Athletic Champion

Mailed blog – written by Julian

08 Feb 11

Yes, I’m referring to myself.  To some of you back home, you might not believe that.  My report from yesterday was quite skeptical of the PT test today, but I rocked it like a Champion.  I didn’t think I had it in me, considering all my aches and general level of energy.  But rah, rah, sis boom bah! Itty, poo, itty!  Here’s the results:  Push-ups: 24 reps –  up 7 from last test.  Sit ups:  47 reps – up 12 from last test! And I ran two miles in 19:45 – 15 seconds faster than the last test.  In all categories I scored over a 60 percent, which is where I need to be for entering Officer Candidate School.  And, scoring over 60 now gives me the privilege of eating the candy that comes in the MREs.  Now if I could just get one that has Skittles in it.  I’m just so proud of myself though, I didn’t think I had it in me.  I think the big man upstairs was sending me some extra energy .  And just think, my scores will only get better from here.

I was so excited for breakfast chow after all that physical activity.  It was amazing.  I had an english muffin breakfast sandwich, some Kashi cereal, yogurt, and fresh fruit.     Of course I didn’t have time to eat all of it, but bites of everything.  Breakfast is the best.

After we fueled our bodies, we marched.  Yes, more physical exertion.  We marched on over to the simulator range.  Each time we add a new component to our shooting we go over it dry (no ammo) for two days, go to the simulator for one day (think HUGE video game w/actual M-16’s attached), and then switch to live ammo at an outdoor range until we all perfect it.  It can get really repetitive, but this is serious stuff.  No joke, you absolutely have to get it right.  For once on the simulator, today I shot well.  It’s hard for me because the weapons there are long stocks, about 5 inches longer than my short stock.  So my hand hardly reaches the hand guard and my eye is about 2 inches away from the sight.  But today I shot 31 out of 40.  Getting better!  I really needed today.  it was good to see how much I’ve improved in everything.

Posted in Basic Combat Training - Fort Jackson SC | 4 Comments

Gomez Blog 1

Mailed blog – written by Gomez – Julian’s Battle Buddy

07 Feb 11

Yep, it’s me Gomez y’all.  Plamann and I have to occupy our time right now with “cleaning weapons”  Yeah, I’m sure it sounds exciting for those who don’t have to do it every five minutes, but truth be told, it’s intended to occupy time because the Drill Sergeants have no clue what to do with us right now.  Right now we are doing our best at keeping motivated.  We want nothing more than some good food, attire fitted to the weather, and a good nights’ rest.  Tomorrow we have our confidence course, and I’m pretty sure we’re going to rock that.  Can’t wait…

Take care y’all

GOMEZ

Posted in Basic Combat Training - Fort Jackson SC | Leave a comment

Tears

Mailed blog – written by Julian

07 Feb 11

I held back some and let others seep out.  It was a hard day.  I knew BCT would break me down and build me to an even stronger person.  Today, I neared the very end of my rope.  I am so mentally and physically exhausted.  We haven’t had positive reactions from the drill sergeants in days.  They hate us right now.  A DS is like your parent while you’re here and you want so badly to please them and make them proud of you.  So when they won’t even look at you, that gets to you.

Today started out pretty okay, as we did the confidence course.  Its an obstacle course full of really difficult tasks, like balance beams, ladders, ropes, barbed wire.  It’s tough.  The last task was a series of fire walls, each taller than the last.  In teams of five you had to help each other over the walls.  It was pretty cool how we worked together to figure it out and get it done.  Then, like we always do,  we ruined a good thing and started screwing around.  Our DS got so mad and then our fun time died.  When we got back to the bay we were all so physically exhausted, then we got smoked for an hour for loosing our “military bearing” at the course.  That made us mentally exhausted.  Then we were left in a room alone together for an hour and everyone just got everything off their chest.  It is so hard to work as a team when we are all at our wits end and getting on each other nerves.  Hopefully one of these weeks we can get a solid teamwork down soon.

Back to tears.  The march home from the course was brutal.  We were marching ridiculously fast.  Think of a crazy psycho mall walker and put about 40 pounds of gear on her.  We were trying so hard to keep our lines together but every minute we’d hear “Close that gap, stay in step, march it out.”  We were already giving as fast as we could and if we ran we’d get yelled at for running.  I was furious.  I really had to hold back the angry tears.  But I held on to my “military bearing” and I just kept marching.  I used my anger to push me forward.  My hips and knees were killing me.  Oooh, I was frustrated.  But soldiers don’t cry, at least out in the open.  At least that’s what I’m gonna try to stick to.  I did let the tears come a little tonight though. 

I got mail!  Letters from Mom, Dad , Margaret, and the Beausoleis!  That comforted me so much.  God must’ve known I really needed that support today.  I was fine until I read the note from my pops.  His notes always get me.

Well, I have to get some rest.  Our PT test from Saturday got rescheduled for tomorrow morning.  It should be interesting as we’re all physically drained from today.  Like I said my hips and knees are paining me and I also have a terrible cough.  I hear heavy rain outside and I pray it keeps up long through the morning.  If God could throw some lightening in there, that’ll be even better.

Posted in Basic Combat Training - Fort Jackson SC | 1 Comment

Halftime Report

Mailed blog – written by Julian

06 Feb 11

While most of the world is gearing up to watch the Packers take home another Super Bowl trophy, here we sit outside (cold) cleaning our weapons (for the third time since we last shot) for the next 90 minutes.  The dilemma is that there’s only two drill sergeants for all 171 of us privates, and they both want to watch the game.  They put us out here on the drill pad to clean our already clean weapons because they can see and hear us from their office…and big screen TV.

Believe it or not, it’s about that time.  I’m officially halfway done.  I figured now that I’m settled in I can explain some of the day-to-day happenings and my surroundings…should inquiring minds want to know.  Also, I really try to remember what I’ve written, but at times I’m sure I repeat myself.   Sorry, So here it is!  Get ready for the G. I. Jules halftime report, sponsored by calorie laden MREs!

First things first, where do I live?  Well, I definitely remember mentioning the “Trailer Park” when I first got here.  The area I live in is all modular buildings, they’re kinda crummy.  We have a classroom building, three barracks (living quarters), and one office building perpendicular to all that.  My bay is on the second floor of building one.  There are 28 of us in one room, 17 very strong Death Dealers and 11 puny Outlaws from 1st PLT.  We have just five shower heads, so that gets real crazy and there’s usually 3-4 females per shower head.  At first it was a bit stressful managing that much estrogen in on tiny shower room, but we’re used to it now.  We have six toilets that stop working every other day, and currently we only have three functioning.  That makes latrine breaks tricky.

We keep our humble abode clean on our fire guard shifts.  Duty rotates every hour from bunk to bunk.  Each shift has set chores, along with ensuring all weapons are present and on safe and keeping all soldiers in bed and accounted for.  Once a night, the bay gets a surprise visit from the Drill Sergeants.  Man, our hearts race when we hear that knock on the  door.  They come in, check our work, make sure we’re doing our job correctly, and usually throw some stuff around and yell at us a bit.  The biggest pain though is the disruption of sleep.  You can’t just roll out of bed either.  We have to put our full ACU uniform on; including boots and GREEN socks.  Then after guard duty, we have to take that all off and put our PT uniform back on.  It’s a lot of busy work in the middle of the night.  We usually sleep a couple of hours, do a guard shift, and then sleep a couple more hours.

Breaking news:  Just got word the Pack is up 14-0, I’m cheering with you all back home.  We’re back in our bay, people are running laps and giggling, singing is coming from the shower, and Gomez is passed out next to me.

Now I’ve covered our housing and sleeping, that leaves eating and daily routine.  I’m not gonna lie, the food here is pretty darn good.  Breakfast is hands down the favorite meal.  Oatmeal, fresh fruit, cereal, yogurt, hashbrowns, biscuits, and real orange juice.  So good.  For lunch and dinner you get yummy baked chicken, fish, pasta dishes and a full salad bar.  We measure the days in chow time.  Best pre-BCT advice I was given.  Daily routine; wake up SUPER early, usually 0440 for me.  Slick that hair back and pin the heck out of it.  Run out for PT formation.  Exercise in cadence, get yelled at because we stink at it.  Roll around in the sand.  Run either 2.5 miles or 30/60 sprints.  Go back and change to our ACU’s.  Breakfast CHOW!  More classes or field exercises.  Dinner CHOW!  Platoon time in our bay classroom,  usually cleaning weapons.  1930 to 2030 is personal time to shower and prep for the next day 2030 is last formation and 2100 is lights out.  VERY full days.

So, there it is, all the mundane details.  Anything I could do to keep my mind off how much the Packers are ruling the world right now.  Okay, have to wake Gomez up for shower time!

Posted in Basic Combat Training - Fort Jackson SC | 1 Comment

Band of Buddies

Mailed blog – written by Julian

05 Feb 11

Life is full of ups and downs, good follows bad.  Yesterday was one of the worst days since I got here and today was by far the best.  Yesterday our drill sergeants had to head to the range for  their annual qualification, so they left two of the newbies behind.  Seeing as we are a day ahead of schedule, there really wasn’t much to do with us .  It was cold and rainy out and we opened the whole day doing ONE drill over and over again to prep for next week’s shooting out in the field.  All day we said, “Target, Semi, Squeeze, Safe.”  I mean ALL DAY!  Gomez and I were running on three hours of sleep due to our staff duty the night before, so the day of monotony was pure torture.

I have now learned I can fall asleep standing up, sitting down, in the rain, snow, sun, sitting in a puddle of mud, listening to M-16’s firing in the background, and even while a drill sergeant comes through our bay and trashes it.  Every second of sleep counts.  If we’re given a 5-10 minute break to use the latrine, we go as fast as we can and then sit and sleep for a couple of minutes (as long as a DS isn’t around).  We can only use our beds at night when we sleep, so during the day there are bodies all over the floor.  The other day we all had our armor and helmets on, so when we passed out on the floor… we had a hell of a time getting back up.  It was pretty funny seeing all of us rolling around.  We could have used one of those “help, I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” buttons.

After yesterday’s agony, today was a ray of sunshine.  But only hypothetically, as it is still raining.  We were supposed to have our White Phase PT test.  After the push up and sit up portion, which we performed indoors, it started lightning out so the running portion was cancelled.  On Monday, we’ll have to re-do the whole test as all three categories need to be performed on the same day.  Needless to say, it was good practice for the push-ups and sit-ups.

From there, the day went a little south.  During our classroom time, we were given a latrine break.  In the past, we’ve always left our weapons in the classroom under our chairs.  Well, today our D.S. went off on us for doing that.  I was already in the latrine when she said to bring them.  All those who left their weapons in the classroom had to put their name on a list.   Only two females from our platoon fessed up, so that was frustrating.  We are getting a counseling statement which goes on our permanent record and all next week instead of personal time we have to serve on the First Sergeant duty cleaning and doing tasks.  Major bummer.  Especially seeing  that we were just doing what we had been told to do in the past.  Counseling statements are always threatened, but I’m pretty sure this one is for real.  Boo.  Another instance of the drill sergeants giving conflicting orders and it being our fault.

But, c’est la vie and the day got way better.  After lunch we finally got our White Phase phone call.  It was amazing to talk to my parents.  I was surprized at all the little things I had to share with them that I haven’t said in blog posts.  I’m sure I gave them an earful.  I was so grateful they answered the phone and that they were both together.  They confirmed that mail has been slow but letters are on the way.  I’ll be anxiously awaiting here!

And the day gets better!  We had a very suspicious pizza party.  The whole time I kept thinking there was some sort of hitch, but there wasn’t.  We all pitched in $10 which got us pizza, soda, brownies, and candy.  I guess we’ll do the same deal when we get to Blue Phase too.  In general, I don’t care for that kind of food, but man it tasted so good.  We ate till we felt sick.  Once we got back to the bay we felt guilty and immediately started exercising…. and laughing and dancing around due to all the sugar we ate.

During the pig out feast, we watched Band of Brothers.   I have always loved military and war movies, but now it takes on a whole new significance.  I see the characters and immediately replace them with me and my buddies we know the lingo, tactics and lifestyle of the soldiers on the screen.  We were talking back to them and yelling out orders, it was very interactive.  We understand the bond between soldiers now.  These are my buddies, my family now.  Gomez and I will forever be connected.  It’s a bond that is hard to explain that only grows stronger as you endure more together.  It’s a pretty neat feeling to be a part of the Band of Buddies.

Posted in Basic Combat Training - Fort Jackson SC | Leave a comment

Marksman

Mailed blog – written by Julian

03 Feb 11

Bang, bang qualification day.  Nice and freezing cold.  I took deep breaths, had a long talk with the good Lord and Mabel and “applied the fundamentals” as I was taught.  I shot 27 of the 40 targets which qualified me as a Marksman shooter on the first try.  I would have liked to have done better, but considering my horrible day of shooting yesterday, I should be very grateful.  Twenty nine would have earned me the title of Sharpshooter and 36 is an Expert.  A Marksman isn’t anything special, but I did qualify and now that’s over.  As I was shooting it started sleeting and I thought my hands were going to break into a million pieces they were so cold.  I’d really like some of that nice weather we had last weekend.  Any time now, okay God?

The Death Dealers once again showed we are the superior platoon and out performed the others, earning us the Basic Rifle Marksmanship award of the cycle.  Our guidon (flag) now has a BRM ribbon hanging from it.  That really pumped us up .  Our drill sergeant was so proud of us.  She is way competitive and this is her last cycle as a drill sergeant, so it meant a lot to her to win today.  So much so that she let us eat the candy in our MRE’s.  I got M&M’s!  And…she’s letting us use our cell phones tomorrow!  See, it really pays to shoot those targets in the face.

As we’re nearing the halfway point, tensions are high and spirits are low.  Even as we accomplish these great feats, we get so worn down both physically and mentally .  I’m feeling like I’m coming down with something, it’s truly Germville around here.  That and I really need a letter from home to lift my spirits.  But I’ve got some great friends here.  We’re all going to make it and we’re doing it together!

Posted in Basic Combat Training - Fort Jackson SC | Leave a comment

“Operation Face”

 Mailed blog – written by Julian

02 Feb 11

It was a rainy, Fort Jackson morning, perfect to start “Operation Face.”  Lately the drill sergeants have really been on us about our motivation level.  They can only give us how much we give them.  True, True.  So during our platoon classroom time, the 3rd platoon Death Dealers  decided swift action needed to be taken immediately.  We melded our brain power, and “Operation Face” was born.  The name of this mission comes from our Senor Drill Sergeant’s favorite place to shoot the enemy, “In the FACE!” We learn so much from him everyday.  With “Operation Face,” the Death Dealers concluded to scream at the top of our lungs and to move at lightening speed for just one day and watch the results we get from the drill sergeants.  After just five minutes the outcome was clear.  The drill sergeants loved seeing us that motivated and our morning PT routine went much easier.  So we stood in the pouring rain, covered in mud and sand, and screamed, “KILL, KILL, KILL!”  All before the sun came up.

When the sun did shine its face, we headed out to the range.  I had a really bad time with the single targets, the way the light was hitting them was making it really heard to see.  Even more frustrating is the feedback I’ve been getting, “Wow, Private, that sucked.  You need to work on that.”  But no real tips on how to improve.  Tomorrow is pre-qualification day and Friday is qualification day.  I hope they’re good shooting days for me, because (no pun intended) it’s been real hit or miss lately. Ha!  I need to hit 23 out of 40 targets, otherwise you get pulled out and sent to the start of basic training.  That’s sure not going to happen, so wish me some luck and send me some prayers.

Gomez and I got a “F***ing, battle buddies of the week!” from Senior Drill Sergeant today.  We’re doing it ….together!

Posted in Basic Combat Training - Fort Jackson SC | Leave a comment

Buddies!

 Mailed blog – written by Julian

01 Feb 11

“Awe shit, privates.”  Sorry for the profanity, but there’s a lot of it around here.  That’s what the Senior Drill Sergeant (the Big Cheese DS) says whenever he sees Gomez and me together.  You see, you’re supposed to go EVERYWHERE with your battle buddy.  Like connected at the hip.  Well, Gomez and I are one of the only pairs that actually stick together all day through everything and the Senior DS gets a huge kick out of this.  So his “Aww, shit,” is more in amazement then anything.  He’ll give us pop quizzes about each other, which we always pass and he finds humor in that.  If we get separated into different training groups we get really upset and he always tries to reconnect us.  Today at chow he told us if we want to win “the prize,” we need to finish the last bite our meals together.  We’ve heard there actually is a Battle Buddy of the Cycle Award and Gomez and I are determined to get it.  We get a big kick out of the Senior DS’s big kicks, so that makes us try even harder to stick together like glue.  All of the drill sergeants are starting to notice the dedication the Plamann/Gomez team has toward one another.  It’s funny.  Just a little game to help ease this training.  Anyway, the Plamann/Gomez team has done nothing but go to the range.  We have fourteen days in a row of shooting, so my daily updates are all the same lately, “went shooting!”  A very redundant story.  Well, Gomez is almost done writing her letters and since we do everything as one, I should wrap it up too.   And…she’s done.

Posted in Basic Combat Training - Fort Jackson SC | Leave a comment

Patience

Mailed blog – written by Julian

30 Jan 11

Anyone who knows me knows I’m a rule follower.  I like order and regiment.  This is why I knew Army life would be good for me.  Call me a goodie-goodie, but I like to do what’s expected of me.  After four weeks, half of our platoon has realized what is expected of us and the other half is still treating this like summer camp.  This is very frustrating and requires a load of patience.  The tensions are high, blow ups are frequent, and I’m glad Gomez is my battle buddy.  The drill sergeants aren’t going to treat us like we’re in White Phase until we start acting like it and showing them we deserve it.  Anyway, there’s a lot of talking and screwing around still going on and I’m not sure what it’ll take to get that to stop.  Unfortunately, we are rewarded and punished as a team.  If one is talking, we all are talking.

Like I said, Gomez and I are really glad we’re battle buddies – good thing, because we are stuck together like Velcro 24/7.  We agree that we can’t imagine being paired up with anyone else.  There’s a definitely a trip to San Antonio, Texas for me and to the Twin Cities for her.  We both fall in the half of “rule follower’s” but we have really good humor about the whole thing.

Today was a nice Sunday.  Church was a gospel concert.  And dad, the sound board was all sorts of wrong and I couldn’t understand a word that was being sung.  Therefore I didn’t enjoy the experience too much.  It was a jumpin scene and I had some good time to ponder but I’ll be glad for the regular service next Sunday.  The rest of the day was spent outside cleaning the grounds.  It was warm and 75 (I’m guessing).  I applied sun block 4 times.  Tomorrow we’re back at the shooting range for week two.  Bang, bang.

P.S.  I really try to remember what I’ve shared before; I hope I’m not too repetitive.

Posted in Basic Combat Training - Fort Jackson SC | Leave a comment

Warmth and Music

Mailed blog – written by Julian

29 Jan 11

Finally, some warm weather and something with a melody.  It was a truly beautiful day here and for the first time I was glad I experience Ft. Jackson this time of year.  I couldn’t imagine wearing all this gear in the summer time.  And while cadences don’t really count as music — It was good to hear something beside “left, right, left,” while marching.

What a marathon day!  We did a five mile tactical field march before the sun even came up.  A tactical field march is different than marching in a group and in time.  It’s  where you wear all your combat gear, march in two long lines, each person 15 feet behind the other, and always keep your head on a swivel to watch for the enemy.  Our whole platoon made it with no problem.  We’re getting pretty used to all the hills here, even the killer 50 degree incline hill.

After the march we ate a quick breakfast and then learned combative for three hours.  We learned how to attack the enemy in a hand to hand situation.  This meant after the long march, we had to wrestle each other in a sand pit…for three hours.  Then at the end we crawled on our backs all the way across the PT field.

After lunch chow, we did drill and ceremony practice for two hours.  This is marching in time and doing fancy movements all at the same time.  Then after dinner chow things kinda slowed down with a two hour rifle cleaning session outside on the drill pad.

It just seemed like today would NEVER end.  But it did! In all, it was pretty fun looking back.  My arms and legs are so bruised up, you could play connect the dots.  So, I definitely have the marks of someone who’s been having “fun.”

Thank God tomorrow is Sunday!

Posted in Basic Combat Training - Fort Jackson SC | Leave a comment