Alfa 190 Recruit Journal Week 08



Alfa 190 Recruit Journal

Formed: June 24, 2014

Graduates: August 15, 2014



08 13 AUGUST 14, Wednesday—–“The Final Sprint, The Finish Line, and The Horizon”


Here we are. Alfa 190 has reached its final verse. The Alfa song is all but over, and we come to the end of the frenetic Cape May Musical with 84 strong.

We began Week 08 with the William R. Flores physical fitness challenge. This lasted, in pieces, for the entire day on Monday. It began with an hour on the stationary bike with a goal of 900 calories burned in that time, followed by pull ups with a five second dead hang between each one and reaching seventeen pull ups, followed by push ups with a three second hold at the bottom with a goal of over 70, followed by a 100 meter timed swim, followed by a two mile timed run with a goal of eleven minutes and finally three minutes of sit ups with a goal of 128. By the time we as a company finished this absurdly absurd amount of sweating, changing our clothes and sweating again we were already rushing to the buses that were to take us to Atlantic City for a “Military Appreciation” parade. We were given ceremonial rifles and packed into our buses for the long (ish) drive at about the time we were all able to get our dress uniforms on.

The parade went well for the most part; we marched to “Semper Paratus” with the band along the boardwalk as spectators cheered (some maybe a little more wildly than others), and we got ourselves through it without many problems outside of the occasional shouting of the wrong branch of military at us by those who may have consumed one too many. So the parade went just fine. It was the bus rides to and from, however, that really ended up becoming one of the most, if not the most, entertaining journeys of our entire “vacation” here in Cape May. Company Commanders told stories, cracked funny jokes, and shouted in the face of sleeping recruits (in hilarious fashion). At one point on the drive home from the parade, one of the Alfas actually began singing a country song, to the approval of our Company Commanders. It eventually escalated into a company sing along before we were told to lock it up and then the bus broke down. Even with the broken down bus preventing us from returning home until much later than planned, we stood outside in good spirits with our Company Commanders providing advice, insight, and more stories. It was, without a doubt, one of the most fun nights we’ve had and a gigantic leap in camaraderie in our company.

It can also be noted, by the way, that Alfa 190 was granted coffee and dessert in week 08. After the weekend’s two hours of sleep experiment, coffee is lifeblood. It is Holy Water. It is magic in liquid form. Forced metaphors aside, the week began with high, high morale.

Tuesday, we were immediately destroyed by a random pop quiz by Master Chief Berry and Senior Chief Ashley on required knowledge. We as a company were allowed eight failures. We were pretty much knocked down like bowling pins immediately. It may be because Alfa has a lot of people with one foot in the future, but that one foot definitely cost us a pennant. Sure, we only missed out on bragging rights, but we like bragging rights!

Another thing that happened over the weekend and into this week was our “debrief” closing meetings with Petty Officer Karpf, Chief Gallego, and Chief Arseneaux. We finally heard from each and every one of our Company Commanders, whose walks in the Coast Guard are about as different as they all are as people.

We honestly had the greatest group of Company Commanders that anybody could ask for. The diversity of their personalities and careers has been incredibly helpful because people learn in different ways, and each of them had a template for different Alfas to follow, due to their differing careers in the Coast Guard. These debrief meetings and our time in Week 08 has led us to realize that we have been lucky to have this group of strict individuals guiding us.

Wednesday, we had our “Capping Ceremony” with the Commanding Officer of the regiment, Captain Prestidge. Before we traded out or disgusting, smelly blue and yellow rags we’d been wearing as hats for the last seven weeks, Captain Prestidge offered us advice as to how to conduct ourselves in the fleet, and answered questions. Among the many things he gave us, one of them was “The Five Fs” we should remember as we move on in the Coast Guard. They are as follows; remember your faith, love your family, keep up with and improve your fitness, make new friends, and have fun. FAITH, FAMILY, FITNESS, FRIENDS, FUN. It can be said that these simple guidelines will help keep us on the correct path. Once this was done, he told us that we were experiencing our first “graduation ceremony”. “Today”, he told us, “you will wear the cover that all of us wear”. Symbolically he ordered us to place our brand new covers, with the metal Coast Guard emblem on it, and to discard our recruit caps. The Captain raised us upward in that moment. The energy changed in the air around us almost instantaneously as the 84 of us who made it placed our covers on our respective skulls. It was goodbye to lost recruit, and a glimpse of a hello to the fleet.

The final debrief is to be a company debrief with our Battalion Commander, Master Chief Berry. It will be a fantastic change from when he first briefed us before we started. He gave us our briefing before we met our Company Commanders, a moment we all remember vividly. The five of them taking their oath to train us, their faces obscured by their covers as we all sat in barely formed confusion and intimidation as they charged us from the room. This meeting with Master Chief Berry will be the “wrap up” meeting, where he will be speaking to us on the tail end of our time here.

Tomorrow night, we will be having a company pizza party, which will be our last celebration before the graduation ceremony begins. It must be said that now, as the official week comes to a close, we are now floored by how quickly this has gone by. We shoved off of the bus to screams in June, and August is already here. So much has happened between then and now, that it almost makes us nostalgic. Granted, none of us miss some of the remedial training and pulling on lines for hours, but the team building has become something that all of us will no doubt reminisce fondly about; there are not many times in our lives were we will become this delirious without some sort of consequence. Case in point; SR Cornell (one of the female Squad Leaders) sat up in the middle of the night and shouted “EVERYONE TO MAIN MUSTER WITH YOUR PIECES!!!”, and her shipmates shot out of bed to comply with the directions. However, a few seconds later they realized that A) We had turned in our M16s and B) Their Squad Leader was talking in her sleep. Another male shipmate was heard shouting “YES CHIEF GALLEGO! NO CHIEF GALLEGO! AYE AYE, CHIEF GALLEGO!” in his sleep as well. Alfa has gone Koo Koo on many an occasion, and these memories will never leave us.

And so, we are ready to go. Are we, really? This moment is what we have been pushing ourselves toward for the entire 08 weeks we have been here, but there is a stillness amongst the excitement. We realized quickly that this will be the last time in our lives that we will be climbing along the confidence course, that we will be shouting absurd grammatically difficult conversational items at Company Commanders. And with the warmth of having completed this, there is also a nostalgia that already is collectively felt. We are off to the fleet; to stations, to cutters, to schools, to life. And Alfa has been a company of survivors. We have survived, and strode forward (perhaps often a little too quickly and out of step), and we thank our Company Commanders, who have led us to this place. They shouted. They pushed us to our physical brink. They confused us to no end. They tied our boots and shoes into giant piles for us to unravel. But they taught us how to work together. They taught us what we needed to get through this experience. They saved us from reversion (those of us that are here). We are grateful, we are inspired, we are off!

The bridge of thin ice has fallen behind us, and remains for the next company who walks this path behind us. 84 of us are now clear and onto the next challenge. We are now fledgling guardians of the sea; congratulations, Alfa 190! Graduation awaits!!!

SR “You’re so friggin’ weird” Kristofferson

Historian’s Final Note To Those at Home: Thank you all for supporting your Alfa as these weeks have flown by. Your letters directly referring to the log have been wonderful news for them, and believe it or not your encouragement has fueled us. Letters were like treasure found in a desolate jungle pit; we scrambled for them and hung on them. We especially thank you for encouraging us to continue onward, and not to give up; you have been part of our journey and we could not have done it as well without your support.

And on a personal note, thank you for reading, and enjoy your Alfa’s graduation. He/She most definitely fought the good fight to be there Friday and deserves their spot.

Quick statistics:

Rephased in (shipmates we gained from previous companies who were injured) 04

Rephased out 01 (injured and had to recover) reverted in (shipmates who were reverted from an older company to us): 03

reverted out: 35

RAMP (Hardcore discipline with an extreme extreme physical fitness burn 59

Disenroll (big case of the “I Quits”): 8


Farewell, and see you all in the fleet!

Alfa 190 Graduation Program

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.