Bweinh! Goes to Boot Camp — Week 3

July 5, 2007, 5:30 pm; posted by
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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

Article VI: “I will never forget that I am an American, fighting for freedom, responsible for my actions, and dedicated to the principles which made my country free. I will trust in my God and in the United States of America.”
Code of the US Fighting Force

Week three of boot camp is filled with more push-ups, more humiliation, more challenges and less sleep — but it also contains more classes, more structured PT, and more camaraderie. With routine comes the ability to plan how and when to hide in the shadows.

Our classes are surprisingly engaging. From a legal course on the Uniform Code of Military Justice to Basic Seamanship, Navy recruits quickly learn that learning most separates us from the other branches’ basic training. Understanding sonar is not something you pick up off the back of a cereal box, and mastering Aegis missile guidance requires a level of assistance just this side of a sensei. Finally beginning to feel like a sailor is the most satisfying aspect of it all.

With the passing of the third week, the hemorrhaging of recruits has begun to abate, and we’ve found some stasis — although some attitude issues remain, and other recruits are on physical or academic probation. But I’m “Tater” now, the division tutor and smart aleck, son of a preacher man. As I look out for them, I have a sequence of guys constantly looking out for me as well. We fix each other’s bunks, spit-shine each other’s boots, and guard each other from our drill instructors’ wrath. I’ve never liked cliques, but now I love them. A solid clique in boot camp can mean survival. Perhaps even success.

This week we were also given two things: our first decoration, and one phone call. Every male and female in our division was awarded, on behalf of the President, the National Defense Medal, for joining the military during wartime. They gave them to us so soon so we’d have yet another thing to shine, I’m sure. My phone call was sent to Benson, Vermont, and my mother’s voice was one of the sweetest sounds I’ve ever heard. How odd to spend almost a month without hearing your own mother’s voice. I hadn’t been fully aware of how much I’d missed it.

So far I’ve scored perfectly on every test I’ve been given, and this even goes for mail call. I haven’t had to endure one mail call without receiving any mail. Spectacular. Makes this boot camp experience so much easier when you’re reminded daily of the people, by the people, whom you joined up for in the first place.


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