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My platoon made it to BLUE PHASE. This is our final phase of BCT and builds on everything that we have learned in the last weeks. Wake up was at 0430 (the usual) and we were all down in formation by 0450. We started drawing weapons at 0515 and then headed out for another road march, this time marching in tactical formation to the range. The cooler temperature and slight breeze made it more bearable. Breakfast was okay, but I have yet to mention the concept of 'slide and eat'. You take your tray and carry it to this long table. Starting at one end, eating as you slide your tray along the table sidestepping as you go. By the time you reach the end of the table, your tray should be empty. If it's not, too bad. Today was weapons familiarization day and we got to learn about and test several different types of weapons. First up was the M18 Claymore Mine (dummies of course). It wasn't too hard, but you had to keep your wires from getting tangled. After we were done setting up we had to yell, "Claymore, Claymore, Claymore!" Then we got to fire the M240B Machine Gun. Now that baby can fire some rounds! The M203 Grenade Launcher was pretty cool, but firing dummy rounds out of the AT4 Anti-Tank Rocket Launcher was awesome! After all that exciting fun, we saw the Claymores in action.  Marching back to the company was tough and I had rubbed a blister on my left heel. Ouch! Oh, and guess what tonight brought me? Fireguard duty! 🤪  

We didn't march to the range this morning ... we rode a bus! My feet got a break and maybe this blister will heal faster. Today we engaged in tossing live grenades. First, we entered a practice bay wearing flak jackets under our LCE (Load-Carrying Equipment). Standing behind a small wall with the range NCO, we had to first squat and stand up, then a grenade was put into our hand without the thumb clip. We had to say clearly "Proper grip--twist--pull pin!" throw the grenade quickly, and squat back down. "Too easy, Drill Sergeant!". We threw a few dummy grenades, moving on to practice emergency procedures, and then we were allowed to throw live grenades.  We also learned and conducted some tactical maneuvers, and then took part in a short obstacle course with our buddy. We ran from log to log, dropping for cover which is called the three-minute rush. My buddy would shout "Buddy set" and I would have to respond with "Buddy moving" as we pushed on through the course, maneuvering and engaging targets as part of a team. The low and high crawl was not bad, except when I was on my back using my quad muscles to push forward. It hurt like the dickens! We did some more shooting with our M16s and had to fire ten rounds with our protective masks on. When night closed in, we fired a clip of regular ammo and tracers, which looked pretty wicked in the dark. We didn't return to the company until well after 2100. Most of us just dropped on our bunks and went straight to sleep, but I was in need of a cold shower first.

The weekends are our breaks in-between training. This is when laundry is done, letters written, study time, boots shined, and phone calls home. Or we just sit around in our PTs talking with each other and chilling, like we were doing in the company area on a calm Sunday afternoon. We were chatting about our accomplishments and giving each other kudos, not paying any attention to the Drill Sergeant that walked through our area, until it was too late. It was DS Miller and he was NOT in a good mood. He took this opportunity to prove just how lousy his mood was instructing us to get in formation where he proceeded to bestow upon us one hellacious smoke session, and right in front of all the other platoons. "Front leaning rest position-MOVE!" We dropped. "Up!" We stood up. Then he began giving commands for facing movements. "Left face!  Right face! About face! Drop...UP!" We jumped up. "Privates, the next time a Drill Sergeant, any NCO or Officer for that matter, walks into your presence someone had better be paying attention. Now get upstairs and change into uniform. Be back down here in five! Go!" We hot-footed it. My whole platoon ran upstairs to our bays to change from PT uniforms into our BDUs. I had never run so fast in my life and it felt like death was close! Surprisingly, every last one of us made it back down to formation on time. He recommenced issuing more facing movements, dropping us time and time again.  This continued for several long minutes. "Get up. At ease. I want you all to get upstairs and change back into your PT uniforms. You have five minutes.  Go!" Bolting back upstairs and to our bays, we changed again and then back down to get in formation.  More push-ups. More commands. Then it was back upstairs. We were stunned as we ran back upstairs yet again to change. As we were lining up in formation, a couple of guys from 2nd platoon grinned and let out a snicker.  DS Miller turned to them and asked if they would like to join us. Crickets. "Platoon ATTENTION! Do we have an understanding?", he said. "Yes Drill Sergeant!" We were dismissed and told to carry on. This was how we spent our calm Sunday afternoon. I was physically and mentally wiped out. From this day forward, my platoon had a newfound respect for DS Miller. 🤔

We finished our last Confidence Course and I must say I made it through with almost no mishaps. I fell off a couple of logs, but only because I executed too quickly and lost my balance. We were split into several groups of six to complete these obstacles and my group did awesomely. We had finally mastered this thing called 'teamwork' and it has been jaw-dropping to watch all of us come together. the last several weeks had been crazy. I just have to pass my last PT test but my apprehension has grown because of my injured quad muscle. Superbowl was just that. Easy. "Too easy, Drill Sergeant! Too easy!" We had all trained for this day and I passed with flying colors. Hooah! We tested over everything that we covered from our IET handbooks and we rocked Superbowl! Sports Day fell at a great time to decompress and our company's 4th Platoon was chosen to represent us in the D&C Competition. We got to wear our PT uniforms and the day was ours. The temps were not overly hot and the sun was shining brightly. Since I am not your sports girl, I sat back and watched with a few of the other females. It was an all around good day, but I was glad to see it end. I was overtired and after Hydration Formation, I hit the showers and went straight to bed.  

 

I awoke the next morning and felt like I had been hit by a freight train. My platoon had KP again and in formation came too early. We marched to the chow hall and started getting things prepared for breakfast. DS Miller knew I was feeling unwell and made sure I was drinking water. I could tell he was concerned when he asked if I needed to go to TMC. I said I would be fine, but by 1000 my head was spinning. By 1200, I started dizzy and drinking water was not helping. DS Miller approached me, handed me my sick call slip (which he had already filled out), and ordered me to sick call, sending me with my bunk-mate, Serna. Upon arriving at TMC, my temperature was taken and Serna was sent back to the company to inform my Drill Sergeant that I would be admitted to the hospital. 🤒 If your temperature is above 99.9°, you are kept for observation and mine was well over 101°. They took me straight back to a room and immediately administered two IVs. A throat culture was taken as well. I was dehydrated and DS Thrine was not happy. Even though I had been drinking water all day and using sunblock, I had managed to get a little sunburned. Dehydration had set it through the night. Serna helped pack a duffel for me and DS Miller delivered it to me at the infirmary. Here I sat for two days, missing my final PT test. There was another female in my room from AIT. She had visited Myrtle Beach while on pass for the day and gotten severely sunburned. After a couple of days, I was finally given the all-clear by my doctor to leave and DS Miller picked me up with two of my buddies, McConner and Malicoat. I guess there are just some Drill Sergeants out here that get their rocks off by being a complete baddy and DS Thrine was one of them. He had the gall to greet me as I returned to the company with "Welcome back Newcomer, glad you could join us. Oh, and I hope you are not going for MP because those are the last letters of WIMP. I can't believe you went to sick-call for a sunburn." Wow. Just wow. 

When I finally got to make up my final PT test, it was no picnic! The push-ups and sit-ups I completed with no problems.  The run almost annihilated me. Seven lengthy laps around the field and all I could think about was Graduation Day and walking that field. I was on my last lap running with this female  from 4th Platoon name Purcell when I began to fall behind. DS Smith (2nd Platoon) saw me and came to my rescue. He ran the last lap with me calling cadence and telling me that I was going to make it and to just breathe. I crossed that finish line and practically fell over with relief when my time was called - 17:45!! OMGosh! I shed some happy tears and I was so proud of myself. I would indeed be on that graduation field this time around. 🤗  

A few days later, I got called into DS Thrine's office with my buddy. TMC had called and I was to report promptly for medication. My throat culture had come back positive for strep throat. Hmm. The look on his face when he realized it was not just a sunburn was priceless! But as a result of this new development, I was again put on 'profile' and told that I would not be departing with my company to Valley Forge. I was dispirited as I watched my platoon move out with the rest of our company. I would be missing my last road march and the night infiltration course. I was not the only soldier in my platoon that ended up staying behind. McConner had rubbed some pretty horrid blisters on her feet that became infected and could not wear her combat boots. A few other soldiers from the other platoons had to stay behind as well, so Fireguard and CQ (Charge of Quarters) were split between us for the next few days. The Drill Sergeants let us sleep in an extra hour, too. CQ was quite pleasant and definitely more preferable to Fireguard. We had to answer the phones during the day and take messages, file paperwork, and clean the offices at night. It kept you busy. Our company looked completely exhausted when they returned, but they were stoked by the feat they had just accomplished. Their uniforms were covered with orange sand and their weapons would need one heck of a cleaning. Graduation Day was less than a week away and we had one inspection left to pass. Best part - my platoon had finally learned our platoon motto.

A few comments and a cold shoulder here and there have been thrown at me the past couple of days. I was even told by one female in 4th platoon that it angered her that I got to skip out on FTX. Females are so catty which just reiterates my most consequential reason for getting along better with males. Did I want to miss out on going to Valley Forge? Um, no. I was told that I would be staying behind at the company with no argument. To top off this malcontent, the day went from bad to worse-a wallet has turned up missing from our bay. The Drill Sergeants have given us two choices: a walk through the latrine to drop the wallet on the floor, or write a note stating a specific soldier if we know their name. No wallet turned up and our bay was thoroughly searched. The males got the same treatment, but the Drill Sergeants found Cokes, candy, and a can of snuff hiding above the ceiling tiles.  They got one heck of a smoke session! Still no wallet. CPT Fagget called a company formation and proceeded to give us one heck of a coming to Jesus meeting. We were told that if the wallet was found on any one of us, that we would be taken into custody by the MPs (Military Police). To this day, I do not think that wallet was ever recovered.

A huge shout out the females in my bay! 😀 We may not all get along, but we passed our final inspection flawlessly. But many thanks to our male counterparts, we ALL spent the rest of the evening after chow cleaning and re-cleaning our weapons because they failed to have their M16s spotless during inspection. Thanks guys! What a crazed long day! We didn't get back up to the bay until after 2200! Sleep could not get here fast enough. The days following will be filled with packing, graduation, family day, and out-processing. The payoff - finally earning the rite of passage from civilian to Soldier. Hooah!

The story and views expressed on these pages are my own. Everyone will have a different military experience and outcome. Military icons used are by Nhor Phai, Freepik, Smalllikeart, and Pixel Perfect from Flaticon. Emojis courtesy of Emojipedia. My military dolls were made on a doll maker by eLouai (no longer available) and edited by me using GIMP.

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