Bweinh! Goes To Boot Camp — Week 2

June 28, 2007, 5:30 pm; posted by
Filed under Articles, Job  | 1 Comment

Bweinh!’s own Job Tate went through training to become a Seabee in the US Navy.
Read his dispatches here: Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4 | Week 6 | Graduation

“Man’s hand assaults the flinty rock and lays bare the roots of mountains.”
Job 28:9

The first knot the Navy teaches you to tie is the one in your stomach.

After the first week of boot camp, called “P Days” for processing, the medical facility stamps your file one of two ways: “Fit for full duty” or “Light limited duty.” The first means you can be subjected to any and all forms of physical punishment the drill instructors might dream up. And after learning I have 20/20 vision, AB+ blood, strong hearing and no skin diseases, I was declared to be “fit for full duty.” Thus began the ballet that is staying off the drill instructors’ radar.

I will warn those considering a military move such as mine that drill instructors are easily the sharpest cats in the Armed Forces. You don’t outsmart them, trick them or make them like you. They are complete professionals and viciously good at what they do. But what you can do is outsmart, trick and befriend your fellow recruits — and like sacrificial lambs, use them, and their mistakes, in place of you and yours. More on that next week.

Meanwhile the Navy keeps challenging my division and our ranks are dwindling. Last week an 18-year-old kid here complained that he had no feeling in his hand. He was sent to medical, but on his way he ran away — tried to hop the fence and flee the base. Now he’s in the brig. Another kid a few bunks down from him was medically discharged for a psychological problem: inability to obey authority. One-fourth of the division failed the swim test and three-quarters failed the initial physical fitness assessment (both of which I passed because at 27, I get more time to complete my mile and a half, push-ups, and sit-ups).

As a result, a dark pall settles over the bunkhouse at times, as the sobering realization that people can actually fail sets in. We are all becoming more intimate with our weaknesses, and that, my friends, is scary. Weakness in boot camp isn’t something that can be put off, stuffed into your kitchen junk drawer next to the twist ties. When you have a physical or mental shortcoming here, you’d better scare up a physical or mental tallgoing right quick, or buckle up for the consequences.

They gave us our dog tags this week. I was telling a friend how odd it is to be wearing something so iconic around my neck. I shower, sleep, study and sprint in these, and when they jangle I feel part of what I imagine parenthood must be like. There’s no going back now.

My dog tags say “Tate” and “Protestant” on them. Finishing strong is the only option.

Coming in Week Three: The Sacrificial Lambs


1 Comment to “Bweinh! Goes To Boot Camp — Week 2”

  1. Steve on June 28th, 2007 5:49 pm

    Write to Job here:

    SR Tate, Job B.
    Division 237 Ship 10
    Recruit Training Command
    3425 Sailor Drive
    Great Lakes IL 60088-3525

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