On my first Blackhawk ride while deployed to Iraq in 2006.


Basic training preparation

When I signed up for the Army in early 2004, my youngest brother signed up at the same time. We spent the next seven months in an ROTC program, meeting with our recruiter on a weekly basis, learning the basics for basic training itself. The more we knew ahead of time the better off we would be, was our theory.
My brother and I hiked with rucksacks every Sunday. Ran mile after mile day after day so we could get to the required five miles at the faster speed needed for airborne school. We learned how to swim so we would have an alternate form of exercise. We were determined.
My basic training took place at Fort Leonard Wood and while I can’t say I sailed through, all my preparation helped me. I was able to concentrate on the things I found more difficult because my fitness was already there. I entered the military being able to max out on the PT test from day one.
I will never forget the stress of the first day arriving to my unit. I had purchased everything I needed ahead of time, so my bag was precisely packed and rolled to fit every last item from the brown washcloths to the brown towels. I wanted to leave nothing to chance and was advised that the issued items were rather small and afforded little coverage. I had extra running shoes. I had extra toothpaste. I had military-approved shower shoes ahead of time. I didn’t need to purchase anything but the required angled flashlight and camo paint. I however was ill-prepared for the fact that we would have to dump our bags and in a crazy mad rush show item by item what we had so they could weed out any prohibited items. Then we had to pack our duffle bags again - quickly. This bag took me a full hour to pack with precision that five minutes did not afford. I was a soup sandwich in my drills’ eyes!
Later at graduation time I was up for soldier of the quarter - missed that but was able to do all the announcing at our graduation ceremony. My family met my drills and they were told that on day one I was pegged for someone who wouldn’t make it all because of my bag! In the end, I was the one who surprised my drills. I was a squad leader almost the entire nine weeks of basic, only giving that up to become platoon leader for two weeks. I was the “house-mouse” regulating the precisely counted rolls of toilet paper and cleaning supplies for our nine weeks of basic. I never backed down and my being overly prepared ahead of time paid off as it continued on with my excelling in AIT as well.

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