Bravo 191 Recruit Journal Week 02




Bravo 191 Recruit Journal

Formed: March 17, 2015

Graduates: May 8, 2015



BRAVO – 191


On Friday, March 20, 2015, approximately 90 fresh-faced recruits of what would become Recruit Company Bravo-191 sat with growing trepidation in the silence of a classroom. We were about to meet our three company commanders for the first time. We had been briefed that boot camp, which had lasted all of two full days at that point, was about to become a whole lot harder. Finally, they entered the room. Three stoic men, each cutting an imposing figure with their iconic “Smokey Bear” hats, stood before us. We had learned their names before hand, but we were about to learn a whole lot more about them.

Our lead company commander, Chief Hollenbeck, is a no-nonsense individual. He will take the time to explain concepts and teach us the skills we need, but has little tolerance for sandbaggers. Part Jekyll and part Hyde, he can go from a calm, even funny, relatively normal human to a raging, intimidating tour-de-force with the flick of a switch.

Chief Ingram, an assistant company commander, is a watchdog. He has an uncanny knack for seeing everything everyone does wrong, and is not afraid to point it out.

Our other assistant company commander, Petty Officer Loeffler, and is, in Chief Hollenbeck’s own words, our “worst freakin’ nightmare.” He is like a hungry shark searching for prey. He has already dispensed with hundreds of push-ups, squats, and other much more creative forms of punishment for our boot camp sins.

The Helmsman, our recruit pocket guide that we each received before arriving at Cape May, told us to expect company formation weekend to be the most stressful part of boot camp. Whoever wrote that either deserves a swift kick in the shins for being a liar, or has never endured the rest of week 02 in Chief Hollenbeck’s company. With each passing day, the intensity has grown, and the stress along with it. Every new concept we learn brings with it just one more opportunity to screw something up. Many recruits have difficulty adjusting to a completely new way of behaving.

Our feet ache from marching, our shoulders and backs ache from “incentive training” (namely, physical punishment to “incentivize” us to not do whatever dumb thing it is that we just did), and our minds ache from lack of sleep from a constant barrage of new information. And, for some of us most of all, our hearts ache due to a longing for our family and friends. Though we often feel defeated, it is not all negative. We see things, such as the cutter moored in Cape May Harbor, hear the stories of legendary lifesavers, and learn about the proud history of our service. It is then that we remember why we are here, and we are proud to wear the uniform of the U.S. Coast Guard.

But before we can realize our dreams, we have to prove ourselves first. Though we have started to move, talk, and look like members of the Coast Guard, we still have a long way to go. With week 02 down, only time will tell what delightful adventures lay in store for us in the coming weeks.



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.