Alfa 190 Recruit Journal Week 07


Alfa 190 Recruit Journal

Formed: June 24, 2014

Graduates: August 15, 2014


03August14, Monday, “We Are A Rollercoaster”

We are a living, breathing roller coaster. After what seemed to be a crowning moment yesterday, we slid again, as we do after crowning moments. Three more of us were reverted today. One, in particular was a shock to our system and particularly unfortunate. This recruit was never in trouble, had a huge heart and tried harder than the large majority of the company does. One night late to watch and he was gone, much to the discontent of our own Lead Company Commander (he hated losing a good recruit). Nobody was happy to see him go, but it has become merciless. We don’t have room for errors anymore, especially on watch. This career, as it so happens, is also a merciless one. The fleet is coming up in our immediate future and we will not get away with mistakes of that caliber. But it should be said that this recruits dedication and positive spirit will remain with us until we graduate, and we all wish him the best of luck.

Anyway, we are not consistent. Every time we take steps up the metaphorical ladder well, we end up falling over onto our backs and stumbling back down it again. It’s almost as if we are hung over after good days; why? It’s hard to say exactly why, but today ended with a lot of hardcore discipline and a count of 89 left.

Today, most of us helped behind the scenes of the sunset parade, so we saw the same parade we had already participated in from the other side! Those of us who weren’t there spent the evening helping build a BMX track for Master Chief Berry’s family. It was difficult not to feel a sense of shovel-induced accomplishment when the youngsters tested it out with their bikes. Again, Alfa is proving a more consistent dig and build crew than we are a company. The frustration boiled over in the evening, and Chief Arseneaux let the no goodniks know they were acting a fool. What a way to start week 07. Consistency, come forth!

SR “I’ve got the Tropical Blues Blues” Kristofferson

04August14, Tuesday, “A Victory, And Line Pulling”

We woke this morning knowing we had a 5K run ahead of us, in honor and celebration of “Coast Guard Day” (The Coast Guard’s birthday is 04August1790). There was a perk/prize announced for any recruit who could win the 5k against the numerous outside competitors, some who had won almost every time before. We are happy to announce that an Alfa scored the number one spot! Congratulations to our 5K champion, SR Kettleson! The rest of us, snails by comparison to our secret weapon of a runner, still scored respectable times. The Company victory, however, came from our fastest, who scored first and third place.

Reeling from that triumph, we took First Aid and Cardio pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) class with Avionics Electrical Technician First Class Bowe. We learned the basics of dressing wounds on different parts of the body, including lost limbs. The instructor, whilst teaching these methods, gave us many stories about his own experiences with CPR working in the fleet and in his civilian life (which included a rather unsettling story involving horror film-like description). What he told us at the end of class, however, was what stuck. Our final exam marches toward us like a dark, menacing army that looms toward us in much better cadence than we can muster up. He warned us to study hard, as twelve people in the last company failed it. So long as we stay sharp, we will hang tough and be just fine!

The afternoon and evening saw our company divided into three sub groups. One group continued work on Master Chief Berry’s track, ten of us cleaned the M16s of the entire company, and the other less lucky Alfas spent hours sweating pulling lines for their transgressions of the day. Our loss count now creeps up on 40, and we have inspections and a final to get through. Week 07 has presented its challenges, with no bluffs. Will we meet them with poise, confidence and courage? Or will we take a smack-to-the-face beating back into week 03? March forward, march carefully, in the present moment.

SR “Iron Supplier” Kristofferson

Quote of the Day—“This Ain’t Friggin Choir, man!”


05August14, Wednesday, “Surprises, Surprises”

Today, it can actually be said that the day was “a good ‘un” despite a few curve balls winged in our direction. The biggest curve ball was a stealth assassin-like switcheroo of our schedule that had Petty Officer Ventura giving us our Seamanship Final Exam suddenly and unexpectedly. We were blindsided! Unfortunately, a large chunk of us did not do so well, so the Seamanship pennant may not fly on our guide on flag any time soon. For the most part, however, we had a great, enjoyable Line Heaving practical on the mock ship outside. Seamanship, overall, has been a great experience with an entertaining instructor and fantastic new material to learn. Granted, it was nap time for some of us, but the rest of us are eager to learn more as we move forward.

Our swim today, as always, was a great tension relief. A much needed one at that, as we had our “Tropical Blue” (dress) uniform inspections today. The nerves were shot s we flailed to de-thread and unwrinkled our paper thin shirts on time. It ended up fine in the end, other than the many with incorrect sizes (a lot of us have lost considerable weight over our time here due to the active lifestyle we currently follow).

It was good to have a day that ended on a positive note. Alfa had a rough morning but came together for the building cleanup. It seems too good to be real. However, we did lose three more today, but that is par for the course at this stage of the game. Our count is now 86. Week 07 moves forward at a staggeringly quick pace, and we are ready—-well, we at least acknowledge the busy days ahead, and our final exam!

On another note, it has been decided that our larger than life Company Commanders have “comic book/action film” superhero/villain roles, and they are as follows.

Chief Arseneaux is “The Enforcer”—Because you will follow his rules, and if you don’t, you will pay. No caving. Steel cut discipline, unflinching principles, and brutal, brutal circuit training. His leadership and his fleet are important to him, and he will eject you if you do not belong. The importance of an effective company are what drive the beast. He will destroy you with fitness, so obey the laws.

Senior Chief Elliott is “The Killer”—You will suffer hours of incentive training involving M16s and line pulling before he blinks. Stoic and ruthless, he is the Company Commander recruits dread to hear the words “you owe me time” from. Senior Chief is a master of ice cold tracker dealing, frightening attention to detail, and lots of line.

Chief Gallego is “The Wise Guy”—Testing and evaporating your weak military bearing with powerful jokes and quips, he also has no patience for your stupid stories. Mob boss wit, no bull$$$$, just keep it simple. You will fall victim to the attacks on military bearing, and it will corrode away. Don’t laugh, or else!

Petty Officer Karpf is “The Wild Card”—You never know which version of him will show itself. One minute he will be cracking jokes about recruits searching under their racks for monsters, and the next he will maniacally fire off required knowledge bullets and decimate you with “IT bombs”. Unpredictable and uncontained!

Petty Officer Haro is “The Ninja”—Suddenly, he appears in your squad bay. The next minute, he is suddenly in the gym locker room shouting from nowhere. In magic ninja-like fashion, you are suddenly caught talking and you have no idea where he came from. Then, poof! In a cloud of ninja smoke he vanishes. And you have a tracker.

SR “Talks too much, shut up” Kristofferson

Quotes of the day: “You a Patrick Swayze fan, Dalton? Do you like that movie? Are you the cooler?” and “They’ve got a lot of our rejects. Maybe they will challenge”.


06August14, “A Startling Accomplishment and Other Surprises”

Today, an Alfa miracle happened. We somehow won the Seamanship pennant, a green beacon of success that now flies from our company colors along with the red “blood drive participation” pennant. It is quite a shock because many of us did NOT do well. Luckily for us, we had a few Alfas who did so well on their exams that they skyrocketed our average out of mediocrity. At least enough to get us our second pennant! We also did our line handling practical…some of us take to it much, much better than others do. Whether it is the final exam or other challenges (like getting our travel plans made with too many people and too little time) that distracts us, we aren’t positive. We do know that some of us have started reaching the limit of information retention. Things previously taught did not register (in some cases). Overall, we had a squared away day though. We were louder, prouder and much more of a company today than we have been in a long time. Congratulations to SR Herring for winning the Seamanship Award!

We topped off the night with a debriefing, or question and answer session, with Petty Officer Haro. We learned that he spent a good amount of his career in Kodiak, Alaska, which was great for the Alfas who are headed up there! He gave us fantastic insight into the career paths of aviation; he is an Aviation Maintenance Technician who loves the path he has walked, despite the injuries. The Alfas who aspire to enter the Aviation side of the Coast Guard got to hear stories, advice, and even a joke here and there. It was a welcome change of pace, and exciting to see the “other side”. It may have been a short time, but it was a new way to see one of our Company Commanders. We got to learn a little bit about the Coast Guardsman behind the trainer, and it was awesome.

Side note: He broke his toe during Company Commander Training, and persevered. He also hates boats and loves to fly, so he will likely be the go to for our aspiring aviators (which make up a decent chunk of us).

Week 07 is rock a locking forward at break neck speed. Strangely enough, we may miss this if it ends as quickly as it is going now.

SR “Brain Dehydrated” Kristofferson

Quotes of The Day—“You people don’t know whether to sit or stand up to piss”, “woof woof!” and “I have a coffee mug that says aviation is better”.


07August14—“It All Comes Down To…”

Today, the big surprise in our week of surprises was our debrief with Senior Chief Elliott. Arguably one of the harshest if not the harshest Company Commander, Senior Chief Elliott has remained ever stoic and ever strict. Today, that was dropped for a little while and we were able to ask him all sorts of questions. He was extremely funny, and remarkably patient with our bombardment of childish questions and statements. It was a departure from what we were used to, and we all wish him congratulations on making Chief Warrant Officer in June! Brutal as they are, the Company Commanders are, in fact, people. People who want to succeed and want their companies to succeed. He spoke with us about some of his time spent in the fleet (including in Haiti), but primarily answered questions about Company Commanders and training. We also may or may not have learned that he and Senior Chief Ashley surf! Not confirmed, but possibly overheard. He knows about a lot about a lot; he fielded tons of questions.

Tomorrow, we have three, count them, THREE finals. Our final exam, our manual of arms final, and our close order drill final. On top of this, we will be participating in Zulu 189’s graduation ceremony. In a week, we will hopefully be standing in their shining (mostly) triumphant shoes. So long as we don’t stumble on seagull excrement, a banana peel or sweat from our frantic dash to get our uniforms fixed at the finish line, we will survive.

We stand now, on the very edge of a steep, moss laden cliff of rock. Beneath us, ahead of us, above us, we cannot see. Our toes reach the damp, jagged edge as the clouds of uncertainty slowly surround us. This moment is our final test. Does it scare us, shake us into turning back? Or do we leap forward, having faith that there will be waters to catch us if we dive forward? It is, without a doubt, “go time”. Symbolically it all boils down to our flag as it sits beside us on this cliff of doubt, of anxiety, of fear. Leap from it Alfa! Be brave! *Don’t actually jump off of anything. Seriously, it’s a metaphor. I feel like some of us may find the highest ledge and jump if I didn’t clarify this.

We also completely banana bat s*** suck at open and closed rank marching. Luck be an Alfa tomorrow. Luck let us pass, and maybe win another pennant? We need miracles in a bottle.


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.