Alfa 190 Recruit Journal Week 06



Alfa 190 Recruit Journal Week 06

Formed: June 24, 2014

Graduates: August 15, 2014


02Aug14, Saturday, “The Rain Falls, The End is Nigh…Sort Of”

Week 06 came to its official close today. It seemed especially “high stress big consequences” (because it was), but the week ended at a shockingly rapid speed. As it turns out, it is only now that we are starting to see how quickly our time here is sneaking past us. This week we learned firefighting, beat each other senseless with pugil sticks, and spent more time staring at the bulkhead (wall) than any of us are likely proud or willing to admit. Yes, we probably spent a cumulative handful of hours standing still and staring at the wall for disciplinary reasons. The week now closes, however, and we have dropped down into the nineties, (92 of us remain), so we are no longer the “over 100” company.

A big lesson we got from the many demoralizing downs (and uplifting ups that made up for said downs are as follows; complacency is evil, we are not fleet ready, and that we like to dig and lay bricks more than we like M16s. We also love swim class because we get to score two showers on those days. That may sound like no big deal, but even miniscule perks like that get our company in the “green light” setting.

Admittedly, we went a little nutty (for lack of a bigger and better word) last week when we received our orders. Suddenly we whisked ourselves away into the future, and we took a thrashing in the present as a result; the repercussions of our childlike excitement ended up lasting for an entire week! Between shipmates everybody where they are going, not having much time to make our travel plans from Cape May (which made some of us act as if they were never going to leave if they didn’t get a ticket immediately), and the reversion pendulum constantly sweeping past our faces so closely we can feel the edge of its blade, it became a mudslide of a week very quickly. It honestly felt as if we would never get our official colors due to our Alfananigans. We did end on a high note, which will be touched on later. It is nothing short of baffling that the infamous week 06 has already made its curtain call.

We had on base liberty this weekend! By now, many of you have probably received calls from your “Alfa-Pal” telling you where they are headed. But that was completely different from the moment everybody got their cell phones back for a few hours. The looks on the 92 faces when we received our humanity enslaving hand machines was something to snap a photo of. It looked as if we had discovered a rocket ship to another planet. Or made contact with extraterrestrials. Eyes bugged. Hands fidgeted. But we had to be careful. Being in possession of them was a deadly little privilege. Caught taking selfies in uniform or having rude and loud conversations walking around the regiment is an immediate two week reversion. Before giving the phones back to our company commanders at the end of liberty, we were tested. Most of us passed. One shipmate thought he’d be “sly” and take a “tough boy” selfie in his uniform, and it is a certainty that everybody close to him is instructing him to take it down as soon as he is physically able.

Before liberty, however, we had games to play. Our Company Commanders had us set up stations with various “challenge evolutions”, tasking us with different team building drills at every station. The very first one, an improvised jump rope with line that we had to each jump consecutively in a row, we failed at. Miserably. MISERABLY. Somehow, we could not muster the hand/eye/body coordination necessary to jump over a rope. Demoralized completely, and tucking our tails in embarrassment, we were moved along to the next station, which was heaving and pulling lines. We failed less at this, but struggled all the same. Once we hit the running track station, however, we started gaining momentum again. The early mornings off base run (and the pancake breakfast at the firehouse that hosted us) made its presence known with a vengeance. So, by the time we hoisted the rafts above our heads and made our way around the track and toward the beach, we were moving with purpose. The rain came and went as we made our way to the sea, where Chief Arseneaux awaited us on the beach.

He stood in front of us, serious. “Who here has never seen the ocean before?” he asked. A few of us raised our hands, and received a brief applause from their shipmates. The stillness of the grey green sea that barely rolled beneath the misty fog complimented the silence that followed. “It doesn’t seem scary right now, does it Alfa” he asked. “No, Chief Areseneaux”, we responded. “That ocean takes a lot of lives, though doesn’t it, Alfa?” “Yes, Chief Arseneaux”. Then more silence. “Imagine somebody taking that salt water into their mouth, because their ship has gone down”, he growled. “Imagine it getting into their nose, their lungs, as they struggle to survive, as they fight for their lives”. We could not even breathe loudly in response to the stillness that followed. “When you’re out there, it won’t matter if you are a Chief, it won’t matter if you are a Petty Officer, and it won’t matter if you are a non rate! They will look to you to save them! Now a lot of people have left us. If you’re standing here right now, it means you made it this far. We used to have over 120. Now we’re down to 93 (It’s 92 now). And more are going to leave us before our time here is up. At least four of us are going to go by next week. But right now, you’ve made it this far, and I am proud of all of you who did”. How could we respond? We didn’t. His intensity picked up; “past that pier, on that beach, is your flag. Your colors. I want you to run to that flag, Alfa, and when you get there, pick it up, raise it in the air—“the words of inspiration became a blur. Boots hit sand, and the company charged toward the ocean to take up the blue and white symbol of our company; the “Alfa” (diver down) flag was grabbed and raised up as we shouted skyward our Coast Guard ethos, at the week suddenly became a high note week. The wind and misty rain carried “I am a Coast Guardsman! I serve the people of the United States! I will Protect them! I will defend them! I will save them! I am their shield! For them I am Semper Paratus! I live the Coast Guard core values! I am proud to be a Coast Guardsman! We are the United States Coast Guard!” through the clouds as our colors finally stood with us; only now are we officially formed.

Needless to say, we had an amazing liberty after being supercharged by our newfound legitimacy. Granted, we were beaten to death handily by a jump rope minutes before our grandiose flag yelling, but we were motivated all the same. Just call jump rope our kryptonite, or pretend it never happened at all. Much thanks.

So, the week ends in rain, salt and newfound (and real) determination. A week of ups, downs and smacking the flavor out of each other’s mouths with sticks (one shipmate literally sent a mouth guard flying from another’s like a saliva covered hockey puck) ended with an evening of staring into the horizon, and realizing that we rounded a corner today, and this week. As week 07 begins, we realize that we, and our time here, are small drops in the never ending oceans that await us. Humbled and certainly lucky to have come this far, 92 of us step forward to week 07.

SR “Permanent Razor Burn” Kristofferson

*Historian’s note: It may confuse some readers why this journal spells it “Alfa” over “Alpha” in its contents. Here on the regiment, and in our company, we use the spelling of the phonetic alphabet/diver down flag spelling instead of the Greek alphabet spelling. So, it is “Alfa, Bravo” instead of “Alpha, Beta”. Confusing and confounding, no doubt, but this is how we have been told to spell 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.