Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Journal Excerpt: Finding Time for God at Boot Camp

Continuing with this special series to commemorate the 19th anniversary of my Navy Basic Training experience, today's entry reflects our "slowest day" of the week during Boot Camp. The company was free to attend a variety of church services on Sunday morning (I attended four different ones: LDS the first week, Protestant Contemporary, Islam, and Catholic Contemporary), or to hang out in the barracks (great time to have actual conversations with our fellow recruits or to catch up on letter writing or studying). The photo above was found in a Google-image search. That was the base chapel at RTC Orlando. Its a funky looking building--one you can't miss when you're marching on one of the many sidewalks on the base.

April 7, 1991 * SUNDAY

When I woke up, I found out we lost an hour of sleep because of Daylight Saving Time. Last night, I wrote Missy an 8 page letter which I will send today.

After breakfast, I wrote a letter to Rachel Holmes before going to church with Roeller, Bienvenu, and Holloway (who was on crutches). I decided to see the Catholic Contemporary services with my Catholic shipmates. The service was very similar to the Protestant Contemporary service in terms of songs sung. The major difference was the Catholic sign of the cross over one's chest gesture. The choir sang "The Rose" and "The Wind Beneath My Wings" (which brought tears to my eyes). They also sang "The Impossible Dream." We sang "Voices That Care," "America the Beautiful," "God Bless the USA", "Lean on Me," and "Kumbaya" (which reminded me of "Troop Beverly Hills" for some reason).

The last two songs were sung by companies on their last Sunday at Boot Camp, so they got to sing "No More Boot Camp, No more Boot Camp, hey hey hey goodbye!" (to the tune of "Sha na na na, hey hey, goodbye") and another one about leaving Boot Camp to the tune of "New York, New York."

To hear and sing these uplifting songs gives me the strength and inspiration to survive another week. Music was the one thing I hated giving up in coming to Boot Camp and it has been a great surprise to learn that music is alive and well here in Boot Camp, from Church services on Sunday, to occasional meals in the galley, to even the cadence calls.

Because church got out late, we had to go to stragglers chow since our company was already there.

In the galley, I saw a pretty blonde girl who looks a lot like one of the most beautiful Bond girls: Maryam d'Abo. I saw her again at supper and it is love at first sight! I'm so glad I was sent to Orlando instead of my desire to go to San Diego. The presence of women here is enough to life spirits -- especially a beautiful one like this one. But as I've heard others say, the women get better looking the longer we're here.

Tensions are building between the recruit staff members and recruits. Felicilda almost lost it and threatened violence on Parker. The company had a discussion it. Our biggest complaint is an unorganized and un-self disciplined staff who order us to do things while they goof off. Byars and Mackey finally made a peace settlement.

The recruit staff members yelled at us for not cooperating with them. We have too many people trying to do one job and it leads to chaos. They need to organize a schedule for who does what.

I don't like Felicilda because of his quick, explosive anger and threats of violence. He already threatened to use violence on five people, including Frank. He was impatient trying to teach Frank how to fold clothes, so he just told him to do it or else get beaten up.

Most of us decided to avoid Felicilda. He claims to have been in a gang before joining the Navy. When I first saw him, I immediately thought, "he looks like a killer." He rarely smiles and glares at people with cold eyes. He's definitely not a favourite in this company.

We had bunk drills with only one sheet. When CC Keenan came to Frank's pillow, he was disgusted by what he saw. It has yellow stains on it from his saliva spitouts. According to the unfortunate shipmates who sleep near his rack, Frank spits out on his pillow at night. Gross! Our company has pretty much given up hope on him. He doesn't know how to take care of himself and pretty much everyone is digusted with him. Its easy to feel sorry for him because he doesn't seem to have it within himself to do good and we can only help him so much. Most of us expect that Frank will be set back in training.

During our locker drills, I had to borrow Nelson's dungarees since both of mine were in the wash.

Keenan was in a bad mood and I feared that we would "head down the Atlanta highway, looking for a love, love getaway..." (our CCs love to make us cycle to the B-52s' song "Love Shack").

While waiting for inspection, I made two weird coughing noises.

"Who did that?" Keenan asked.

The room was silent and some recruits knew it was me. Fortunately no one ratted me out nor did Keenan apply pressure for me to confess by punishing someone at random. That was close! Its not like I did it on purpose.

Keenan checked everything in our locker 10-pack, including the stencils. Fortunately, he only inspected the port side and didn't check our side (starboard). I was relieved, since I had Nelson's dungarees in my locker with his name stenciled on them. I was saved from being busted twice today!

I again volunteered to go on a sweep detail of Delta 1, just to get out of our compartment. Grubbs joined our group today.

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