The Christmas Season Comes to Camp Murray

FRIDAY, DECEMBER 9
“So, where’d you say you were from again?” I was forced from my rouse by the husky voice of a fellow soldier. I rubbed my eyes open and I was greeted with the wonderful vista view of bumper-to-bumper traffic on I-5. Looking down at the roadway I saw a young girl playing with her doll in the back seat of a brand new Subaru Forester. She looked up at me and held up her doll, smiling with her big invisible front tooth. I smiled back and held up my thumb. The vehicle disappeared into the throng of holiday migrants.
A public transit, which had managed to maneuver itself around and through the mass of multitasking motorists, pulls up alongside me. “‘Veteran’ and ‘homeless’ should never be used in the same sentence,” the advertisement on the side of the transit was taunting me.
I turned from the traffic and breathed a long sigh. The gray monotoned interior of the military transport felt like a calm and peaceful retreat in this world of random and aimless holiday hysteria.
“Hey man, you awake?” the voice says again. “You’ve been out since we left Alderwood.”
I turned to him.
“Yeah, yeah. Whidbey Island,” I responded groggily. “Thanks for waking me up.”
“No problem dude.”
Camp Murray, Washington. Home to the Bravo Company, and the WARNG Recruiting Command.
“Get your ID’s out!” the unmistakable, jaded, and cynical tone of our Sgt. Bus Driver wafted over my head as we pulled into the security checkpoint.
As I reached into my pocket, my eyes fell on the tank that guards the entrance. It’s been filled with lead and mounted on a twenty foot pedestal, but the idea is still very inspiring and patriotic. The lost patrol still guarding their homeland.
Building 33, my drill floor for this weekend.
A large Christmas tree stood by the north wall, reminding me of the peculiarity of this special season. Underneath the tree there were stockings filled to the brim with gifts – none of which were for us.
“Hey, that’s a nice touch,” said Private Moore.
“I wonder who those are for?” I asked.
“No one we know,” said private Hulka.

SATURDAY, DECEMBER 10
I woke up to the repetitive hounding of a hand upon the bottoms of my feet. The mercury lighting gave me a headache.
I jumped down to the floor and slipped on my PT uniform and canteen, and ran outside.
Army PT (Physical Testing) is held using the 2,2,2 method. This means a 2 minute push-up test, a 2 minute sit-up test, and a 2 mile run. New recruits who have not gone to BCT/AIT are required to complete the 1,1,1 (1 minute, 1 mile) for enrollment in the Army.
This all sounds fine on paper, but what they don’t tell you on paper is usually what matters in the long run. The fact that, for instance, the PT is always held before breakfast. PT is always held regardless of weather. PT is always performed according to the regulated PT uniform.
My NCO says that the army is a lot like ninja training, and he tells me this so that I may enjoy the process of becoming stronger. Sometimes I just can’t seem to see it the same way. I do love it though.
After a short march from the Barracks to building 33, the push-up test began. The tree was over in the corner, laughing at me as I struggled to keep up with the pace. 36 push-ups in a minute, I need to work on that.
I also need to work on everything else, but who’s counting? Oh, yeah… EVERYONE.

The main drill event this month was EST (pronounced ‘east’). We took the bus over to Fort Lewis. EST is a lot like an FPS video game, except it is designed to replicate the actual weight and kick of a real weapon, without the dangers associated with giving loaded automatic weapons to dim-witted civilians. It also eliminates the use of heavy metal and gunpowder.
For someone, like myself, who has never fired a military issue M-16 before, the kick can be incredible.
“Feel the weight of the weapon and let it mold into you. Let the weapon become a part of you. Do not be afraid and do not be nervous. The weapon is your friend and it is your tool. Let it speak to you now, as you load the magazine into the chamber,” said the Range Master, an old DOD guy who was in the Marine Corps for 20 years and won 2nd place in the national sniper competition when he was younger.
Trying to hone in on a target 200 yards away is incredibly difficult using any method at all. The first target popped up – nailed him.
I also learned how to disassemble and reassemble an M-4 in 60 seconds, but I never really succeeded.

As my last drill before I ship out, I was treated to the movie Tears Of The Sun after a delectable dinner of MRE’s and TOTM’s. What a day.

SUNDAY, DECEMBER 11
After a lot of burpies (100) and some push-ups in Building 34, Captain Whitehall celebrated by racing us to the door. I took a slow jog to formation, where we were smoked out because we needed to clean the barracks before we left.
After the last paperwork session with Sgt. Thomas and Sgt. English in Building 34, I joined the rest of Blue Phase and marched back to Building 33.
The rest of the day was spent celebrating family and eating good food.
I am really looking foreword to BCT.

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