Golf 193 Recruit Journal Week 02

International Maritime Signal Flag Golf

Golf 193 Recruit Journal

Formed: July 26, 2016

Graduates: September 16, 2016

 

Week 02

01AUG16

Monday of week 02 and training is getting very real. 0530 hits and we hear “Fire, Fire, Fire” (which pretty much mean we are about to sweat our behinds off). But you know what? People pay big bucks for these so called “boot camp” classes. Yeah…… well try doing these exercises with 4 beefy Company Commander screaming in your face. Look on the bright side; We are [hopefully] getting in shape while being trained to serve in the world’s greatest Coast Guard.

That being said, it has not been easy thus far, and it will only get harder. As our Lead Company Commander Petty Officer Karpf said, we are about out there in the big world now amongst the sharks. The sharks are the hundred of CC’s on base that are just waiting to destroy all the minnows.

Beside recruit training officially starting today, THE JUICE AND SALAD BAR ARE NOW OPEN TO GOLF-193!! So everyone was naturally pumped about that. Felt good to finally eat yogurt and granola for breakfast rather than eggs, potatoes, and bacon. Nothing against those foods…… sometimes they just aren’t the greatest before a day of fun-filled recruit activities. Honestly though, the food at the galley is pretty delicious, and they always have a wide range of things. Also, the women that work there are sweethearts. A-193 (graduated last Friday) said to us the other morning before we met our Company Commanders “Even angels are in Hell” and they definitely were not kidding.

Recruit training is a culmination of hands-on stuff, classroom learning, and sweating….. Lots and Lots of SWEATING. It seems like we could make our rack in the morning and all of the company will come out drenched from it. It’s probably because we know there are sharks swimming right outside our squad bay. The sweat is deserved in a class like this morning’s. Circuit training which was taught by Mr. Schena in the gym will definitely get your blood flowing. He may be a little older but he still knows how to beat you. We have that for the rest of the week and he said he is going to make the workouts longer and longer, so that will be good for the people on the cusp of making weight.

To this point, which is only week01 weeks, recruit training is what myself and a decent amount of my shipmates expected it to be. We all signed up for this, and come week 0 all of us will be extremely proud. The Company commanders are intimidating, but if you think about their job and their goals, it all makes sense. They will push us and push us until we think there is nothing left inside. But there is. There is a lot more, tonight we are doing evolutions where Petty Officer Bennett and Petty Officer Martinez had all recruits of G-193 change from our PT gear to our Operational Dress Uniform in 120 seconds. Needless to say, we all failed miserably. But the point of the exercise really stuck with me. Petty Officer Bennett kept saying things along the line of “There are people out there drowning” or “The drug smugglers are getting away”. In a situation like that, there is absolutely no time to waste. It is something like that, that recruit training is all about. It is difficult because out in the fleet there is no room for error in high-stress situations. So if you think about it that way recruits should understand the stress that is put on each and every one of us for 08 weeks. The next week will challenge us more and more, but in the end, we will come out as the newest, proudest members of the United States Coast Guard.

 

02AUG16

 

“Fire, Fire, Fire” To most people that means “Get out now, the building is burning”, but to U. S. Coast Guard Recruits here at TRACEN Cape May, it means get your ass outside because it’s time to get beat. That is exactly how we were woken up this morning. We have 60 seconds from the awakening of our slumber at 0530 by what seems like the worlds loudest whistle, to get outside and start a circuit of push-ups, crunches, squats, and flutter kicks while screaming our reps at the top of our lungs while being yelled at by Company Commanders. Nothing awakens a sleepy body like a good sweat session.

We did get to go to the gym today and work out with Mr. Schena, one of the physical fitness instructors. Going to the gym is almost relaxing (which should explain how intense boot camp is). I take all the workouts and incentive training sessions as stress relieving. Even though they are hard and they are absolutely exhausting, it feels good to move around outside of a marching formation. The most important thing or so I have learned is to understand that the sweat sessions and the structured workouts are making us into the men and woman our country needs. We had only two incentive training sessions today, which was nice. I feel like our company is maybe starting to grasp the structure and the expectations of boot camp. By no means are we even a little close to being ready to graduate, but a new tone was set today; a tone that gave me shipmates and I hope that Golf-193 might be able to meet our time objectives at the level of quality out Company Commanders expect. After evening chow Petty Officer Karpf did not make us hold our hands 03 inches above our heads while marching to our home from the galley because our company, for the most part, moved quickly through the chow line. We hold our hands over our heads when a shipmate forgets their hat, or cover as we call it, and it gets exhausting fast. That was the moment that gave us a spark of hope and pride to be part of Golf-193.

Father Brown, one of the Chaplains came to our house tonight to bring us some current events, jokes, new movie charts and basically to connect us as much as possible to the outside world. Since recruits turn in their cell phones to Company Commanders the first night of boot camp, we haven’t been in connection with anyone outside of our company. Honestly though, it’s kind of been nice to disconnect and really focus on myself for the past week. I did realize that tonight was the first time I laughed in a week (Father Brown’s corny jokes were the sunshine of my day). The hours spent with us was the most relaxed our company has been. It was nice to be able to listen to someone talk to us and not scream. Everyone looked a lot less stressed after our time spent with Father Brown. It changed the feel of the company and I can only hope that we are able to take that and run with it (literally and metaphorically) to make us proud to be graduates of Golf-193 in 06 weeks.

It’s very easy to lose perspective. It’s very easy to want to quit, to cry, to give in, to get frustrated, and to let the stress of the environment get the best of you. It’s so important to remember why we are here. We all come from different states, backgrounds, and cultures. But we all have the desire to serve our country. Some of us are continuing the generations of men and women in their families serving, some are serving for the first time, others are prior service. We all worked hard to be here and we have to work even harder to stay here. I’ve heard Company Commanders say over and over that only the individuals who meet or exceed every single expectation get to graduate and go out to the fleet. Every single thing we do, every single movement of every second of every day is being watched. Nothing is hidden; our Company Commanders know everything. They know exactly how to transform us from civilians to a Coast Guardsman. It is so easy to lose perspective of that. The stress we endure here is induced to prepare us for the stress we will endure out in the fleet. The short time objectives is to get us trained to move quickly and think quickly to be able to respond effectively during a rescue. Keeping the right attitude and learning self discipline is not easy, but we are here to serve our country and Golf-193 is on the way to being the freshest most qualified individuals to graduate from Training Center Cape May.

 

03AUG16

 

Well today seemed a bit longer than the other days. The Company Commanders don’t see it, but each respective squad bay is starting to work together. It’s going to take a while for a company of nearly 100 to come together collectively and work out any knots in our system. And until then, people will A.) gain hulk shoulders, or B.) not be able to use their shoulders. There is a lot of holding things above our heads and out in front of us. On another note, we had out first spin class this morning with Mr. Schena. I could have sworn spin class was a soccer mom thing but it was hard! By the end, when all recruits were on the highest level, I felt like my legs were going to fall off. It was good to get out legs loose though and Mr. Schena said spin will help improve run times, for those recruits that struggle with running. This initial phase of transitioning from civilian to military member is not an easy thing. But it shouldn’t be, the job of a Coast Guardsman is not an everyday sit in a cubicle type gig. We are here to help others. Petty Officer Howell said today that if you are in this just for the schooling assistance them you may be in it for the wrong reasons. I agree with that, as selfish as it may sound. The Coast Guard is a life saving service and that should be the sole reason why people joined. I do think a lot of recruits joined for the right reason though; it seems like a lot of these people, ranging in age from 18-29, have their head on the right shoulders (if they have shoulders left).

Tomorrow is a big day for many of us; we have the swim assessment. I’m excited to swim, but others aren’t. A good thing about this branch of service is that they strive to help recruits succeed. So if someone were not to pass the assessment tomorrow, that recruit could take remedial swim classes every morning so he/she could pass it at a later date. Another example of helping applies to me as well. One of the first days we were here an Athletic Trainer had us squat with a bar over our head. Many of us did not know what this was for, but a couple days later some recruits were handed an “Injury Prevention” form. My knees, for example, are abducted, so in the morning at this class the trainer teaches me some stretched to make sure I don’t get hurt while I’m here. They really look out for us.

On a really, really exciting note, our Company Commanders gave us our first mail time in training. All recruits were excited fir this, as they all were patiently awaiting mail from friends and family. I was shocked at how many letters were addressed to “Any Recruit”. It was pretty cool to open up an encouraging letter from a random person out there. To whoever wrote those random ones, thank you from the very bottom of our hearts. My shipmates and I really appreciate that. Also, exciting, we got “pieces” this afternoon which is a demilitarized gun. It’s basically for training purposes, and by that I think I mean IT (Incentive Training)…. Fun Stuff. Still cool that we got to march in formation holding what was once a firing gun.

A day filled with sweat comes to a close, and Wednesday of week 02 is officially over. Time to hit the rack and get some shut eye before “Fire, Fire, Fire”.

 

04AUG16

 

This place is no joke and anyone who things it is should just get out now. I can’t even tell anymore it everything is getting easier, I’m getting stronger, or I’m actually starting to gain self-discipline (a word that is used about every 30 seconds here). Every day I notice our company improving slowly. Today we did a lot of marching, which sounds pretty simple, but trying to get 100 people transitioning from civilian to Coast Guardsman to march together has proven to be a difficult task. Slowly we are improving….. slowly.

We had out swim assessment today which was the first time we were in the pool since we arrived. Some passed, some did not. Those who were unable to complete the swim assessment have been assigned to remedial swim and will be required to get up an hour early and have swim lessons with the instructors starting at 0530 Monday morning. Even though every single person here that is not a recruit of a staff member in the galley (god bless their souls) is so tough and so hard on us, it is easy to tell that they truly care and want us to succeed. Remedial swim is just one example. The Coast Guard could just decide that anyone who fails their fitness assessment should just get sent home or reverted, but instead they offer help for people like me.

We had a lot of classes today. Classes, I think, are nice. I enjoy getting away from James Hall which is our home for the next 06 weeks. We had classes on work-wife, interpersonal relationships, suicide prevention, and stress management. The suicide prevention and stress management classes were lead by Father Brown in the chapel. Since Father Brown has spent 20 years in the Navy, he understands military life and the stresses and challenged we are currently facing here at TRACEN Cape May, so he truly is one of the most qualified people to instruct those classes.

We got our butts handed to us multiple times (again) today. I think Petty Officer Howell gets the most pleasure out of watching us sweat; he threatens to beat us (not physically mind you) about every 10 minutes. We now have our pieces, so we get to hold those up and sweat too. My least favorite beating is holding up our Coast Guard manual and reading/screaming the “Self-Discipline” paragraph on page 200. That little book gets so heavy very quickly when holding it from the top and out in front of you with your arms parallel to the deck and elbows fully extended. I understand why we do it, but it’s still not fun. By focusing on something other than how much it hurts or trying to scream when you have no voice it makes time go by faster and allows me to put in perspective that it is an absolute horror to be here.

Because we, Golf-193, have successfully made it though all the paperwork and ,medical processing to be here in basic training, I know that we forget or don’t think about all of those who can’t serve for one reason or another, but would do anything to join if given the option. It is an honor to be here and it will be an honor to serve. Focus and learn self-discipline…. That is how to survive. “If you follow orders, you will survive”

 

05AUG16

It seemed like a really long day at TRACEN Cape May, but it is finally time to hit the rack for the night. Everyone is super tired from all the swim circuits we did today, as they were a killer workout. Back and forth for an hour gets your heart pumping, and it was awesome to see some of my shipmates (who thought they could do it) come out on top to succeed, that’s what boot camp is about. Pushing yourself past your regular comfort level is not an easy feat which is why the Company Commanders have to push us hard in a small 08 week window.

But here we are… Friday of week 02. None of us can tell if time is flying our going by way to slow. At this point, it’s kind of hard to tell because we are still in this serious adjustment phase. There are certainly times that I feel overwhelmed with emotions, but successfully balancing them feels good. We miss our family, friends, and significant others but we know they are home cheering us on. I am not super religious, but I have to leave this one in God’s hands. Speaking of God, in my squad bay is a very religious southern shipmate who leads us in prayer every night. It’s an awesome way to close out a hectic, high-strung day. In a sense, it gives recruits something to grasp onto to get through tough times. Training has not been easy for anyone, but we are going to look back on it and be forever proud.

I know I’ve mentioned it before, but teamwork plays the biggest role in the success of training here. Although 96 strangers have not perfected it, golf-193 is beginning to work together. If we have a time objective (that we still probably won’t make), teamwork is seen. If someone needs their boondockers square-knotted while they finish getting dressed, it’s happening. Teamwork gives everyone a sense of hope, maybe Bravo-193’s graduating today uplifted our spirits too. For me, it made me sad that they got to go home with their family. But like anything in life, you have to put your time in.

A big aspect of training here, and really training anywhere, is that you must learn from your mistakes. Performance trackers are used here on base to pretty much tell recruits what they are doing wrong. Any superior to a recruit (you could possible consider a gold fish a superior to us right now) can tell you to write on your tracker. The Company Commanders are not trying to single anyone out when they tell you to write; they are simply telling you in hopes that you don’t continue to perform an action. It’s all part of the training process, and I would like to think the Golf-193 is starting to come together as a company. We have learned a lot about each other already, even in the 10 days we have been here. Every single person in the company has a very different story and background, making it that much harder to figure out what works between us. The challenge will eventually be overcome in the later weeks, but until then we just have to keep looking on the bright side of things. Not that it maters here at boot camp, but TGIF!

 

06AUG16

A wave of the flu has officially hit TRACEN Cape May and it has infected our company. After the typical “Fire, Fire, Fire” wake up (while our friends back home are sleeping in real beds waking up to the “are you still watching?” screen on the tv from falling asleep to NETFLIX). I literally lost track of how many we got today… Maybe because I was put on so many Flu prevention drugs from medical. Most of the company is currently taking prevention medication. I told myself on day 02 that boot camp would be the most challenging thing I have done (once I graduate of course), but I was wrong. I should have said that boot camp while being sick would be the most difficult thing I have ever done. Sounding off while having no voice, a sore throat, congestion, and a cough that makes me sound like I smoke 03 packs a day while doing push-ups is not the best time I‘ve ever had. I suppose that’s what I get for thinking that I would master the “Fire, Fire, Fire” sweat sessions.

Petty Officer Karpf, our Lead Company Commander, was with us in the morning today. On our way to breakfast (morning chow), he spent some time cleaning up our marching. He describes himself as “firm but fair” and I’ve noticed that it’s pretty dang accurate. When we do something right/well/on time (which right now is almost never), we son’t get punished. When we screw up (which seems like always) we pay the price for our mistakes. Now that we are getting used to the screaming and constant degrading, I think we are able to focus more on what out Company Commanders are saying and less on “Oh my god someone is 01 inch from my face screaming at me because me heels aren’t together” and that is what we need to focus on – the words being said. When Petty Officer Karpf leads us and teaches us, it’s obvious that he cares and that he wants us to succeed. Today when we were marching, he would stop us and show us the proper way to do things so we would stop looking like garbage. There’s just something about the way he speaks when he’s teaching that reflects how much he cares. That’s exactly what we need from our leader. I hope that “Garbage Golf” (the name our Company Commanders so graciously gave us) can quickly transform into “Graceful Golf”…. We shall see.

Our company had a new breaking moment today. All 98 of us were gathered in the main muster squad bay waiting at the position of attention for our Company Commanders to come and instruct us on our next activity, which we all assumed would be another sweat session. Instead we heard a recording of a real Mayday Call. It sent chills down everyone spine. It was a reminder of why we are here-we are here so we can save lives, to protect our people, and to serve our country. We were instructed to get on the quarterdeck in 45 seconds, normally it takes us 45-55 but after hearing the Mayday Call it took us about 35 seconds. Every second counts. Not long after did we have a sweat session holding our canteens. During this session, Petty Officer Howell gave us a talk/yell on teamwork and pushing each other to accomplish a task instead of working as an individual. A talk like that from the Company Commander with the most intimidating voice is exactly what we needed. I can only hope we can take it to heart and follow through this as a team.

We got to have a couple hours with our mentors today as well. They came and talked to us and answered our questions about anything and everything boot camp and Coast Guard related. It was perfect getting to speak with experienced Coast Guardsman to get some knowledge and inspiration. Days here at boot camp are not easy. They are not supposed to be either. We need the inspiration like that to push us though.

Today’s biggest lesson was teamwork. As individuals, you can do a little but as a team, you can accomplish much more. If one fails, we all fail.

 

 

 

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.

 

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