 too. Great time to drop the ball. It’s good practice for us though. If we can say it under pressure, we can say it anytime. It’s preparing us for doing real, important tasks in the fleet. We know that, Petty Officer Garver knows that. That’s why he does it. We have a long day tomorrow. Final exam at 0800.

FRIDAY17JAN14

In a day that started typically and ended uniquely, today was a long but good day. Wake up, gym, admin time, chow. Immediately after our second meal of the day, we changed into physical fitness gear and prepared for the Munro Mile. The Munro Mile is a sprint. All out, 100% for 01 mile. The course took us out and around part of the regiment. It was nice getting off the track for a cardio workout. That was followed by more free time, which most recruits used for uniform maintenance in preparation for off base liberty tomorrow. Easily, the best part of the day was in the evening.

Around 2000, we were instructed to get to the fantail and prepare for the “apocalypse”. Once there, Petty Officer Russo, Petty Officer Garver and Chief Duncan walked in. They were out of uniform wearing “CC” attire, red sweatpants and grey sweatshirts. Only CC’s wear them. They tell us to sit down and for the next 02 hours we were smoking and joking with our company commanders. (note: not literally, as this is just a ‘saying’ in the Coast Guard) They told us stories about their careers, what they think the best/funniest part of our training was. We got to talk to them while sitting down, with inside voices and laughing with them. Everyone was having a good time. I’d say it was a good night.

SATURDAY18JAN14

Off base liberty was an exciting time. Most recruits think it’s just a day off given to us by the company commanders. While that’s partially true, it’s also a test. Our company commanders want to see how we act when off base, in uniform and away from our superiors. We handled it no problem today. It was about 0930 when we got into the cabs outside the regiment. Our first stop was where most recruits go at some point during their off base, Wal-mart.

We dispersed quickly, like cockroaches away from a flashlight. Once we got what we needed, we regrouped outside and went to a hotel where we planned to relax for a while. We were told marching was not required. It’s been driven into our brains at this point, so while going around town we were all naturally marching and squaring our corners. After we checked into our hotel, we did exactly what we planned we were going to do. We relaxed, talked on the phone, and ate junk food, every recruit’s off base liberty dream. By the time chow rolled around, we were hungry. We gathered up, made our way to the Rio Grande Station Sports Bar and Grill. There were 07 of us. We got a table and the waitress couldn’t have been nicer, even though it looked like she was swamped being the only one working. As we were sitting there, several people greeted us and thanked us for our service.

They knew we were on liberty and the community couldn’t have been more welcoming. As we were leaving, a lady even asked to have her picture taken with us. “Absolutely!” we said. By the time that was done we had to start making our way back to the squadbay. Being late would be a horrible start to week 08. We got back, signed in, and our usual evening routine began. We haven’t lost a step and we don’t plan to anytime soon.

SUNDAY19JAN14

Foxtrot-189’s last Sunday at boot camp. We started security watches today on top of our normal rotation. For the new security watches, we were fully dressed in our Bravo uniforms complete with jacket and combo cover. Today’s watch, myself and shipmate Wagner had to walk around the regiment checking every squad bay where there was a company and some where there was not. We had to slap our hands on each squad bay door and yell “Security”. Next, we had to wait for the “All clear” response. The total run took about 30 minutes. After that we headed to afternoon chow. Next evolution on the itinerary was one that a lot of recruits looked forward to. It’s no surprise. We were happy we were able to put piece I.T. behind us. We turned our pieces in at Goff hall and then had a long march back.

That meant plenty of time to sing cadence. Petty Officer Garver, Petty Officer Gunther and Petty Officer Russo each took turns and offered their own verse. My shipmates and I agree, the best part is when we’re walking by other companies and we add their name into the verse. Hotel and India Company usually fall victim the most. Our night ended with a little graduation preparation (which is weird considering we still have to get through the Master Chief Berry Challenge tomorrow) where we filled out index cards with some required info. Back to the Master Chief Berry Challenge. It’s scary.

During evening routine you could overhear numerous recruits saying how nervous they are. What it consists of is: as many pushups as you can do when counting in 5’s (pushup then hold for 05 sec), as many sit-ups as you can do in 03 minutes, as many pull ups as you can do in the same format as pushups, a timed 100 meter swim, burn as many calories as possible in a 01 hour bike ride on a stationary bike, a timed 02 mile run. Everyone is scored and you are graded on how well you do.

Finally, the portion that recruits fear the most, the rack/squadbay inspection and required knowledge test. Every bit of this challenge takes place tomorrow. Starting at 0600 with the bike ride. It’s 2245 right now, I’d get some sleep right now but I’ve got watch in 01 hour along with other shipmates throughout the night. Tomorrow is going to be rough.

Monday20JAN14

04 days until graduation. You’d think Foxtrot would be stress free. Not the case today, although it may look like a typical day, gym, chow, class, class, chow. All the while stressing about the rack inspection we have in the evening. The first big moment of the day was the capping ceremony. It’s where we pin the U.S. Coast Guard emblem on our Coast Guard caps that we finally get to wear.

The old “Recruit” ones will be stored in our racks now. The caps were crisp and clean and we couldn’t be more excited to wear them. Even though we did all the physical parts of the Master Chief Berry Challenge, there was still constant worry about the inspection. Especially since Petty Officer Garver told us stories of recruits getting reverted on the spot for not having “good to go” racks. On the other hand, the most fun part of the day was easily when we had a debrief with Chief Griffin, Petty Officer LaFrance and Petty Officer Gunther. All three of them were pretty funny, normal people. All good things must come to an end. When the time came in the evening, Master Chief Berry and Chief Frederickson showed up. We packed up all our stuff, went to the quarterdeck and waited as our squad bay was thrashed. We had 48 minutes. The mission: clean to perfection and make inspection ready racks. 13 discrepancies will equal a failure and makes you ineligible for the Battalion Commander’s Pennant. We were 04 minutes late. That’s 04 gigs.

Technically, we were on time, but we decided to go help Golf, which made us late. Not a good start. In our squadbay we tallied a total of 09 more, which put us at 13. Disqualification. We were bummed but we gave it our best and helped our sister company in the process. Can’t complain about that. After taps, it was shower and chewy bars and then it’s time for bed. Lots to do tomorrow, lunch with Captain Prestige on Wednesday!
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.

Roster: http://www.tracencapemay.uscgnews.com/external/content/document/4007/2076842/1/F-G-189.pdf

 

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