Bravo 194 Recruit Journal Week 07

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Bravo 194 Recruit Journal

Formed: January 31, 2017

Graduates: March 24, 2017                                                           

 

For Bravo 194 Graduation Program:  http://www.forcecom.uscg.mil/Portals/3/Documents/TCCM/Documents/Graduation/Graduation%20Program.pdf

 

Week 07 flew by faster than any other so far, and was marked by two significant changes in our routines. First, Bravo isn’t getting beaten (inventively trained) except when necessary. Instead, we’ve woken up at 0500 in pursuit of 10,800,000 pounds lifted, equivalent to a national security cutter like the USCGC Waesche.

 

If you ever want a hell of a workout, switch from abs to biceps, biceps to crunches, crunches to squats, squats to dips and back again on weight machines. Then get on a bike for an hour. Then do as many push-ups, pull-ups, and sit-ups as you can bust out in 06 minutes. Finish off with floppy stretches as your muscles wiggle, jiggle, and spasm in defeat, and endorphins pump through you at the same time as you look up at the ceiling and reel in the not-enough-sleep centrifuge.

 

Maybe I don’t speak for every shipmate in the company, but despite the pain, I’ve much preferred the Waesche challenge over shouting in front of Healy Hall and waving a demilitarized M16 around like a whacko.

 

It goes without saying that we were interested to know how much weight we’d lost after that whole ordeal, and anyway, our command needed to measure us at this point to verify that everyone in the company complies with weight standards. This was stressful for the recruits who were right on the edge, but everyone passed. Several recruits had even lost a significant amount!

 

That same day – a Monday – we took our class on first aid and CPR, which was followed by a practical in the gym. Those CPR dolls are the weirdest things in terms of the emotions they evoke; they’re tools for practicing a technique that can save a life somewhere down the road, but they’re also really scary-looking. Stress and compassion are a strange mix of feelings to experience with being weirded out as you call for imaginary help, then focus on repeatedly pressing two fingers down on a rubber-and-plastic baby-looking thing.

 

Having averaged a 92% on the final today, we earned our penultimate pennant on the Bravo flag for academics. The last company to earn all of the pennants was VICTOR-193, so Bravo’s hopes are high at earning the Coast Guardsman’s Pennant near the end of our training. This was preceded by turning in our dreaded pieces to Goff Hall (!), and a day of much-needed off-base liberty.

 

In the bigger picture, Bravo still struggles from a behavioral standpoint with the fact that we’re about to disband. It’s such an easy thing to lose sight of where we are right now, and instead to feel like we’re already past the finish line. As a result, sometimes we have problems flipping the switch between focused and relaxed, as well as with the boundary between relaxed and too relaxed.

 

Indeed, this week has been worlds less stressful than every other week so far, but there’s a reason for it which is unique to the Coast Guard. It’s the fact that we deal with the general public on a scale that is uncommon for a branch of the armed services. This week and next, though less shouty and mind-numbing, are still a part of basic training. But the focus is now shifting away from the Pavlovian, do-as-you’re-told-without-question element, and toward representing the Coast Guard as both a military member and a human being. And with that said, I can’t believe how far we’ve come. We are in a transition phase between being recruits and Coast Guardsmen, and the transition isn’t happening after graduation. It’s happening right here and now at Cape May, under the instruction of our Company Commanders. I’m tempted to go so far as to even call it mentorship. My mind runs back to Chief Bennett in main muster with all the racks rolled to the stern of the squad bay, ironing one of his operational dress uniforms and showing us – without compromising his diaphragm speech – how to properly roll the sleeves. It runs back to every time Chief Reid has pulled from her own experiences to illustrate the consequences of our actions when we go into the fleet, explaining it to us in her signature tone of gravelly and warbly – a voice that is wise beyond its years, quietly reminding us, “people are stupid, but you don’t have to be”. It runs me back to Petty Officer Turner punishing the company with the hawser lines, bordering on torturing us and hyping us up as she screams, “I CAN’T HEAR YOU, BRAVOOO!” to our “AYE-AYE, PETTY OFFICER TURNER!” And it runs me back to Petty Officer Uitdenhowen doing, well… everything that Petty Officer Uitdenhowen does.

 

The strength we have found over these 07 weeks has been something I always knew I had in me. But it took an environment that demanded we pull it out of ourselves, scrutinize it, embrace it, and feed it before we were able to do what we thought was near impossible. There is a lion in every heart that comes to recruit training, whether a recruit realizes it or not. Cape May’s mission, in a nutshell, is to bring that lion out in us and mix it with the practical training that makes the Coast Guard the Coast Guard.

 

So, have we fulfilled this mission? Not just yet. But we’re dang close, Bravo.

 

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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