Posted on | February 9, 2013 | 35 Comments
At 1440 hours today, telephonic communication was received from Recruit McCain at the military installion where he is being trained as a fearless warrior to destroy America’s enemies. HOOAH!
Concern for operational security forbids disclosure of the training location, although (a) any Army veteran could figure it out, (b) historians would be aware that the site is named for a military figure known as “Old Rock,” and (c) the installation’s namesake played a crucial role in a battle at a famous bridge my son visited often in his youth. Nevertheless, operational security shall be maintained. HOOAH!
Recruit McCain sounded strong and cheerful during the telephonic communication, which was limited to five minutes. The “Snowmaggedon” storm was responsible for the decision to permit recruits this privilege, since many had family members living in the affected region. Recruit’s family is not near that area, but what the heck? HOOAH!
Recruit McCain was informed by his father of the communcation from Uncle Kirby (formerly of the 101st Airborne) that the recruit must not disgrace the family honor by scoring less than “expert” in marksmanship. Recruit McCain replied that, while live-fire training does not begin until next week, he is in the top five of his training unit in electronic marksmanship testing. High-tech Army these days. HOOAH!
It has been a month since Recruit McCain shipped out. Processing at the training installation occupied the first week or so of his duties, so that he has just completed Week Three. Recruit McCain transmits further data via postal communication, written in a special encryption called “chicken scratch” that would baffle any enemy attempt to decipher it. However, I’ve managed to make out a few details. HOOAH!
His wake-up call is at 0430, first formation is at 0515 followed by physical training at 0530. At 0700, they change into ACU (Army Combat Uniform), eat chow at 0730, attend classes/activities until chow again at 1200, more classes/activities until chow at 1730, followed by “clean the company area” — “this is when we get smoked a lot,” Recruit McCain reports — then mail call at 2000 and lights out at 21000. HOOAH!
What does it mean to “get smoked” in training? Extra PT (physical training) ordered at random times or as discipline/punishment. On one military forum, a recruit is advised: “Be prepared to get smoked and do an ungodly amount of pushups for no reason.” In his postal communication, Recruit McCain describes a rough day when the platoon got “smoked” twice, in addition to morning PT. HOOAH!
In one postal communication, Recruit McCain writes that he “just got back from camo (camouflage) class, that was around 3 miles away, that we marched to.” So, six miles round-trip, the marching equivalent of a 10K, but that’s going to seem like child’s play by the time they’re through with him. The final “Ruck March” (in full gear) to Honor Hill is somewhere between 12 and 20 miles. HOOAH!
Recruit McCain writes that he got a bad rope-burn on his hand, but refused to go “on profile” for the injury. The term “on profile” refers to a situation where a recruit is medically exempted from certain types of training exercises, which can delay completion of training. Recruit McCain endured full training despite his injury, is now fully healed and writes: “Profile is a bitch’s excuse to do nothing.” HOOAH!
Recruit McCain’s contemptuous attitude toward weaklings and malingerers must be understood as evidence of his own high morale, a corollary of commitment to excellence. Army veteran Charles G. Hill explains the philosophy of basic training: “Laggards bring down the whole unit, and identifying them quickly is a priority.” HOOAH!
A psychological commitment to completing the mission — that is to say, the mental focus necessary to get through basic training — requires the recruit to develop a certain indifference to hardship, and this should not be confused with callousness or a lack of empathy. Recruit McCain writes that he feels bad for fellow trainees who suffer serious injuries (one guy “blew out his knee” and may be medically discharged), and also writes that he wasn’t the only recruit who was fighting back tears when they got their first letters from home. HOOAH!
In case you didn’t know it, the U.S. military is all about acronyms and “HOOAH!” actually derives from an acronym for the reply to an instruction: “Heard. Understood. Acknowledged.”
The last line of Recruit McCain’s postal communication instructs his father, “Blog about your patriotic son.” HOOAH!