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You would think that after that shameful march, my platoon would 'get it together'. WRONG! As we marched to chow today for lunch, some of the guys at the back of formation were laughing and joking around. Another Drill Sergeant from another company happened to see us, and informed our Drill Sergeant about the goof-offs. To say we got punished was the understatement of the century. We got SMOKED! The push-ups were not down-UP. They were down-hold for 20 seconds-UP! My arms felt like jello by the time it was over. We became angels with shining halos 😇 the next few weeks. We started working on our platoon motto, formation and calling cadence better, and studying for Superbowl during our down time (mainly weekends when we are doing laundry and shining our boots). Superbowl is a cutesy term for what we will be tested over before graduation. Basically, everything in our little 'smart' books. Yeah, that little book you are supposed to commit to memory. We also got to attend a concert, eat pizza, candy bars, and drink some cokes (Dr. Pepper for me) and dance, even though I do not dance.  It was definitely leisure and relaxation time, but we had a shakedown when we got back. Whew! 

Hooah!!! Our guidon has been un-foiled and our platoon has risen from disgrace!  We have now moved on to the WHITE PHASE. My leg hurting the other day turned into a pulled quadricep muscle during PT, and does it ever hurt! I ended up having to visit the medical clinic (TMC) and have it checked out and get some meds for pain. Hopefully this will not last and I can be up to par and back to training. I have several Drill Sergeants that want to see me succeed, especially since they know this is my second go around. Wind sprints just aren't my thing, but DS Thrine said they can make, or break, your run time. I am starting to relish PT and calling cadence makes it even more lively. I run in group D, which is slowest, but I am hoping to change that. 

It's time for BRM (Basic Rifle Marksmanship). We had to grasp and learn the four fundamentals of firing: steady position (keep a firm grip on your rifle), aiming (make sure your front sight post and the rear aperture are lined up), breathing (control your breathing), trigger squeeze (don't just pull the trigger, but squeeze the tip as you exhale). Today we practiced breathing techniques and trigger squeeze. Fort Jackson has several rifle ranges and we have to march to each and every one of them. The road marches can leave you knackered, but knowing chow is at the other end keeps me going. Training with the M16 starts out on a simulator called the Weaponeer. I fired nine shots at my target aiming center mass, but I didn't do well according to my printout.  It took me four times to qualify on that simulator, but I finally passed. 

Before we are allowed on any rifle range, we all had to sit in the bleachers and listen to the range NCO explain the safety precautions and procedures. Always keep your weapon pointed up and down range. One of the males got chewed out for resting his head on the front sight housing of his M16 while we were listening to one of the briefings. Any range you visit, you will have some kind of briefing to listen to. They may be boring, but the information can be life-saving. There have been too many accidental shootings because of stupidity. Back at the firing range, a group of us were sent out ahead of our platoon for range detail, which involved setting all targets in place, picking up casings from ammo, and making sure all of the lister bags were full of water. Water is crucial here and it is extremely important to drink even when you are not thirsty. By the time you feel thirsty, dehydration has already set in.  I sliced my hand on a couple of staples while removing a target the other day. Nothing bad, but it looks like it will scar and look like the letter V. Jokala has nicknamed me VP. LOL. Next, we had to zero our weapons. It took a while to get mine zeroed, but within a few hours, I was firing all my rounds inside my 4 cm circle. We learned how to fire our weapon from a foxhole (in the ground) and the prone position (lying down) with and without sandbags. When leaving the range, weapons are checked for any rounds that might have not exited the chamber. "No brass, no ammo Drill Sergeant!" is a phrase continuously heard when exiting the range. The M16 is very easy to break down and clean. Make sure you clean it after every use. DO NOT skip cleaning your weapon, even if you only fired a couple of rounds. You will not be happy (nor your Drill Sergeants and NCOs) if your weapon jams because you decided to skip this important step.

 

No training = KP yet again. Working in a hot kitchen all day can be more draining than training. We have to be at the chow hall at 0500 to get everything prepared and ready for breakfast. The only break we get is sitting down to eat.  Fifteen minutes, tops. Afterward, we get to clean everything and start prepping for lunch, repeating this same process for dinner. On a normal KP day, you are lucky to get back to the barracks by 2000. Talk about tired!! It's nice to get back and shower-even at this late hour. I had Fireguard again from 2100 to 2300. Weapons qualifications are coming up and we have to hit 23 out of 40 targets 🎯 to qualify with our M16s. We also found out that one of the new incoming Drill Sergeants will be attached to our platoon. His name is DS Miller and we have heard he is pretty hard core. Maybe he can perform a miracle. God knows my platoon needs one.

Qualification Day has come and gone, and I couldn't have been more disappointed in myself. I fired and hit just 24/40 of my targets achieving only a marksman badge, and I put the blame entirely on a bee! 🐝 A beastly bee decided to pester me while I was firing from my foxhole-just like last time. Of all days, why Qualifications Day? If you know anything about me, you know I have a major phobia of bees. 😱 I know I could have done a lot better.  Anyone who did not qualify this first round will get another chance to re-qualify before graduation. If you cannot pass the rudiments of Basic Rifle Marksmanship and qualify with your weapon, you do not graduate. We were able to participate in another confidence course (endurance test) as well. It's all about TEAMWORK and we all worked as a team and didn't start the next obstacle until our squad was finished and together for the next. This was a truthfully motivating moment. That moment when my platoon started building on each others strengths and weaknesses, all coming together and pushing each other to do our very best. DS Miller had indeed taken the lead and everything started to look up from here. Now, if only my leg was not becoming a hindrance.

I visited TMC to have my quadricep re-examined, since it was another KP day for us. I was there all day but I did start my ultrasound therapy, which will last a couple of weeks and my meds were upgraded. I was put on 'profile' for a week, which limits my physical fitness training and running. Hopefully this therapy allows for quicker healing and I will be good to go and back to training. The next day, we all loaded up on the bus in our PT uniforms and headed back to Reception to get "fitted" for our Class A uniforms. It was a long-drawn-out day and I had no idea trying on clothing could be so mind-numbing. Yeah, I am definitely not a clothes shopper. The pictures we had taken at Reception weeks ago were top only pictures and we collected those pictures today. Oh my gosh! At least I didn't have on my funky glasses. I also placed an order for a sterling silver US ARMY ring, which is similar to a high school class ring. It has the US Army crest on one side and my MOS crest on the other.  The weeks seem to be flying by now.

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My US Army Class A pictures from 1994 and 1997. My hair was long when I first enlisted and joined the military in 1994. I chose to cut my hair during BCT after the hilarious episode with a bee that occurred during training with my M16 in a foxhole. I thought my Drill Sergeant was going to have a fit upon seeing me with my eyeglasses broken, kevlar pushed back, and my long hair an absolute mess because my hair-clip had failed to do its job. There was zero doubt in my mind when I returned to BCT in April of 1997 - my hair was going to be SHORT!!

Could these two pictures be any more different? The first picture is definitely better than the second.  LOL!

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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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