Tango 194 Recruit Journal Week 05

International Maritime Signal Flag Tango

 

Tango 194 Recruit Journal

Formed: June 27, 2017

Graduates: August 18, 2017

  

29JUL17

Week 05 Summary

Week 05 is coming to a close. It has been a whirlwind tour of speed showers, speed shining, speed eating, sleeping, you name it. They call it SAR week, short for Search and Rescue. Each time objective is compressed to reflect at least some of the stress involved in a real situation. I’m not sure how close it actually comes, but I found it really helpful – I’m not always the fastest when it comes to changing or shaving, but it made me better. I’m sure the same is true for quite a few of our shipmates.

In terms of its defining characteristics, this week felt something like a time of transition. We experienced our first (and still only) day free from incentive training. Punishment was still largely collective, but a noticeable shift toward individual targeting has come.

The first major event was the uniform inspection on Monday. It was a heavy shake-up and our second encounter with Chief Sammuels. He is, to put it mildly, an intimidating person – and a Yeoman to boot. Everyone has to vent their anger outside of the office, and it appears he has found the perfect niche. He has a distinctive build up when he is about to place someone on probation or revert them: it starts with an increase in volume, then a slew of questions. The more the recruit gets wrong, the louder he gets. The louder he gets, the harder it becomes to think, let alone answer questions. When the questioning stops, the tone drops down in pitch but is no less menacing. The next words are often, “Pack everything you own, and come square my hatch”. That means you’re done, and it happened twice during the uniform inspection.

The earlier part of the week – after uniform inspections and before the rack inspection – was dominated by classes. As I mentioned before, classes are kind of great. Quite a few of the instructors – especially Petty Officer Brooks – are pretty relaxed. It’s a whole new world at seamanship; our lower backs are allowed to make contact with the seat rest (a luxury) and smiling and laughing are good to go. It is these basic comforts that restore some of our sanity and sense of humanity. Also, as noted, the walk down to that part of the campus is the best. We get to see nature for a little while and march in comfortable silence.

Speaking of marching, this week has been full of it. Up and down the regiment, practicing close order drill and manual of arms. We’re attempting to dial in out piece movements, things like left and right shoulder arms, present arms, and piece nomenclature. All of these things are supposed to be perfectly synced between the 100 of us, so it is a challenge. The good thing though is that it’s not incentive training and we’re learning things. We’ve learned almost as much as we’ve sweated this week, so it’s possible that we might be inching in a positive direction.

But here’s the thing: week 05, like I said, has been all about transition. Mostly, it has been a series of violent swings from good to terrible. For instance, the rack inspections that followed all that learning brought on a world of hurt. They happened yesterday and entailed Chief Sammuels and company, swarming around the squad bays, tearing up our worlds. A roving gang of company commanders – most of them Chiefs – is a terrifying spectacle. They re like sharks, and we aren’t even seals. We can’t swim away (no fins to speak of), so we just get mauled. The feeling is hard to describe, but it’s almost as if eye contact with them could bring sudden death. When there are 05 of them on the prowl, nowhere is safe: one will be standing on top of a rack, another peeking out from behind a corner. Don’t look behind you because there’s another breathing silently down your neck. When they make you pop your rack for inspection, it can be hard to breath.

Major note to self: do not write things in the historian’s log that could get the company or yourself in trouble. In describing the aftermath of the inspection, I said some things that I definitely should not have, mostly about speculation pertaining to another company. As you may know, I wrote about a rumor that reversions might become less common. So to show me how wrong I was, a shipmate was reverted on the spot. I hope to God that that was not all because of me. There was a lot of screaming from Chief Sammuels, and the company was reminded that we can never let our guard down. So, in summary, I feel really, really bad. Moral of the story: watch out for your shipmates and think before you act or write. That was this morning.

Later in the day came the defining moment of the week. We received our orders today, so now we have a purpose – a tangible goal is in sight. We were marched over to the Regimental Flagpole and ships bell, reminded that we do not deserve even to know where we are going yet, and then called up.

This was the best part. Each shipmate, as they were called, was harassed the whole way along. If you messed up any close order drill movements, you got called out. If you chose a guaranteed “A” school, Chief Heinze ridiculed you for not wanting to be a Boatswains mate. If you wanted somewhere warm and got the Great Lakes, you heard about it. “Penguins or palm trees” was the phrase of the day, and it usually meant that you were not going to get what you wanted. One of our shipmates asked for Puerto Rico and got Cape May, New Jersey. Absolutely brutal. So many of us messed up when repeating our orders, that Chief Heinze started telling people to “shut up and go away” after more than one failed attempt.

Really, though, it was an amazing feeling. Ringing the bell after stating our orders felt like a ritual from the far past of maritime tradition. Literally ringing in the future with our own hands. I’ll be off to California, some of us got the Great Lakes, some Hawaii. Quite a few will be on cutters, some traveling the world. These are exciting times.

Final note on the week: we spent the rest of the day with Petty Officer Botts, and it was actually great. He was almost nice, or at least less mean. When it comes to Company Commanders – especially Petty Officer Botts –things like niceness are graded on a weighted scale. We practiced marching, went to the gym for a bike workout, and walked around with ropes. It was a day and week of extremes. It ended as it began, and there’s really no telling where to from here.

 

 

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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