Echo 195 Recruit Journal Week 06

International Maritime Signal Flag Echo

 

Echo 195 Recruit Journal

Formed: Sep 26, 2017

Graduates: November 17, 2017

ECHO-195 Week 06 Summary

Yet another week on this totalitarian compound. After suffering many devastating losses in our company headcount this past week during our section commander’s surprise rack and squad bay inspection, we opened to a whole new Week 06.

The week actually started quiet well, with the company splitting up for either firearms training or more administrative time preparing to report to our first unit (if we even graduate at all, as Chief Krusko often likes to say). Going to an off-base gun range, we got a small taste of civilian freedoms again: sightings of muggles freely strolling about in town, the news on TV, and an un-supervised bus ride where some shipmates may or may not have been “productive” by catching up on some sleep, as Chief Krusko himself implied as an allowable option (while expressly telling us not to). Once there, we trained on a safety-less, specially-commissioned double-action 9mm handgun that the USCG uses. Many of us were surprised that getting high marksmanship scores was more about doing exactly as we were told by the Gunner’s Mate instructors than any prior firearms experience, with several total noobs getting perfect scores.
We also opened the week with the realization that we just had our first full day with ZERO Incentive Training (sadomasochistic PT) or Remedial Instruction (hours -long sweat and pain sessions in various positions of strain) by our company commanders. When we’re good, we earn more time to clean our squad bays, square ourselves away (company-wide boot or dress-shoe shining sessions, for example), and spending more time preparing for our company’s Close Order Drill and Manual of Arms Evaluation instead of on “stupid things” (like holding canteens straight in front of us for hours to pay for not doing things right). Wednesday evening, Chief Vetter took us on almost an hour-long march around the regiment without a destination. Some of us our speculating that he was testing us to see if we’re ready to go on an off-base march or run yet. On Friday evening, Chief Vetter and PO1 Fortenberry surprised us by telling us to go get changed into our gym clothes and go put on bug repellent. It was an exciting moment for us as we went on a company run around the track with PO1 Fortenberry singing a cadence song for us to repeat back in unison.

Another proud moment is when we broke out our recently -issued dress uniforms to get re-fitted then practice donning properly. In full bravos with combination covers, we were all complimenting each other on how great we look. But in the well-trained eyes of our company commanders we still don’t know how everything is supposed to be worn: wrong double-windsor knots, loose threads most of us hadn’t yet made the time to cut, uneven nametags, and crooked gig lines “like a street in San Francisco.” Also in ET1 Fortenberry’s words: “Your dress shirts looks like you ironed them, with other wet dress shirts!” But we do pay for breaking military bearing and laughing, which in our state of sleep deprivation seems harder as everything feels more hysterical. So developing the ability to never laugh (or even crack a smile) is yet another area of self-discipline and self-mastery we are working on.
This doesn’t mean that everything has been peachy. Whether a shipmate was caught daydreaming like a space cadet, or we were late completing missions, we have also earned our moments of IT and Remedial Instruction (mind you, this is on Chief Krusko’s timepiece, which befitting of his behind-the-scenes reputation as “the Punisher”, runs faster than everyone else’s watch). As Chief Krusko says, “Echo: Week 06 and you still refuse to meet time objectives! My only conclusion is that you love pain.” As it was immediately after breakfast, a shipmate threw up in the middle of our sniper session screaming, “WE’RE NOT READY FOR WEEK 06”—but nausea or vomiting, you will be mistaken to think that the punishment stops. (Last week there was a post-supper session with a cascade of over a dozen vomiting shipmates from screaming their faces off while holding canteens straight in front of them. Nevertheless, the “disciplining” continued on for hours.) There was also an IT session this week that happened right around Morning Colors—imagine us all getting beaten by our CC, then suddenly standing up and snapping to attention to solemnly salute the flag to the notes of the Star-Spangled Banner, only to resume ASAP to more callisthenic beatings on the bare concrete ground.
That said, Week 06 has been by far the nicest yet.

As you probably know, this Saturday the majority of us earned on-base liberty. What a joy to see everyone’s happy faces as they made hours’ long phone calls to our loved ones. Unfortunately, some shipmates among us who were on probation were forced to stay behind and study. But we are proud of them for their hard work too, and hope that this only means they will come back as even stronger recruits than the rest of us.

Last night was Daylight Savings Time. Some people were up an hour earlier than necessary until realizing that we actually have a much-needed extra hour of sleep. The timing was perfect, because starting Week 07, recruit reveille is a half hour earlier. When our eyes and head are nodding off into spontaneous fits of microsleep while the rest of our body is marching or even sweating and in pain during various positions of strain—with some shipmates working late or rising early for band or ceremonial practice, and all of us standing watch at night—sleep is a commodity.

Today started as a glorious day, having just had our first off-base company run (with Delta-195, too).In the beginning, our guidon SR Foltz was handed a pine branch to replace our regular “E” flag because we weren’t worthy. But right as we were exiting the gate, SR Foltz was handed our long-awaited blue-and-red pennant. You can hear the collective murmurs of elation within the E-195 formation. Have we finally earned it? It was truly a moving moment for us all. And then, we ran and loudly sang in unison to our company commanders’ cadence songs, the townspeople joining in with their bicycles while many more cheered on as they snapped photos of us.

The pride of earning the guidon did not last however, as it was ceremoniously retrieved by our company commanders as soon as we re-entered the base gates. After showering came another surprise rack inspection—Unsatisfactory—resulted in us being ordered to pack everything into our seabags again. An hour of hauling our heavy seabags as fast as possible while screaming, “WE WASTED OUR TIME!” (we had Liberty yesterday then Divine Hours earlier today) was followed by IT with our M-16s. It looks as though we may be looking at another long night, as we go into Week 07.

The weeks here must be earned.

I will say though that our company has really been starting to come together. We had a class on hazing this week, and I can say that that is something that does not exist in our company. We’ve had some rough patches in the earlier days of receiving our first few reverted or rephased shipmates from previous companies, calling them Deltas and ostracizing and blaming them for our company’s weaknesses like an old boy’s club. But that is no longer a thing, as we have started to see that everyone brings something that makes our company stronger. We’ve had many times throughout the week without our usual leadership, like our CCs or any of our squad leaders. Yet, many are able to step in as we all work along together like a team, like the many Manual of Arms practice sessions that SR Iles leads or the marches that SR Taylor commands. The hope is that we continue to improve our ability to work well together as a team, and lose any last remnants of our bad civilian habits, as our CCs would say—in other words, act with poise, self-discipline, and full military bearing a tall times. USCG Boot Camp has a way of instilling the discipline, teamwork, growth, and the Coast Guard’s 3 Core Values: Honor Respect, and Devotion to Duty into all these young souls, majority barely out of high school, along with a handful of 20-somethings and one 30-year old. The plan is that we’ll all go on to become the next generation of Coast Guardsman that will protect, defend, and save lives in service of this country and the rest of the free world. TRACEN Cape May is an amazing place like that.

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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