Sierra 189 Recruit Journal: Week 02

Formed: April 15, 2014
Graduates: June 6, 2014

We are Sierra-189


At about 1930, we get off the bus at Cape May. And right away the recruit experience begins. Basic responses to commands are taught, and the idea of going fast is never more important. We are thrust into a change that is easy for some and tougher for others. Civilians are starting our slow but great transition into functioning members of the United States Coast Guard. We are put to bed at about 2230, and anticipation for the next eight weeks sets in. We’re here!


0600 comes early, and our sleepy ears are greeted with commands to “brush our fangs” and get to where we need to be. After a quick breakfast, we step off to the Uniform Distribution Center. The personnel at the Uniform

Distribution Center are nice, but firm, to ensure we still know we’re at Basic Training. There, we are sized and fitted for our Physical Fitness Gear and Operational Dress Uniforms. The sight of the name tag, soon to sewn onto a uniform, sends butterflies into our stomachs. Could it be that soon, we would be wearing those uniforms? The rest of the day passes in a blur. That evening, we eat in the galley for the first time, and the food is amazing. The galley staff has the kudos of the forming company! Later, paperwork is signed, showers are quick, and lights out is welcomed.


Early morning greets the forming company once again, and we step off for breakfast, or morning chow. The galley food continues to impress, and we are thankful. Long hours are spent at Medical; processing sixty-plus recruits is a task easier said than done! The medical staff is like the Uniform Distribution Center staff, in the way that they speak at a normal volume, but still expect you to maintain what little military bearing you’ve been taught. That night, lights out is welcomed once again, and we are anxious for the next day: forming with company.


Today is the day. Very early, we are woken up and told to eat breakfast; it’s light this morning. We are then taken to the Gym, where we are expected to complete the Coast Guard Physical Fitness Test. Push-ups, sit-ups, and a mile-and-a-half run are the challenge, and two hours later, a vast majority of our company has passed. It’s official—we’re Coast Guard recruits. Soon after, we are introduced to our Company Commanders, the people that will guide us toward a successful career in the Coast Guard. In no time, our CC’s are showing us what Basic Training really is, urging us to go faster and be louder, and underneath all of the sweat, tears, and hours of Incentive Training sessions, there is a sense of pride. Because, deep down, we know we’re on our way.


The first full day with company is eventful, starting at a bright and early 0530. We are given almost impossible time objective, told to “double-time” everywhere, and are urged on by our Company Commanders. The experience is new and will take some getting used to, but we know we’ll get it in time. Slowly but steadily, we are taught new marching movement and the correct way to address our CC’s. “Sir’s and “Ma’am”s are no longer allowed. We are given Incentive Training sessions, a far-too-efficient teaching tool that many recruits fear. Someone once said “If you’re going to be dumb, you have to be tough”, and most would probably agree that fits here. We are quickly getting into the “chow, chow, chow, chewy bar” mindset, our motivation coming from the next meal. Our day ends at 2200, and we welcome the command to mount our racks.


We are up before the sun rises, and already we are busy. We must get dressed, brush our teeth, and shave/do our hair all in ten minutes! It may seem impossible now, but soon, ten minutes will probably feel like an eternity to do those things. Today is Sunday, so we are given divine hours, a 5-hour period that we have to ourselves. But this is hardly “free time”. We have to make sure our racks are “squared away”, our boots are shined, and our squad bay is clean. We also have the option to attend Chapel, and with all of that, five hours doesn’t seem like very long at all. After divine hours, we eat afternoon chow, and then our Lead CC deals out jobs to the company. Yeoman, Historians, Watch Coordinators, Squad Leaders, and many more jobs are given to many recruits. Some of us dread the thought of extra duties, but others welcome the challenge. After evening chow and chewy bars, lights out is called and we are soon out with them.


0530 is becoming normal, an average wake-up time in our life. We rise to “Fire fire fire!” and are rushed outside. Incentive Training follows, for what feels like no reason. But we are told that everything here is done for a reason, so we “push the deck” without question. Today is the start of week 02, the first official week of being in company. We start off with a weight-training workout at the gym, and it is finished with no hang-ups. Later, we revisit the Chapel for a Stress Management class. The late afternoon and evening is spent eating and being I.T.-ed. 2200 couldn’t come soon enough!


It is very early and we are up “pushing the deck”. Morning I.T. sessions are a regular thing now, and we are growing used to them. After morning chow, we go to the gym for a core workout. Afterwards, we are in the classroom, reviewing information about Basic Training that we were taught over the weekend. How to march around the regiment, when to “double time”; things like that are taught so that we may be successful during Basic Training. For most of the rest of the day, our pulses pound and our muscles ache, but under the red faces and sweat-soaked brows, we are pleased with our own efforts. Lights out is our reward, and it is welcomed.


0530 greets us with a fire drill one again. 0700 chow is enjoyed, as always. After, we go to the gym for a bike workout. Later, we are in the classroom again, learning rates and ranks, taught by our Lead CC himself. After, one of our Assistant CC’s teaches us how to address personnel, both on the regiment and out in the fleet. These lessons will stay with us throughout our careers, so it’s important that we learn it now. Later, we go to the Armory to pick up our “pieces”, which are non-militarized firearms. They will help us train until we receive the real thing. Promptly after, we are taught how to I.T. with the piece, and told to do it! It’s intense, painful, and slightly unnerving, but we are strong. We can do this!


A routine has been established, for pre-sunrise I.T. and fire drills are not only expected, but almost automatic. Morning chow, and then off to the gym again. We are tested on our ability to swim and tread water. The company is not without hardships and failures, but this is not a deal-breaker. The shipmates that failed are still in company, but they are made to rise earlier in the morning to attend Remedial Swim, which will give them the chance to improve. Later, our Lead CC teaches us how to salute. He teaches us proper form and who to salute to, key factors when rendering the iconic gesture. The rest of the day is spent as per usual, eating and I.T. The food is great and the I.T. is tough, but the experience is one-in-a-million. The Sierra-189 squad bay settles in at 2200, and sleep is immediate.


This morning, we wake up, go to chow, and then we return to the gym. Today’s workout is a swim circuit. Later, we are taught how to stand watch, which is broken in for the first time that night. This is the beginning of feeling like an actual member of the Coast Guard, minimal sleep, alertness, and all. We both dread and anticipate the feeling with lights go out at 2200.


Today is Saturday, but it’s not the weekend here at Cape May. We are up at 0530; I.T., getting dressed, shaving, and doing hair all done before 0630. At 0930, we meet our Company Mentors, members of the MSST Unit in King’s Bay, Georgia. We spend two hours learning about their careers and asking them questions about the future of ours. They are helpful and knowledgeable, which we are grateful for. Later in the afternoon, our Lead CC surprises us with a Company bike workout. During today’s I.T. sessions, we are tested on our required knowledge. We are mostly correct, but we still have a long way to go. In the late evening, we are told to clean the squad bays. At 2200, lights are out and the watch is about. Good night, shipmates!
To sum it up, our first twelve days at Cape May have been interesting, to say the least. We have been yelled at, ran, I.T.-ed, and worked out to the point of collapse. But as our Lead CC always says, “It’s going to get worse before it gets better.” We strive to be better, to work together, and to become a Company the Coast Guard can be proud of. We are Sierra-189, a group of now 48 that is capable of great things. All of the things that happened in the past twelve days have been overwhelming—it’s a lot to take in. But we are Coast Guard Recruits, and so we are Semper Paratus. Always ready for the next challenge.


Sunday morning greets us at 0600, which almost seems like sleeping in. Our morning routine is repeated, and before we know it, we are stepping off for chow. Afterwards, we are once again given divine hours. Every Sunday, the mission is the same—to organize our racks, shine our boots, and iron our uniforms.. Most of this is achieved, and we are beginning to manage our time a bit better. However, a rack inspection after proved we still have much to learn. The rest of the day is spent I.T.-ing and going to the galley to refuel for more I.T.-ing. It’s a lot, but it’s 110% worth it. Lights out at 2200, although the Yeoman’, Historians’, and Watch Standers’ days are far from over. Good night, shipmates, and Semper Paratus!

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.