Tango 194 Recruit Journal Week 06

International Maritime Signal Flag Tango

International Maritime Signal Flag Tango

Tango 194 Recruit Journal

Formed: June 27, 2017

Graduates: August 18, 2017

 

Week 06 Summary

Somehow, week 06 is almost over. Strange things are happening in the land of long days and fast weeks – it doesn’t seem possible that week 07 is about to begin, a mythical number that has always been too far off to even contemplate. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. “Eyes in the boat shipmate!”, because this show isn’t over: as a wise man once said, the most dangerous part of every mission is the end, or near it.

Backing up a bit, last Sunday ended with our first-ever company run through the streets of beautiful Cape May, New Jersey. Those were our first ever steps through the gates of torment, and back into the land of the living. As we ran, we sang double-time cadences called by our Company Commanders, things like “Rock Steady”!”, and “I got a Yo Yo!” at the top of our lungs. It was less singing and more vaguely in-tune shrieks, but it felt awesome. Each line and beat of the cadence goes with the double time steps, so you’re running to the music. When we got it right, we were loud, and in time, it felt like we were flying, stoked on the sounds we were making and fueled by them. Even better, the streets were lined with residents and tourists cheering us on, so we felt a bit like heroes. Imagine that: emerging from our dingy sweat lair into the light of the world for the first time in more than a month, we were greeted like people worthy of something. Not just something, cheers of approval. It was almost like we did something right. And then Chief Heinze spotted a shipmate that had his PF shorts on backwards, so we got beat pretty hard upon our return. Still, totally worth it. Also, we couldn’t hear most of the cadences in the back, so there was a lot of vaguely-in-tune-mumble-shrieking mixing with the coherent stuff at the front. Still cool though.

Monday was marked by the reintroduction of evening routine, a trend initiated by Chief Heinze that would continue throughout the week – even when Petty Officer Botts and Chief Pullen held the reins. We did a lot of marching with the new pieces we were issued the day before and practiced manual of arms: moving our pieces in time and in step with everyone else in the company. These ones are real M-16s, so I guess they think we’re beginning to “adult” as they call it. They don’t have firing pins though, so don’t worry. Speaking of “adulting”, we’ve been doing more and more of that lately. Starting around Monday, there was a noticeable shift toward everyone working together and working well, working like a team and holding one another accountable. We’re starting to act like we want to pull this whole thing off. Our Company Commanders seem to have noticed, as we’ve been getting a lot more autonomy lately. That’s not to suggest that we are a free people now – if anything it just means “we have more rope to hang ourselves with” – but the responsibility feels good.

Tuesday was awesome, mostly because we did pugil stick fighting. We went down to the track, dragging along a bunch of goofy looking fighting gear (some red diaper-looking things, oversized hockey helmets, and padded sticks), and formed up around the arena. It looked a bit like a cattle pen, except with openings at each corner. Everyone but the two gladiators in the ring lined up around the edge, and things got crazy. Our Company Commanders let us off the chains, so we were allowed to let it rip and become true savages. The first few fights were a bit pathetic (mine included), but when the Vice Admiral and our Commanding Officer showed up, things ramped up. Our Company Commanders were playing dual roles as referees and enforcers, so any time things were looking weak, they’d shove us back in and make sure someone got beat up. Petty Officer Botts was in charge of calling the hits that counted, so when he saw someone he wanted to get wrecked, he made sure that it didn’t stop until they were thoroughly stomped on. It was probably the most hilarious thing we’ve done so far – Even Chief Heinze was laughing. Our Company Commanders were talking a ton of trash, some real boot camp poetry. They are amazingly good at that.

Thursday was another one for the books. It started with graduation support for Romeo Company, the lucky bunch that got to leave this week. We were stationed all over the place, greeting and trying to look like we knew what we were doing. The scary part about that is, every rank has its own proper greeting and every combination of ranks has a sequence: great highest first, move down. Greet the person to the left first, not the right. If you mess up and greet the wrong person first – especially if it’s an Admiral and the Commanding Officer – you’re gonna hear it. You might even get reverted. If you don’t salute the Captain, you definitely will. When there is a swarm of officers and people of all ranks that require their own specific greetings milling around, it becomes terrifying. They swim in and out of the crowd, pop out from behind civilians, swing down from trees. One of our most squared away recruits mistakenly saluted and greeted our Commanding Officer when he was escorting a Three Star Admiral. It was an honest mistake, but he instantly wound up with a probation belt around his waist.

Later that day we got to go to live fire firearms training. It was our second escape from these hallowed grounds, this time in an extremely comfortable bus and totally free from our Company Commanders. We drove about an hour to a remote location outside of Atlantic City, a Department of Homeland Security facility that looked like something out of the Netflix series “Stranger Things”. There were space-age-looking wind tunnel things along the way with top secret access, mysterious aviation design labs with people in trench coats. None of this had anything to do with us. We were just going to the indoor shooting range, but it felt like we were being inducted into something secretive and important. When we got inside, we went through a bunch of different firing drills and got scored on marksmanship. There is something really cool about hearing the pop of twenty or more pistols going off at around the same time, feeling that kick, and watching a hole appear more or less where you were aiming. It’s a bit like magic. We actually did really well: I think something like 90% of us passed, so here’s to hoping Chief Heinze is proud.

Quote of the day for Friday: “Hey, Tevis, did you ride a pony today?”

“NO CHIEF LYNCH!!”

“But you wanted to, right?”

“NO CHIEF LYNCH!!”

“Bull@#$%, Tevis.”

The above remarks were heard in class immediately following Coast Guard Day, where there were ponies. Apparently Chief Lynch thinks that Seaman Recruit Tevis looks like the type of guy who likes ponies, and since our Company Commanders are always right it must be true.

To provide some context, Friday was Coast Guard Day, the birthday of the Coast Guard. We Tango recruits marched over to the camping area, helped set up, and then run the festivities, and it was awesome. It was also a bit unsettling. We were working with the children of Company Commanders and others that we normally cower before. None of us really knew how to act at first. We pulled it off though, and some of us even got to speak to Captain Gibbons, the Commanding Officer. More importantly, we got to eat cake and ice cream – something that is totally unheard of here. The best, but also strangest part was that most of the people we encountered treated us like human beings. Even some of the off-duty Company Commanders. It’s almost like they aren’t always angry, but that has yet to be confirmed. Also, there was a live band playing some pretty good music, something that we really don’t have access to.

And then there was today, Saturday. In the morning we spoke to our mentors, one person each from the enlisted and commissioned sides of the Coast Guard. They are tasked with giving us a glimpse of what life in the fleet is really like and motivating us to aspire toward something. They honestly are great, and they usually hook us up with some candy.

And then we got on base liberty: 06 hours of freedom, albeit within the confines of the training center. Our first stop was the Exchange, the Coast Guard’s version of a grocery/convenience store. We bought some useful things, but mostly more candy. We are now all (or mostly) sick, but it was absolutely worth it. From the Exchange we went to the Harbor View, TRACEN Cape May’s on-base restaurant and bar. No alcohol for us, but phones and burgers!!! Hopefully you all got calls from your people on the other side. Chances are you did, because almost all of us spent the entire time glued to our phones, connecting with the people we love and miss the most. It is hard to put into words the feeling you get when that person picks up, but I’m sure you understand. For us, it’s like a dream: we get to talk to people from a world far removed from our own, one we are desperately hoping to rejoin. I definitely cried a bit, and I’m pretty sure I was not alone. Not sad tears though, happy ones. It was easily the best thing we’ve done so far, a great day at the end of a surprisingly good week.

So in conclusion, week 06 was marked by some serious progress. We are starting to come together in a huge way, and it was hinted at by Chief Heinze that we might be allowed coffee and even desserts soon. What a time to be alive. This isn’t to suggest that the sweating has, or will ever stop, but it does mean that we are really starting to learn and improve. We’ll be remembering to keep our eyes in the boat, stay locked on, and we damn sure won’t let ourselves loosen up. As always, we are missing you. Today was great though, and we wish you all the best.

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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