BRAVO 194 Recruit Journal Week 5


Bravo 194 Recruit Journal

Formed: January 31, 2017

Graduates: March 24, 2017

It’s the end of our fifth week at Cape May, and it has felt more like a rite of passage than any other week- in terms of our seniority, our level of physical fitness, our stamina, and our growth. But we are not there just yet. The progress we’ve made has been in the directions mandated by our company commanders- orders to move quickly, get loud, and perform with precision, always following directions to the T. What rips us apart now is the feelings of anger and disgust toward other shipmates when they make mistakes. I am reminded of the saying, ” give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day; teach a man to fish and he’ll eat for a lifetime”. We can be angry at the shipmate, make them feel isolated, and make them remember how to avoid a simple mistake. Or we can be gracious to our shipmates, give them a hand up, and help them grow in the areas in which they are struggling. But we’re still in a stressful environment, and it’s turning us into a pool of piranhas or rather, we’re doing that to ourselves. I am nonetheless excited by the progress we’ve made. In particular, Bravo is visibly faster than last week. Since Monday, we have woken up at 0530, with fifth teen minutes to be dressed, shaven, ready for the day, and the whole company marched to morning chow with muster complete. It’s difficult to concentrate on the march to the galley- a number of things are happening at the same time. The marching squad leader in on the port side calling cadence at the same time the yeoman is on the starboard side, calling out the morning attendance roster. If that isn’t enough, the darkness makes marching disorienting and everyone is mentally reviewing the plan-of-the-week information for the given day, bringing the mental juggling routine to 04 different tasks over the course of 05 minutes. By Wednesday, everyone in the company was used to this, as if they’d been doing it for years.

In between this tight schedule and various flavors of intensive training that focused on doing things as quickly as possible- most notably, the dreaded change from running shoes to tactical boots really fast a million times exercise. The change in our ability to move like every second counts, as if our lives are depending on us, has been tremendous.

Classes have helped with this too. Tuesdays practical on personal floatation devices is one of Bravo’s top favorite classes taken. It was a chance for us to briefly break our military bearing and cheer on our shipmates as we competed for the fastest time to don a lifejacket.

Our dress uniforms were issued to us on Tuesday. We have yet to wear them as the uniform of the day, as were still receiving practical instruction on how to wear them properly.(Yes- wearing a uniform to military standard actually requires instructions!)The glass finish on our company commanders dress shoes makes us envious; fortunately, on days we have been on good behavior, we have been granted the privilege of 20-25 minutes to polish them.

In light of two things the future holds for us-search and rescue cases, and cross-country moves for many-our classes focused on both. We learned about radio communications and the operations of small boat crews, the latter of which was taught by a weathered but well-mannered lieutenant in the Coast Guard Auxillary, our uniformed(not armed) volunteer attachment, which focuses primarily on recreational boating. We were also briefed by our company yeoman on travel entitlements, and class instruction wrapped up with two parts of history that illuminated for us just how much of a maritime swiss army knife the Coast Guard really Is. Example: over the 227 years of the Coast Guards existence in some form, we have merged into one service from five other- The Lighthouse Service, The Revenue Cutter Service, The Steamboat Inspection Service, The Lifesaving Service, and the Bureau of Navigation.

Perhaps our most embarrassing failure yesterday was losing the privilege of going to the obstacle course, due to issues with racks being left unsecured- a testament to the room we still have for improving our cohesion as a team, as well as the level to which we don’t respect our company commanders.(we do respect them-just not enough, it seems.) On the other hand, the week wrapped up with another visit from our company mentors Captain Passarelli and Senior chief Bolen of the Coast Guard Cutter Waesche. It’s a great privilege to have two members of the fleet come in and talk to us about their experiences. Senior Chief Bolen, as an enlisted member, also passed through Cape May, and knows what the experience is like.

But our focus with our mentors yesterday wasn’t on surviving our training. It was on everything that will happen after basic training. We are three weeks away from being fleet ready. The home stretch is here, and we are hungry for it, pleasure and pain alike.


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.