Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Journal Excerpt: Sports Competition

Continuing the series of excerpts from the journal I kept during Navy Basic Training (Tales of Terror from Boot Camp Hell: Volume XXII), I'm featuring two days. The second one was about my company's "sports weekend" competition which proved to be a huge morale booster (because our company beat the others in our training group for the coveted "Cheerios flag"--which was five gold rings on a blue field, similar to the Olympic rings, but with the rings more in a line like the Audi symbol). Hope you enjoy these excerpts (why experience basic training when I've already done it for you and captured the essence in these entries?).

APRIL 11, 1991 3-1 Day Thursday

Our bunk inspection was in the morning. I worked with Roeller and Rose and we got things done quickly. When time's up was called, we had to leave the barracks to get our ID cards made and to talk about our "A" School.

When we returned to our compartment, I had time enough to polish my boondockers. Roeller also polished his. The inspection results were in and I was pleased to get a SAT. Only 5 shipmates received UNSAT.

CPO Atkinson came in, "ATTENTION ON DECK!!" was called by the watch and we all jumped to attention. Atkinson was merciless--cycling us for about 30 minutes with alternating exercises: jumping jacks, push ups, tricep pushups. When we had to hold in the tricep position for a long time, my arms began shaking and I couldn't hold myself up anymore, so I collapsed on the deck. CC Keenan walked to me, and standing in front of me, he yelled: "You outta win an Academy Award for that one, son!"

That's what he thinks. I wasn't faking it--but I wish I could see how long he could hold out. I returned to the tricep position. When some recruits started grunting in their attempt to stay up, Atkinson told us to lay on our stomachs, then ordered us to pound our hands and feet on the deck and whine like spoiled brats. I could tell that everyone enjoyed doing that, all while acting like we hated it. No matter how humiliating to our manhood, acting like a spoiled brat is better than trying to stay in a pushup position for any length of time.

During the jumping jacks, Rose and Roeller kicked my shoe polish (accidentally), which made a mess on deck. CC Matthews inquired about it later. Fortunately, I didn't get in trouble but the company was angry with me. What can I do? I was polishing my boondockers when "ATTENTION ON DECK" was called and no one has time to do anything other than jump to attention.

Those who passed the bunk inspection earned 4 priviledges:

(1) Right to use the centerboard tables,
(2) Right to use the lounge,
(3) Right to talk, and
(4) Right to receive packaged goodies from home.

Its about time we arned some priviledges around here. Positive reinforcement through priviledges is a better motivation than cycling / strenuous exercises.

At lunch, I felt serious fatigue for the first time since I"ve been here. I was afraid of dozing into my food. After lunch was a trip to Dental with Roeller, Duby, and Mackey. All the dentist did was see if I needed fillings. I didn't so I was out of there sooner than I hoped for. I heard that recruits who have to get wisdom teeth removed get 24 hour bed rest, which is worth it! I was hoping to be one of those. Getting bed rest here is like winning the lottery--a chance to catch up on sleep. A day's vacation from the rigors of boot camp!

I saw Bienvenu limping around. He said that he's getting a medical discharge and seems happy about it.

In the afternoon, we had our Infantry Inspection (where our marching is observed and graded), which we did poorly on. I was behind Frank part of the time and he is terrible at marching! He doesn't do the turns right and I have to ignore him or else he'll mess me up.

The CCs said that Frank is my new bunkmate and I was angry about that decision. Our whole company is angry at Frank and I believe he was dumped on me. The company--all the other recruits are sympathetic towards me at least. What I hate about this decision, besides my strong dislike of that unsanitary idiot, is that I now have to worry about his performance on inspections because bunkmates are supposed to help each other and if one gets SAT, and his bunkmate UNSAT, then the SAT recruit also has to pay for the UNSAT!

I'm worried about Frank's incompetence getting me in trouble. He has problems folding his clothes, and making his bunk. Everyone else lost patience with him and now the company is looking to me to help him. Its obvious to all that Frank has a learning disability. No matter how many times we tell him, he still doesn't get it.

Everyone tells me that he'll be leaving our company soon and possibly the Navy because he's not meant for the Navy. I hope that its true because I have reasons for seeing him get thrown out of the Navy...he's designated to go to Yeoman "A" School and the thought of him as a possible roommate at "A" School really infuriates me.

The CCs said that we run the risk of being "frozen in training" because of our lack of cooperation and effort. What that means is that we will say goodbye to CPO Matthews and PO1 Keenan as our CCs and get new CCs who are Navy SEAL instructors who will turn this place into a Parris Island type of hell. No one wants that, especially not me, since I"m still enjoying this place.

APRIL 13, 1991 * Saturday

Today we received a BIG Morale boost because it was the sports weekend, which was fun and relaxing. We had to do the company 1/2 mile running in formation and then one other event. Our company had the fastest time on the run. Oooo Rah!

There were three categories of competition: swimming, track and field, and the field house. I went to the field house, site of the volleyball tournament, tug-of-war, and the seabag relay. Our company was badly stomped on in volleyball. Tug-of-war was exciting and we came close to losing, but won the first round and lost the second round.

I ran in the seabag relay with 23 others. We had to run 50 years with a seabag of 50 pounds of sand to the guy waiting at the other end, pass the bag to him and he ran in the other direction to hand it to the person who was behind me--back and forth it went. It was fun.

After all of the competitions were through, we had to sing our company song. I didn't know we had one. A couple companies made up their own and one company sang "Lean On Me." We sang "You've Lost That Loving Feeling." That drove the female compoany (K039) wild!

In our training group, it was 4 male companies in competition with each other (C090, C091, C092, and us--C093) while K039 had to compete against each other. What were we competing for? The coveted "Cheerio flag" -- so named because of five interlocking gold rings on a blue field. Our company won the flag and our morale was greatly lifted and because I was considered the lightest, my shipmates lifted me in victory and threw me in an empty garbage can. It was great!

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