28 March 2007

Old Guy Boot Camp Diary

This is a repost of a 2 page diary I wrote after boot camp.

In 2002 at the age of 39 I attended a special Navy Reserve Boot Camp program that is now no longer available. Had it not been available at the time, I probably would not have been able to join.

With my possible upcoming deployment to sea pending, I thought it would be a good time to revisit my diary I wrote just after I returned from Great Lakes, Illinois.

I am now 43, soon to be 44, too old to be an officer, and probably one of the oldest E5's in the Navy (soon to be E6 I hope, though the rate or job I am currently in has almost NO openings for advancement.)
**update, while at sea I was advanced to E6 and received both Enlisted Surface and Air Warfare designations. This was one of the hardest things I've ever done...including getting my Bachelors Degree.
***update, in 2010 I was selected for Chief Petty Officer and pinned as a Chief on Sept 18.

I am sure while on board, I'll meet quite a few E5's that are 20 years younger than me. If you are a young person who is thinking about joining up, I highly recommend doing it sooner, than later. Later is a lot harder. However at the age of 20 I didn't really think there was much worth fighting, dying, or killing for. It wasn't until I had a family, possessions and had fallen in love with what America is that I understood why our founding fathers would have fought so bravely for what we have here. I also did not understand nor believe in evil.

Now I know in my heart of hearts that freedom is not free and there have always been people bent on the downright evil destruction of it.

I am proud of what I did..and am still doing but I am very humbled by those who sacrifice so much more. Pat Tillman and others who gave up lucrative careers to make $12 an hour and see the enemy....face to face. My sacrifice is small compared to the soldier or the marine on the ground, putting their life on the line every day for us. My hats off to them. I am glad to be counted among them, but I do not consider myself worthy to tie their shoelaces.

THIS SITE IS NOT AN OFFICAL DOD OR NAVY WEBSITE, IT CONTAINS OPINIONS AND EXPERIENCES WHICH ARE PERSONAL IN NATURE AND DO NOT REFLECT ANY OFFICIAL STANCE.

May-June 2002

NOTE: NPSAC, later called NRAC (Navy Reserve Accession Course) is no longer available to new recruits. All new Navy personnel must go through full boot camp and "A" school.

NPSAC was a 17-day course of military instruction (a boot camp) conducted aboard Recruit Training Command, Great Lakes, IL. It was preceded by 6 months of training and followed up by nearly 2 years of additional training done on drill weekends plus a two week school in N.O. LA.

Prior to going to boot camp, all bookwork, medical, dental, uniform issue and basic Military instructions were learned (regular recruits do all this in their first three weeks of bootcamp.) NPSAC recruits came to boot camp already knowing quite a bit about how to be a sailor. By the time I attended NPSAC boot camp, I was 39 years old.

The Adventure Begins

Ever have a nightmare that was really interesting? It made you very uncomfortable, but you still wanted to slip back into the dream after you woke up from it? That is kind of what NPSAC boot camp was like for me. Boot camp is what you make of it, you have to know it isn’t going to be fun, but it will be interesting, challenging with the occasionally fun event. If you go into boot camp with this attitude, you will do well. It was actually more difficult than I had imagined it would be.

There was a group that didn’t make it through, there was a group (us older guys) that thought it was difficult and challenging, but most people thought it was about what they expected. There was also quite a few people who felt it was too easy and should be made more difficult.

This synopsis of NPSAC boot is not a blow-by-blow account, although it starts off that way. The first three days are very hard and stressful. They let us sleep only 2 or 3 hours a night. Some people did not make it because they felt ill or it was too much pressure for them. I think we only lost one person during this time, but I believe several decided they wanted out and later went to medical and said they were sick so they could get out (personal opinion.)

I arrived at Chicago O’Hare with my seabag on my back, filled with all my uniforms, boots and personal items and my garment bag, with dress uniform in my hand around 1430 on 30May2002. I immediately saw several sailors in dress whites that had graduated from NPSAC that day. They advised me to go get something to eat before I reported and so I headed to the food court area. They were headed to a bar to have more than their share of adult beverages in celebration of the ordeal being over, which should have been a clue to what I was in for. I ran into a fellow Denver shipmate there and never got around to eating (which was a mistake,) we talked for a half hour and I took off to the USO. The USO had me sign in then sent me downstairs to the baggage area.

I went into the baggage area and saw many sailors milling about. From the back far corner I heard someone scream “YOU..get over here!” I looked up and there was a man in a Khaki uniform (the color of Officers and Chief Petty Officer’s) looking straight at me. I ran over to him, he was a chief, I could tell from his collar device. He had me line up on the bulkhead (the wall) and wait for instructions. In the airport we put tags on our luggage, turned in our medical paperwork (they looked it over there to make sure it was all there,) gave them all our information so they could make our dog tags, and got yelled at just a little. A First Class Petty Officer took a smaller group aside and asked us how many of us joined the Navy to serve our country. Almost all of us raised our hand. He said that is why he works with NPSAC recruits. He said that in a group of 80 new recruits of age 17 to 20 he said he would be lucky to get one hand raised to that question. That made me feel good that someone appreciated what we were doing.

The bus ride to Great Lakes was excruciatingly long ride in bumper-to-bumper traffic. What should take 30 minutes took 2.5 hours. I sat next to another 39-year-old named Robert who also joined to do his part after the attacks on America. We got to know each other and became pretty good friends during the whole ordeal. He was also about my height and we always lined up in a height line so he was right behind me. Once we got there we unloaded the seabags and garment bags and put them on our backs and stood in line…for a very long time. I noticed it was quite humid and very warm at Great Lakes even though the sun had almost gone down. I was sweating pretty heavily already. We put our sea bags into a truck and proceeded into the main recruit in-processing building.

Our New Name

While standing at attention, we were first introduced to our new names. Our new first name was Seaman, our middle name would be Recruit, and we did get to keep our given last name. For the duration of my stay at Recruit Training Command we referred to ourselves in this way. We went into a class filled out several pieces of paper (one for reimbursement of travel expenses,) and had a bathroom break, hereafter shall be known as a “head call.” We were treated with respect, but with an edge of “obey or else,” which we all expected being in boot camp. They issued to us tennis shoes, two pair of shorts, a pair of shower shoes and a couple of other items.

Once we finished in-processing we proceeded outside onto a large concrete area and took seats for over an hour while they finished up with the stragglers inside. During this waiting period we were talked to by a Petty Officer who made us feel welcome, and told us some sea stories.

Then we walked (at ease marched) to our building (hereafter referred to as the “ship.”) Every building at RTC is known as a ship, has a port, starboard, aft and forward part, as well as a quarterdeck (the place where you enter and greet the sailor on watch and ask permission to board or go ashore!) The march took a while as our building was over a mile and a half away! Once we reached the building we proceeded inside and picked a bunk (rack.)

We were told to make the rack (put sheets on our bed). I don’t remember exactly what else happened that night but I know we did not unpack much as it was already past midnight. The women recruits stayed in the room across the hall. We had around 85 recruits in our unit, the majority were men, but I am not sure of the breakdown. By the time we had hit the head (went to the bathroom) and received some initial introductions we hit the rack (after 12:30.) Not much sleeping was happening, I heard no snoring. By this time a lack of food had given me a pounding headache. I unfortunately picked the rack in the very front, so I heard every person coming in and out of the door, I slept lightly for about an hour when the first wake up came….0300.

The lights came on and a loud obnoxious voice filled the air. I don’t remember exactly what he said, but it was time to get up. His name was Chief McGillem, he later became my favorite RDC (recruit division commander,) but he didn't like to hear that. He made us exercise (motivated us) if he heard that we liked him too much! He was very hard on us, expected perfection, but he was inspiring.

Later Chief McGillem even told us when we were doing well, unlike some other RDC’s who only tried to motivate us by humiliation and we would never hear a positive word from. The whole day is a blur, it was filled from 0300 to 2200 with instructions on how to fold clothes, how to stand at attention, how to march, how to eat, what not to do and worst of all….stenciling.

We had to stencil every piece of clothing we brought. It is an arduous task, and one that Recruits have enjoyed for decades. It took all day and well into the next and some people still didn’t get finished. NEW NOTE: The Navy tradition of stenciling is not the way that you will mark your clothes now, this is great news for you if you are going to boot camp. The most difficult part of these two days was the amount of time you are given to do something. For instance make your rack, you have 2 minutes. There was never enough time to complete any thing they asked us to do, it was very stressful, but we managed and were starting to learn to help each other (which is the main thing they are trying to teach you.)

Is NPSAC Boot Camp Wimpy?

If you are reading this and you went through regular boot camp with any branch, you may be thinking…is this guy a wimp or what? Only 17 days long, how bad can it be? Remember boot camp? It is boot camp, and we squeezed in almost every evolution that the regular Navy recruits do in 9 weeks into two. 17 to 20 year old recruits come to boot camp badly out of shape (generally) and unable to run even short distances.

NPSAC recruits were expected to be able to run their mile and a half in under the allotted time, perform push-ups and sit-ups and pass the PRT (physical readiness test) before they even get to Great Lakes. NPSAC recruits came prepared, with our full seabag, our items memorized (regular recruits learn those items and get issued uniforms while they are at Great Lakes.) NPSAC recruits also got all medical/dental paperwork done prior to boot. Regular recruits spend a lot of time getting medical and dental done at Great Lakes.

Our NPSAC unit after 1 week of marching was at about what a regular recruit division’s marching is at about 7 weeks according to our RDC (recruit division commander.) Yes it is only 17 days, which makes it easier. I personally thought it should have been about a week longer.

NPSAC’ers went through about 6 months of drills, completed the BMR (basic military requirements text book) on their own time before they are cleared for this kind of boot camp. In many ways it was every bit as hard as regular boot, however after a the first few days the yelling and intimidation was toned down a bit because the average age of a NPSAC recruit is over 32 years old. So the answer to is the answer is no it is not wimpy, but one thing is whole lot easier...you go home much sooner.


My First Real Challenge

During the first 48 to 56 hours I had a killer headache from lack of caffeine. I stupidly did not wean myself off caffeine (was told by a former NPSAC recruit we could have coffee at boot camp) and boy did I pay the price. At age 38, I had been drinking several cups a day for 15 years. I almost had to go to medical. My head hurt so bad I was sick to my stomach. It was during these first 48 hours they were evaluating the unit for leaders. I was just trying to survive my migraine.

So I tried to blend in, listen and not make mistakes, but I didn’t volunteer or become visible for much. I am not proud of that, but I can’t change the past so, nor how I felt physically.

During these first three days the recruits were evaluated and watched for leadership potential. An RPOC (Recruit Chief Petty Officer or Recruit Petty Officer in Charge) is chosen and a “Master at Arms.” The RPOC is the leader when marching and in many other cases. Being an RPOC or a Master at Arms looks very good on your Navy Record and is a great way to start your career.

The RPOC has to learn lots of things and lead the group all over the base through traffic and remember a lot of procedure. I was in no shape for that with a Migraine and one-hour sleep, I could barely stencil my skivvies! The Master at Arms is in charge of the ship, he is the one who makes sure everyone has their stuff in the right place (on spot and squared away) and helps the recruits to do it right. That person has to care less whether anyone likes him. Our Master at Arms won a leadership award. I actually raised my hand for this, but did not get chosen. Side note: we did not get a shower (hereafter referred to as hygiene,) during the first two days.

During this time it was also around 85 degrees and 90 percent humidity. I am from Colorado and am not used to humidity. It was making me very fatigued. They advised us to drink 12 to 15 canteens of water a day. I did that but I did not expect my bladder to receive that much exercise too! There is no air conditioning in the ship (the building where we slept was called a ship).

Sunday we were allowed to go to church, and I took them up on that. Unfortunately anyone who went to church did not get to hygiene that day! After church on Sunday it was a little more lax, but we continued to learn to march and practiced quite a bit Sunday afternoon out in the heat. Sunday night it began to rain, by Monday it was still raining and rained for two more days. It was quite cold and windy during this time, but it was great for sleeping. I had no trouble sleeping at boot camp after the first few days, but if I hadn’t brought earplugs I would have been miserable. We had some guys snoring so loud that they could rattle the paint off the walls.

Note to potential recruits: first chance you get to go to the store and buy earplugs...do so and hide them in your locked drawer.


Marching

As I said earlier, NPSAC recruits were expected to march as well in just a few days as it took the regular recruits weeks to learn, so there was a lot of marching going on. Everywhere you go you practice marching. Our feet and ankles were pretty tired and somewhat sore after just a few days of it, and it went on all the way through the last day! The last week our unit marched well and looked sharp. We had our moments when we were really tired that we couldn’t seem to get it together, but we did well most of the remainder of the time.

Chow Time

Eating at RTC is an interesting experience.. at first. The largest dining hall in the Navy can feed as many as 10,000 people at each meal! You have to get your unit through the line in 5 minutes or less and then you have 10 minutes to eat. The whole process from walking in the door to walking out takes 20 minutes. The “employees” of the dining hall are recruits in about their 5th week of basic training. Most of them have a great attitude because they are getting to do something different for a week. However it won’t take long until you are tired of being told at high volume “SHIPMATE, HURRY THROUGH MY LINE SHIPMATE.” I was really tired of being called a shipmate. I usually answered them back by using their name (which is right on the front of their uniform.)

The food is good, sometimes mediocre, but I never had anything bad. There is a salad bar which I utilized at every lunch and dinner. You look forward to chow, it is fuel you need because you are using it up. You are not allowed to talk during chow or at any time in the dining hall. You can get in trouble for doing so. This also got very annoying after about a week, not being able to say “please pass the salt.” You are instructed to make hand signals.

Swim Qualifications

A mile and half march in the cold rain brought us to the pool on Monday. Surprisingly 22 people from our unit did not pass the 3rd class swimming qualifications the first time out. They were sent to remedial training and had to try to find time to take the test again later. When you are only there for 17 days, trying make something up you failed is darn near impossible.

A few never got it done, but most passed close to the end of boot camp. If you can swim, the test is not difficult, but where many failed is with the requirement to use real swimming strokes in the 50 yard swim. If you use the breast stroke, you must stick your face in the water to exhale, if you do the crawl you must stick your face in the water to exhale, if you do the back stroke, you must keep your head all the way back…no cheating or you fail. We had to jump off a tower (about 12-15 feet off the water) and swim the 50 yards right after. Dead man’s float (face in the water, only coming up to inhale) for 5 minutes…some failed here because they cannot relax in the water. Then the easiest part was making floatation device out of coveralls. You slip out of your coveralls underwater, tie the legs and arms in knots and pull it over your head swiftly to catch air. I did it in less than 10 seconds. We did it in the boy scouts when I was 13, pretty easy to do if you can tread water.

Physical Training (PT)
If I had one piece of advise for someone scheduled to go to boot camp it would be to get in shape immediately. Don’t mess around, don’t wait, start running, stretching and exercising. You will march 5-8 miles a day minimum in extreme heat and humidity or frigid cold, be motivated (pushups, jumping jacks and 8 count body builders) as punishment for not being squared away (having everything perfect,) do PT, plus run a PRT*.

We had official PT about 4 or 5 times a week. They were not difficult evolutions, unless you were being scolded for something, but combined with all the marching and the heat, you could be in trouble if you are not in good shape. We had about 6 people go home because of various illnesses, some I believe were just not physically ready for the strain or mentally prepared for the stress. Also be prepared to sit on the floor a lot. It is hard on the back and the legs.

Classroom Time

About 5 or 6 afternoons were spent in the classroom interacting with a teacher. Many evenings are spent in the ship listening to a Petty Officer or Chief teach on various subjects. Test questions are given on classroom interactive and book fill-in questions. The most difficult thing about classroom time is staying awake. It is not boring, but the heat, the food and fatigue make it difficult to keep your eyes open. Falling asleep is bad news, so they expect you to stand up if you can’t stay awake.

Firefighting training is at least 4 days plus one episode in the “confidence chamber” (tear gas chamber) and one afternoon of live Firefighting training. Classroom time in firefighting training was refreshing to us. The teacher was very nice and very professional. He would give us news of the outside world (sports, financial, political.) AND any Petty Officer or Chief that treats you like a normal person is refreshing when you are at boot camp.

Many times it appears to the observer that recruits are a disgusting, annoying bother to the training Petty Officers, RDC’s and Chiefs. I realize this is all part of the training, but to a 39 year old professional it does get old after a couple weeks of being treated like a piece of dog crap on their shoe. I understand that in the military, rank is the un-equalizer and that is one reason why they treat recruits this way. As a recruit, you are an E1. As a 39 year old civilian with a successful career it took a lot of humility to do... and honestly some of them were not the best trainers...but a few were pretty inspiring.

Confidence (Gas) Chamber

The tear gas episode happened during the second week and was one I was really dreading and honestly was fearful of. For regular recruits it happens close the last week of bootcamp. The supposed reason that the confidence chamber is experienced by every recruit for 75 years now is to instill confidence in the equipment so that the sailor knows his OBA (oxygen breathing apparatus) or in this case the "canister mask" works like it is supposed to.

For me, I believed them, I didn’t need to go through this exercise to know the masked worked, but for some I guess it does drive home the point. It really does work and gives them "confidence" in the equipment. I personally believe the reason the gas chamber will never go away is it a tradition, a rite of passage, everyone had to do it in the past, so they aren't going to stop the practice regardless of reason.

When I first arrived at boot camp, just the thought of going through the gas chamber made my heart beat faster. I was really afraid. However after a week of going through all kinds of doo doo with my unit I was no longer afraid of it. I can’t really explain it, but I was over my fear prior to doing it. The effects of tear gas vary from person to person. It felt worse to me than I expected however. Recruits are only directly exposed to the gas for about 60 seconds and its affects wear off in about 5 minutes after you get outside. It does however feel like a long time.

It is painful to the eyes, skin and nose. It made my eyes water like crazy and I did not want to open my eyes after I got outside. Those who are outside and have recovered help the people coming out deal with it and reassure them they will feel better in a moment and that helps a lot. The gas makes your nose run and if you have a cold or sinus problem it will clear it right up. Everyone one looks bad coming out.

The unit is brought into the chamber in lines of 16 or so recruits. Each line steps forward separately to take their masks off. The Petty Officer (the teacher you have learned to trust over the previous 4 days) instructs the group to step forward and remove your masks. You drop the canister (air filter) into a trash can and each say your name (Seaman Recruit so & so, Division #.) Once everyone is finished then you leave the room in an orderly manner. I was first to speak and last to leave. Once you remove your mask, I just breathed shallow and tried not to panic..a few did panic. Thousands of people do this every year and are uncomfortable for about 5 minutes then it’s over. It sucks, it hurts, but anyone can endure a little pain for a minute, and I and my shipmates did just that.

Live Firefighting

If you are attending boot camp at Great Lakes you will do live firefighting in the Navy’s state-of-the-art firefighting training area. It sounds cooler than it really is but you do get to squirt water on real flames as well as using a C02 extinguisher on a simulated electrical fire. You also have to go through a smoke filled areas (and you cannot see a thing) as a group. Everything is highly controlled and basically it just gets you used to using the hoses, extinguishers and OBA and to find out what its like to not be able to see. During this time you will wear your OBA for over an hour (closer to 2 hours.) Some people are claustrophobic (they will panic in the mask) and feel like they cannot breath in the OBA. I tried to help those people relax and breathe normally. It is hot and sweaty, but this is a fun evolution compared to what you did the day before, or sitting in class. Live firefighting is definitely one of the few fun things you get to do. During this evolution and actually all through boot camp I was thanking the Lord for giving me the strength to to all these things. To me it was really a miracle since I had been battling with mono-nucleosis and shin splints almost all year up to this point. I was doing great, feeling great and was very relieved that I was.

Dress White (or Blue) Inspection

The formal uniform inspection a few days before graduation by the Senior Chief was actually quite stressful for some people. We had to stand at attention in a hot room for a very long time. One girl fainted. The chief stands right in front of you and asks you a question concerning something we were all required to memorize. In our case we had to tie our neckerchief in less than 120 seconds. Everything during the inspection must be perfect. 4 hits and you fail. Standing inspection is something you will do periodically throughout your Navy career. However very few people have ever been ousted out of boot camp because of a failed inspection. There would have to be a lot more a circumstance surrounding it, but it is stressful all the same.

They look at uniform fit, creases, shoes shined, tied correctly, hat (cover), salute, haircut (I was told to cut my chest hair so it didn’t stick out the top of my t-shirt!!,) socks and military bearing (the ability to stay at attention in spite of distractions.) If you are going to boot camp it might be a good idea to get some soft inserts for your shoes. If I had it would have been a little less painful on the bottom of my feet.

Shooting Range

Weapons’ training is actually a disappointment to anyone who has ever shot a gun. It may have changed, but when we did it there is an indoor range with a target (only about 10 yards from you at the most.) You shoot a 9mm handgun equipped with a laser and realistic bolt action. Your results are scored on a computer. The same is done with a shotgun. The safety rules are very strict and if you don’t follow the rules they kick you out and you fail. You are not allowed to turn your head towards the instructors. One of my friends sneezed then looked at the instructor. He screamed at him and kicked him out. Later in the week they passed him after our Chief appealed the matter higher up. However since June 2002 when I went through boot, I have heard a rumor that real firearms training is now a used. I would certainly hope so.

The Last Few Days and Catching the Crud

The mood really changed the last days we were there. We were still very busy, but the Chief and one Petty Officer really had some fun with us, told a few jokes, talked about music and tried to generally enjoy ourselves. One of our Petty Officer’s however did not change her attitude toward us during our stay, they were jerks to the end. I stayed healthy until about 3 days before we left. Many other folks had some coughing crud immediately that was going around.

I also know why I got sick. After a full day including the PRT (run, pushup, sit ups,) firefighting 2 hours wearing an OBA, Miss Grumpy Petty Officer marched us in the searing heat for over three hours. We were beyond exhausted and out of water in our canteens. She was angry that some of the people would not march correctly so we just kept on marching. The reason some people were messing up is because they were tired and overheated.

I got overheated bigtime. When I got back to the ship, my shipmates poured cold water over me until I felt better. It gave me a headache that remained for two days and I caught the crud going around. The recruit crud attacks the lungs, makes you cough and is the type of virus that can really take it's toll on you. If I had gotten it earlier I would have been up a creek. I have a lot of respect for the toughness of a few people who battled through a lot of stuff coughing and wheezing from the first day we arrived. If you are going to boot camp, build up your immune system before you go. Being stuck with people from all over the country in a hot sweaty building can be quite the germ labaratory.

Team Challenge or Battle Stations Training

I am not at liberty to discuss the particulars of what was called the team challenge or "Battle Stations" with potential recruits. It's a secret. They made us promise not to tell. I will say it was very fun, but it was physically and mentally challenging. It is also the most rewarding day (besides graduation) of boot camp. It is basically series of exercises that take place to simulate real battle conditions which at one time or another has actually happened in history. I can say this; Battle Stations lasts about 24 hours!

ADDITION; Since I went to boot camp the Navy has upgraded it’s Battle Stations Training. Check out the new website explaining BATTLE STATIONS 21.

Graduation Day

The night before graduation (actually several times the day before) we practice our moves and marching for graduation. The award winners receive instructions and the RPOC learns all the moves he must make during the half hour to 45 minute event. The event takes place in the drill hall (a large, very old gymnasium) at 9:00 am the morning of graduation. The group changes between attention and parade rest during the event. After the event there is actually coffee and punch. I happily slurped down a cup of Joe with vigor. Back to the ship one more time. Bags on the truck and one last march to the front gate.

Note for Ladies

At least while I was there the girls had a reputation for not being able to work as a team as well as the men. As an example, if your shipmate comes to you and tells you something isn't squared away (done right,) your correct response would be to say "thank you shipmate," and fix it. Everyone around me would get in trouble if my stuff isn't squared away so they are right to tell me when something of mine isn't right.

By contrast many of the ladies of our two divisions could not (would not) take direction from their peers. Their responses were typically "who are you to tell me what to do?" Rather than thanking their shipmate for pointing it out.

Sorry, I know this may make a few of you ladies angry but that is the way it was while I was there, and from my conversations with other former recruits, this is not uncommon. Women have a harder time working as a team in a stressful environment like boot camp. There was even a fist fight between two of the women in our unit. All units had to exercise (were cycled) for 3 hours that night because of it. Do your part, be humble, take direction (even from people you don't like) and you will change this perception.


Singing

There is a lot of singing in boot camp. When the division arrives at chow, they sing to the person in charge of the chow line “division 825 first recruit through the blue works”, and they sing back “aye aye RPOC!” It was kind of cool at first but quite annoying after a while. When we are all seated the last person to be seated sings again a very similar little jingle and the chow line recruit sings in return. Every time the division marches through the tunnel (on the way to the other side of the base) you sing Anchor’s Aweigh at the top of your lungs. It sounded great, was quite motivating and everyone really let loose trying to let the rest of the base know that NPSAC recruits are proud members of the Navy-Marine Corps team.

One of the leadership positions is AROC. I am not sure what that stands for, I think it is Assistant recruit to the RPOC, but anyway they sing cadence wherever you go. I tried to do this at first and failed miserably by going too fast (and I didn’t really know the tune yet,) so i got fired. The division will need more than one person to do this because the voice doesn’t last long singing all the time everywhere you go. Even years later I can still sing Anchors Aweigh without thinking, it gets burned into your brain after hearing it every day.

Our chief really liked to lead cadence (as do most RDC’s.) Though his voice did not hold out. We sang marching songs I had heard before and some I had not. We sang songs that made fun of the Air Force, Army and Marines (all in good fun of course.) We sang songs about how great we were. We sang songs about wanting to go home and only having so many days left. Singing while marching was a highlight for me and helped make marching more bearable. I sang loudly until my voice gave out the very last day.


The camaraderie and the good people I met while I was there I will never forget. I sure hope to meet some of them again someday and I wish Chief McGillem and all our RDC's the best in the Navy Careers. Only the best and brightest get chosen to be RDC's at Recruit Training Command and it shows.




5 comments:

Guy said...

I always wondered what Reserve Boot Camp was like. As a regular recruit back in the sixties, boot camp was 13 weeks long. Since we were in Sandy Eggo, we did virtually all of our stuff outdoors. We were fortunate in that we did our firearms training with real rifles (M-1),. This was a snap for me ,in that I had grown up around guns and was very familiar with them. We actuallt had ti qualify in order to get out of boot camp. This, of course, was during Vietnam and made perfect sense.

Anyway, enjoyed the acccount and best of luck on the deployment. We'll need to talk before you leave.ltjyb

Mr Bob said...

Well, no such thing as Reserve boot anymore. Didn't require enough commitment I think. boot is now 9.5 weeks long...longer if your a screw up and they set you back!

Anonymous said...

It's always great to go back and read journals about Camping trips in the past or even stuff you wrote in the journals not necessarily about the trip but just what was on your mind at the moment. Too bad they don't have the navy reserve boot camp available anymore.

Anonymous said...

I went to Orlando fla. for my navy boot camp. 1982. was on uss peliliu and went west pacs, got a wife from the Philippines...was stationed at treasure island, san pedro and subic, all which are closed, never had a rating, just deck dept. till I got out.

Robt Ball said...

Thanks for your service Anonymous. LIfe was more difficult in the service back then for sure. I am still in and was selecte for Chief in 2010. This week we are training new Chiefs and taking them through their final test which is very similar to Battle Stations.