Papa 194 Recruit Journal Week 04

International Maritime Signal Flag Papa

Papa 194 Recruit Journal

Formed: May 23, 2017

Graduates: July 14, 2017


Nathaniel Hawthorne would be pleased to know the legacy of The Scarlet Letter lives on. This week we had our first round of probations- recruits who aren’t progressing at the pace expected of them as determined by our dear leaders, I mean, the Company Commanders are doomed to wearing a red reflective belt. It is a tool used to encourage recruits to meet or exceed the standards of recruit training. We gained and lost several recruits this week, we welcomed the recruits that were reverted into our company and sought their insight into what our futures will look like. Losing shipmates to reversion into Quebec was a pill. To them we bid fare waters as we set our course without them.

This week was, uh, stressful. Like, a cataclysmic, snowball effect of one thing after another that led to long nights of pulling line, holding said line over our heads, and copious amounts of sweat. These intensive training sessions are often accompanied by sirens, blaring whistles, yelling through bullhorns, and occasionally fast paced music (FYI. Don’t bother putting in requests). Picture Soul Cycle but like, where the bad souls go. I can say Hell right? Yeah, it’s pretty much Hell. Each Company Commander brings their own unique twists to the session and we bring the sweat.

We had a week full of classes: Housing, Pay and Allowances, and Fire Fighting. While the first two felt very “adulty”, the fire fighting class was a reminder that the job we are preparing for is a dangerous one. Attention to detail, as tedious as it may seem in training saves lives once in the fleet.

Sweat, Sweat, Sweat. We can measure our effort/stress in gallons and how many times we had to change our undershirts in one day. We are becoming accustomed to holding canteens over our heads, passing sea bags around, and holding our pieces for extended periods. Once in a blue moon our punishments perfectly fit the crime. A recruit was caught trying to tip-toe past the CC table at chow and instead of pushing she had to continue tip-toeing around from bulkhead to bulkhead humming the Pink Panther theme song. This is obviously not the kind of attention a recruit would want to draw upon themselves. Meanwhile the rest of us, dearly holding on to our military baring, had to strain every facial muscle we had to prevent an eruption of laughter. Later, during the same meal, a shipmate, unsure of his required knowledge sounded remarkably similar to a robot, sometimes nerves can fry your circuits. This poor soul was doomed to speaking/moving like a robot while carrying out tasks the Company Commanders dictated. After reliving the 80’s dance scene he was then told to dismiss the Company from chow. “Get out turd nuggets” in a perfect monotone robot voice was our order. Half of us tried to cover laughter with coughing (Seriously, this will never work) and the rest looked down to battle the incoming smile.

Papa filled out our dream sheets- we essentially requested a location where we’d like to serve until we get orders for A-School. So unless we end up in the queue for Quebec Company we will find life altering news this week. Anticipation is through the roof. Er, the overhead. So, while anxiety is high and we are literally reciting required knowledge in our sleep week 4 ended on a high note with a 2 mile formation run set to the cadence of our Lead Company Commander, Electricians Mate First Class Placencia.

This time next week all of us may not be here but it’s better to sail short that to sail wrong.

-Big Papa Out


Occasionally, when we’re at wits end we can feel our CC’s pulling their punches. As of right now, despite tremendous progress, we’re flat footed, we’re dropping our hands, and our peripherals are being caged in by the swelling. The truth is we haven’t started fighting yet. Right now we’re taking a beating from our coach/sparring partner, EM1 Placencia and his 1-2 punch YM1 Tilton and DC2 Ventura. Placencia, Papa’s Lead Company Commander dictates the pace of the fight, he doesn’t want to unload a flurry of punches, he wants same thing we do. His left hand/jab Placencia is always present keeping us on our toes and never letting us fully catch our breath. Ventura, the cross, is a knockout punch. Even when Placencia clearly telegraphs it there is little we can do to avoid the damage. We have the same goal and when the fight night arrives we know they will be in our corner, until then we’ll be calling in the Iceman and wearing our beatings like the badges of honor they are.

We crawled into a hectic Week 03 with swim survival class, which is wildly appropriate as we are barely able to keep our heads above water as it is. Once in the water we learned to trust our equipment and relax to stay warm and afloat. If anything we were too relaxed, some of us caught a few minutes of much needed ZZZ’s. At chow that day we were granted the privilege of Chocolate milk for sounding off only to find out that chocolate milk crumbles empires and killed Darth Vader (didn’t catch that reference? Ask us about it on 14July17)

Classes are going well, although we are physically and emotionally beat, Papa is enthusiastic to learn. A particularly good part of our week is when EM1 Placencia shares his sea stories with us. Reminders of what’s in store help us refocus and be more intentional with our training. He constantly stresses the importance of the customs and courtesies that we’re struggling to adhere to in bootcamp. While it all feels foreign now we are begging to realize that the degree to which we execute even the most tedious of tasks directly reflects on our integrity. And that’s, like, a big deal.

Incentive training is capitalizing on our sleep deprivation and rampant sickness that is currently making its way through the ranks. Luckily as we come to gather the focus of our instructors becomes less angled at physical punishment and more towards actual training and skill set development. We just embarked on our seamanship classes and while the wind is just beginning to fill our sails we are all excited to see what lies down the course.

In order to prevent one of the 4000 different foot fungi/warts/other nastiness we were issued shower shoes (plain black flip flops) were issued to us. Putting them in the wrong spot has had our instructors repeating Flip Flops to us so much that it feels like an appropriate theme song would be “I’m on a Boat” by the Lonely Island Bros. We got our flippy floppies and this isn’t SeaWorld; this is as real as it gets.

Two huge Land marks: We are no longer the most freshman company on base with the arrival of Quebec and we bid a congratulations and farewell to Kilo Company on Friday. Being a part of that beautiful ceremony helped many of us internalize the amplitude of that moment. We can’t wait.

Lastly, many of us received our Military ID Cards this week. As mundane as a trip to the DMV would have been a few weeks back this trip was no chore at all. In fact it was quite validating. All the blood (only if you count nose bleeds), sweat, and tears are keeping us on track in pursuit completing our Coast Guard dreams. Seeing our cards for the first time was a good moment, it made everything we’ve been doing feel more real. We rode that high most of the day, we were sounding off and looking like the company we know we can be. Soon after everything came crashing down within a few moments half a dozen people willingly surrendered their pieces (de-militarized M-16’s) to a company commander outside of our chain of command (obviously a big no-no), someone called an E-7 Sensei instead of chief, and by the middle of the week we pretty much all gave each other pink eye. Hey, our CC’s asked for uniformity and we delivered. So mom, dad, and loved ones when we’re finally reunited and we flash our military ID it may look like we just got back from a Reggae concert but don’t worry it’s just feces.


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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