It didn't take long to get to what would be our new 'home' for the next couple of months. We boarded the bus and drove down the street and around a couple of corners to Charlie Company 369th Adjutant General Battalion where AIT will take place. We are still wearing our Class A uniforms and it's so hot and humid on the bus. Getting off, we grabbed our bags and started walking. No sooner had I crossed a particular area of the sidewalk, I hear, "Drop...three-zero!" I hit the pavement and I started knocking out push-ups. Wait. What? Three-zero? That meant 30 push-ups! 😲 Insane! When I was finally able to get up I was told that I needed to watch where I stepped because I had crossed what was called a 'drop zone'. Reminds me of the time Jokala and I ran through our bay and we crossed over the murals. We got dropped by DS Allies. I have come to the realization that there are 'drop zones' everywhere here. Learn them, and quickly. We were introduced to our cadre and they didn't look nearly as mean as our BCT Drill Sergeants. There are several 'classes' in our company I am in Class 50-97. Class 49 is one week ahead of us. Class 48 is two weeks ahead of us, and so on. As we progress through the weeks, we will have other classes behind us.
We have actual rooms in these barracks and there can be up to eight females per room. I ended up in Room #315 with James, Johnson, and Lenhardt. We were in the same company in BCT. We met our other roommates: Henriquez, Baker, and Lewis and I do believe we will all get along well. Dropping off our belongings, we all headed down to formation and marched to the chow hall (still dressed in our Class A's) signifying we were the new arrivals. Chow is most unusual and cadence is called while marching into the chow hall. Back in BCT we had to remain silent and there was zero talking. So, we marched in calling out "Hot Chow...Hot Chow! Get it! Get it! Hot Chow...Hot Chow! (sounding off with something akin to a train whistle). The classes split into two squads entering the building through a set of doors on both the left and right side. It didn't take me long to realize that one side served junk food and I ended up eating hot dogs and pizza, resulting in a stomachache all night! Needless to say, I will not be eating from that side again. Heading back to the company to square away our room and unpack, we came upon DS Stewart, our Senior Drill Sergeant. "Make way!", we said continuing up the stairs. WRONG thing to do! We got dropped on the landing for not waiting until he had passed. We made another mistake by saying "40 Rounds Drill Sergeant!" when told to get up. "It's Army Pride around here, privates". 🤭 This is almost the opposite of BCT. Wake-up and formation are still at the same time. I did something unexpected during PT this morning - I volunteered to be a road guard! I had steered clear of this duty while in BCT thankfully never getting chosen. Yes, it is a very different atmosphere here but incredibly appealing. Lenhardt has decided that she can't handle AIT and wants to leave, I am confused. How a person can get through all the hurdles of BCT, graduate, and then decide they can't deal with it is beyond my comprehension. I had fought way too hard to re-enlist so I could make it back here.
This weekend was refreshing. All we did was hang out and play volleyball. Well, I didn't play because I have this aversion to any type of ball being thrown at me. So far everyone seems pretty friendly. We visited the PX to replenish personal items and purchase a few odds and ends, and I bought some chewing gum! WooHoo! I had missed chewing gum so badly and I was sick of chewing dental floss. Oh, I must have forgotten to mention that part. I got dropped back in BCT by DS Thrine for chewing dental floss because he thought it was chewing gum. He honestly laughed at me when I told him that it was indeed woven dental floss. Well, I had to chew something to replace my gum chewing habit! I bought more writing paper and envelopes, more books of stamps, along with a few civilian items which included a camera. Can you believe it? We can take pictures here! The rest of the evening was spent watching TV and playing pool in the game area. Lights out is not until 0100. Yes, we indeed have a few more privileges here. A few of the upper-class soldiers introduced us to the weight room and followed along during our evening run. The basketball courts get quite a bit of use, too. I like basketball. The soldiers ahead of us are very helpful and have told us to come to them if we have any questions. School starts Tuesday and it will also be our first diagnostic PT test which has me cringing. I believe I will do okay, but the PT expectations here are higher. We were finally re-issued our TA-50 and I was so thrilled to have my canteen back! 🤩 I am so used to having water on me at all times and I was beginning to panic.
School has started and and the classes are more upbeat and energetic. No falling asleep here. After PT in the morning and a hot breakfast, it can get tedious sitting in one room all day, but we get several 15 minute breaks throughout the day. Our instructor is SSG Adeoti and he has been teaching for quite a few years. We also have a few NCOs in our class who are re-classifying. They are always left in charge when taking our breaks or if our instructor has to leave for a few minutes. I can't believe the number of people in my class that are in the National Guard. We have only one that is regular Army. Several guys have told me that their initial MOS was 11B (Infantry), but since they were considered color-blind, they had to choose another MOS and ended up here. Our MOS is all administrative duties. We will be learning SIDPERS (Standard Installation and Division Personnel Reporting System) and learning how to log all data. I will be working in the S-1 office at my unit and be responsible for all personnel support and assistance.
Wake up may be at 0430 every day, but I like getting up at 0400 to have extra time for myself. PT is from 0450 until 0600 then we return to the barracks to shower and dress. Breakfast is served around 0715 and is exceedingly more appetizing and we can have COFFEE!! ☕ After eating, we return to the barracks a second time to tidy our rooms and clean. Clean up is imperative because various privileges can be revoked any time. We report back to formation at 0800, roll call is taken, and then we march to school. DS Martin is our Drill Sergeant and he is downright amusing. He has a Jamaican accent and I love to hear him speak and call cadence. Class starts at 0830 and lasts until 1700 (with those 15 minute breaks throughout the day I mentioned). School ends at 1600, but we spend the last hour cleaning and preparing things for the next day. Cleaning is something you will do a heap of and you can't avoid it, so don't even try. I was very displeased with the score on my first typing test. I only typed 50 wpm with 17 errors, which averages out to around 30 wpm. That is atrocious! 😒 I know my actual typing speed is faster than that when I can correct my errors immediately, which we are unable to do. We had a class meeting this afternoon...and oh my gosh it was long.
I will never understand my own gender. Speaking of those that I don't understand, some females got into an argument the other night. I must have been dead to the world because I slept right through it. Such pettiness! What it was over, I am not exactly sure, but it would not surprise me if it had to do with one of the males. Guys like to talk and since some of the other females and I hang out with them, I hear things. I had the 2nd shift of Fireguard last night. Fireguard duty isn't too bad here. We have a desk that we sit at in the hall. It is our job to monitor our floor. There have been two occasions where a couple of the males have tried to sneak up onto our floor and vice versa. We have to immediately report any incident like that to the CQ desk. I will usually write my letters and get my boots shined during my shift. Having to wash laundry is a thing of the past here. We can have our uniforms sent out to the dry cleaners to be washed and pressed. Clean and crisp uniforms to wear, but it comes with a price - as in deducted from your pay if you sign up. We went to the PX again and it never fails - I always purchase more than intended, like my color book and crayons. Go ahead and laugh. But I took them to class one day and I wasn't the only one wanting to color! 😜 Since both Henriquez and I were dropped by DS Stewart for our hair touching our shirt collar, it was time for another haircut, too. I had to buy another pack of hair barrettes. I can't be certain, but I think I lost a couple down one of the latrines. Oops.
Fireguard should become a permanent duty for me. I am assigned it that much. Not that big of a deal, especially since it appears that I get most of my letters written during this time. Torchlight Tattoo is coming up so we have been making preparations. It's an annual Fourth of July Celebration held here at the base and it's a pretty big celebration with concerts, food, fireworks, and even a cannon salute. The Tattoo is deeply rooted in military history and signifies the time of the musical call for civilian establishments to turn off the taps, and for soldiers to make their torch-lit walk back to their encampments to retire for the evening. James will be carrying one of the flags during the ceremony. Because I have now been marked a 'heat casualty' due to that little dehydration incident in basic training, I was not allowed to sign up to participate. Oh well. We have been sleeping an extra hour as wake-up has been at 0530 instead of 0430, and have only had PT twice this week. Boo! Class pictures were taken today. The first one will have all of our names printed out below the picture. The second picture will be a bit different. We were given the opportunity to show off our personalities and I do believe we did it justice. You will find me in the front leaning rest position with Baker...since that is usually where I find myself. 😂
Torchlight Tattoo was pretty amazing. I mentioned before that I have always enjoyed watching D&C and the ceremony was beautifully executed and everyone in sync. I snapped a few pictures with my camera, but they didn't come out very well. Too dark. Relaxing and just being able to sit and chill with our buds was enjoyable. I was a good girl and kept my intake of junk food to a minimum. But the three day weekend must have fried everyone's brain because several fell out of the run. PT was crazy and I don't know how many times we had to do u-turns to go back and get stragglers. This is one of the downsides about being a road guard. We have to circle back around to collect you if you fall out of a run. Being a road guard keeps my motivation up though. I cannot afford to fall out of a run, or I will lose my position. Plus, you can hear the Drill Sergeant calling cadence better. That is, if you have a Drill Sergeant that can call cadence. You will understand. Trust me. School is progressing and getting into more detail about the functions we will be performing both inside the office and out in the field. My average right now is a perfect 100 and I would like to keep it that way.
Our company had a surprise barracks inspection today and our First Sergeant viewed every single floor and room, including all latrines. We had to stand in formation outside at parade rest while this was taking place and it felt like hours. I was a bit startled when she approached and called my name, along with my roommates, to stand in front of the company. "These five soldiers standing in front of you have THE BEST squared away room in the entire barracks. You all could learn a lot from them. Congratulations to Room #315. I expect the rest of the barracks to look as squared away as their room next inspection," She then asked us what we considered a special request. Hooah! I am so glad that we had decided to do a thorough cleaning of our entire room.
Ugh! What is going on? Today should have been sent back to bed! PT was absolutely deplorable! DS Vinson lead our run this morning and I can't even begin to tell you how out of step everyone was. We are not used to running with her and it showed! I do not like to pass judgment on people, but I have to question how this Drill Sergeant even made it through Drill Sergeant School, let alone passing a PT run. She has no rhythm to call cadence, nor can she run. No wonder we were all muddled! With PT finally over, I got back to the barracks only to be told I had KP, so I missed school. When DS Martin saw me during chow, I was informed that I had failed my last test. Failing a test that has to do with anything clerical for me is ludicrous! I'm an office junkie! I get to re-take it, but I will only score a 70 destroying my perfect 100. Any score under 98% disqualifies me for my AG award. 😔 While I loathed KP during BCT, it was a blast here! I ended up having to do pots and pans and was drenched by the time I made it back to the barracks...thanks to the males who were operating the sprayers while cleaning trays. LOL! I had ten minutes to shower and put on a fresh set of BDUs because I had the first shift of Fireguard. Oh Yeah! That means no Fireguard on the weekend. The days are flying by so fast and at breakneck speed.
Our class was issued our first on-post pass, allowing us to leave the company grounds. Yes! James and I took a trip to the main PX and did some shopping. Later that evening, we strolled over to Ivy Lanes Bowling Center. We ran into a couple of the guys that were in her platoon back in BCT and they asked if we wanted to hang out. Why not? We ended up playing a few rounds of pool and having a couple of beers, and just kicked back and and enjoyed ourselves. The following day we went swimming at Knight Swimming Pool and I found out my cute navy one-piece sunflower and daisy swimsuit was a poor choice for swimming in. It was so low cut in the back that every time I swam, the straps would fall off my shoulders. Oh my gosh! I didn't know how hard PT would be after having a couple of drinks over the weekend. Then again, I hadn't had a beer in months and I felt it! 😐
Mail call! I love getting mail. ✉️ Everyone loves mail. At least I thought I loved getting mail ... until DS Stewart decided that I had to do ten push-ups for every single letter I received. Quit sending mail! Just kidding. My arms are going to look great! Guess what we got this weekend? Off-post passes! We decided to take in some of South Carolina's nightlife and patronize a club or two. We danced (even though I hate dancing), imbibed a few drinks, and ended up making some new friends. James thought it would be cool to hop on the back of a motorcycle for a ride with one of our new friends burning her leg on the tailpipe. Obviously our night did not go as expected. The next morning both of us were called to DS Stewart's office to give an explanation as to why we missed curfew by ten minutes and he also noticed the burn. James told him that she had sat on her curling iron and I thought I was going to bust out laughing. That had to be one of worst fabricated and unbelievable stories ever! I will never know or understand why we didn't get roasted when he honestly knew the truth. James stresses me out. Even my nerves are stressed. As the weeks pass, we have more freedom on the weekends and we can spend it just hanging out. The shoppette has become a regular hangout for us. Lean Pockets has some pretty tasty ham & cheese!
James ended up having her wisdom teeth pulled, so she is doped up on meds. She was restricted to the barracks with a buddy and she chose me. I wrote a few letters home, and slept for a while. Since everyone was in class, the quietness was calming. I had KP yet again, and volunteered to do pots and pans this time. Being in the back of the kitchen is the most fun and you are out of the way. It makes the day go by faster, too. After what occurred last weekend, James and I were fortunate. DS Stewart had told us that we were very close to losing our off-post overnight passes this coming weekend, but if we kept ourselves out of trouble and our room squared away all would be good. "Too easy Drill Sergeant." Right? I had CQ tonight, which I rarely get. I watched TV until lights out and then I wrote more letters. We will be wrapping up school soon and we have all been discussing our end-of-cycle test (Superbowl) and FTX. Time to start rehashing my little 'smart' book again.
Hades has come to visit this morning! My company had a surprise urinalysis and having to wait two hours to relieve oneself was absolute torture! Of course, I had just drank an entire canteen of water. We have random drug testing back at my unit and you're a bona fide idiot if you fail a military drug test. That is one of the easiest and quickest ways to get slapped with a court-martial. Our final PT test was taken today and I finished my run in 16:37. Heck yeah, but I was still irked about failing that clerical test. Even though I was permitted to retake it, you need a first time go on all exams and maintain an average of 98%. Failing that one test put my average at 95% causing my motivation to plummet. To complicate matters further with my accident prone self, I pulled the tendons in my right knee landing myself back at TMC. The doctor profiled me for a week and wrote a script for pain. My roommate Henriquez is on profile with crutches. She was diagnosed with a stress fracture in her left hip and that last PT test made it worse. We have become buddies and I help her to and from chow, school, etc. Yep, we're both broken and nicknamed each other 'Profile'. At least we passed our PT tests before we hurt ourselves. 🙄 Since the weekend is approaching, I am elated that my profile ends Thursday night. You are confined to the company and cannot leave if you are on profile.
Today was TACCS (Tactical Army Combat Computer System) training and our official last day of school. These computers are used to support CSS (combat service support) missions in supply, maintenance, medical, and personnel areas. The next couple of days were spent logging serial numbers of the TACCS systems and learning how prepare them for storage in a field situation. They fit perfectly in a box and weigh at least 100 lbs. I can't believe that we are finished with school and a week early. Detail. Detail. Detail. That is what we will get stuck with.
Our class party was held in the day room and we rented a couple of movies, ordered pizza, and played pool. The day was epic and we had a great time. All of us get along quite well and I will miss some of these people that I have gotten to know. Several of us have been tossing the idea around about getting rooms at Holiday Inn Express and hitting the indoor pool and bar they have. That will be intoxicating! Pun intended!
Of all the brainless and foolish mistakes to make, being late to formation should NEVER have been one of them! Formation was called at 0810. The lot of us didn't arrive until 0840. "Front leaning rest position-MOVE!" Smoke session! You would think our brains would be functioning more comprehensively, but our epic day must have addled our wits. We are too close to graduating to be doing stupid stuff like this. What is the worst that could happen? Your guess is probably correct. Evening formation was called early, mail handed out, and we had our off-post overnight passes suspended. When you play with fire, you eventually get burned. 🔥
Holy cow! 🐄 Here's the lowdown. DS Stewart is giving us a chance to redeem ourselves. If we (ALL of us) pass our last CI inspection, he will reinstate our passes. Remembering the last inspection at BCT didn't leave me with much hope. The males had doomed us by getting a no-go on their weapons and we spent the rest of the evening cleaning and re-cleaning our weapons. I know we are going to be asked questions we should know...Chain of Command, Ranks, General Orders, etc. I had already been reviewing my smart book at bedtime the last few nights because of Superbowl and FTX coming up. We shined our boots and re-painted all the buttons and eyelets on our gear. Our room was swept, mopped, and the floor waxed and buffed. Beds were all made with the covers tucked and pulled tight. Our uniforms were hung neatly and everything in our drawers were folded and rolled accordingly. So, it was hurry up and wait.
Tick Tock check the clock, cuz Charlie Company's about to rock and rock it we did! My room was again the top room during inspection. Aww, so sorry some of you catty females catch the jealousy bug so quickly! 😘 Work hard and you shall reap the benefits of a job well done. It's quite simple I assure you. Asking upper classes what to expect and how things are cleaned and squared away always helps, too. This time, even our males were on a roll as well! Great job guys! We nailed all the questions asked it is so nice to pass an inspection without any mishaps. Army Pride!! FTX and Superbowl were child's play compared to what we experienced in BCT. Then again, we had already been through this rigmarole and were used to the procedures and the outcome. My entire class successfully completed and met all the requirements and we would all be graduating at the start of next week. Hooah!
DS Stewart congratulated us on a job well done and granted our wish. We got our off-post OVERNIGHT passes back! YAY!! When we were finally able to leave, James and I took a taxi to the Mall of Columbia and hit the stores! I bought some CK jeans and a couple of nice shirts, and a Winnie the Pooh gold ring, even though I don't wear much gold. I didn't get my chance to go to the zoo because no one else wanted to venture that direction and I couldn't go alone. Later that afternoon, quite a few of us met up and booked rooms at Holiday Inn Express. The pool was fantastic and we all enjoyed it immensely. I borrowed a swimsuit from my buddy Kelly since I didn't want to wear mine that kept falling off my shoulders. We swam for a while and had a couple of drinks. At around 6 pm we got dressed, called for a taxi, and headed to Outback Steakhouse for dinner. I 💚 Outback Steakhouse and my steak was greatness! That evening and well into the night, we all went room to room visiting each other, drinking, and having a carefree time. We even had a few NCOs that had rooms on our floor join us. 🤫 I didn't mention that.
The next morning dawned bright and sunny, and we all headed to IHOP for breakfast. I ordered the breakfast sampler so I could have my pancakes, eggs, bacon, and sausage even though my appetite was only mediocre. It was clear that every single one of us was suffering from a mild hangover, but we were going to eat and eat well. My mood nosedived when I realized I had lost my camera. Noo! 😭 Are you kidding me? We finished eating and headed back to the hotel to pack. It was time to head back to the company. Graduation Day was just a couple of days away.
Graduation day has arrived! It was nothing like the graduation ceremony for BCT with all it's pomp and circumstance. All of us were dressed in our Class A's and a small ceremony was held. We sat patiently as our names were called out and then walked up and across the stage to receive our certificates. A few pictures were taken and some family members were in attendance. The whole ceremony lasted around 30 minutes, and then we were dismissed and told we could change back into our BDUs.
We started packing that afternoon to get a head start on our out-processing the next morning after chow. It was a long and arduous process having to go from building to building with our paperwork, but we accomplished it faster than expected. Good-byes were said and hugs given, and then James and I were driven to the airport to board a plane back to Texas.
I had finally achieved and accomplished my goal I had started in 1993. I was a soldier in the United States Army.
The opinions expressed on these pages are my own. Everyone will have a different military experience and outcome. Military icons used are by Freepik, Smalllikeart, and Pixel Perfect from Flaticon. Emojis courtesy of Emojipedia. My military dolls were made on a dollmaker by eLouai (no longer available) and edited by me using GIMP.