I remember getting to Atlanta late at night and being greeted by 1 drill instructor at the airport. Then it was a 45 min bus ride to Benning. Stepping off the bus, I was greeted by Cpl Trip and directed into a large waiting room. From there we were led to our bunk areas to drop off our belongings and taken to a midnight chow; hamburgers and fries. But after a long day, it tasted gourmet. Afte we scarfed down the grub it was off to bed, for about 3 hours.
The next few days were merely intaking tasks. Records, shots, briefings and other misc. items. The days were relatively short and fast. It was not basic. No yelling or screaming. Of course, unless you were one of those dirtbags that chose to stand out. And there were a few of them. Evening hours we usually all sat in the large parking lot and listened to a senior instructor try to pump us up. I knew I was all ready to begin training. However, we just had to wait for a company to open up. Finally, after seven days we were shipped to our new home for the next few months, E. Co 1/38. We had loaded cattle cars and drove what seemed like an eternity to Sand Hill. After the trucks came to a stop, basic training started. The yelling and screaming I anticipated, was a reality. The first person I saw was drill instructor Regan. He looked identical to Mr. Clean, with mirrored sunglasses.
As we exited the trucks, names were being called off, and you were directed to certain areas of the drill pad. Four separate platoons were slowly starting to form. I was assigned to 3rd. Roster number 317. 3rd squad. I stood in formation with my newly issued gear watching as a huge black man approached us. Before he even got to us, he was barking for us to empty all of our equipment on the cement and we had 30 seconds. We scuffled like fire ants trying to protect the home as we dumped all of our gear out and spread it around for a quick inspection. By this time two other instructors joined us, SGT Rogers and SGT Rogers, yes we had two. Drill Instructor Jackson was the one barking orders. He was very identifiable by his slight speech impediment. Apparently, he was hit in the face with a hand grenade at some point in his career.
After a quick inspection from one of the three instructors, we packed everything up, just to empty it again. We did that a few times between sets of push-ups and other various exercises. All in all, about an hour, passed and we finally went to our bay. An open bay with 53 bunks. 4 rows of single bunks with large wall lockers at the foot of each bunk. Highly shined floors and that “new” recruit smell. Since we had already been given our roster number, we all went directly to our new space. Mine was pretty much in direct sight of the instructor office.
After a long day of settling in and getting used to Army life, I was officially in basic training. I was pretty excited. The instructors didn’t put any fear in me, even if they tried, and oh they tried. But I just stayed under the radar by doing what I needed to do and not cause them to seek me out. The first week of training included necessary customs and courtesies to survive in the Army and the NBC chamber. The next few weeks were marksmanship and other various infantry tasks, land navigation, bayonet, hand to hand, movement, weapons, and a few other everyday tasks.
During each week we had some sort of test. It could either be on weapons or be qualifying on weapons or maybe even a PT test. No matter what it was, I passed with no issues. Looking back on basic, I never really had any problems other than sit-ups. I have always had a problem with my hip flexor muscles burning out. However, I still passed every time. To this day, no matter what I try, they fail me around the 3/4 mark of any test.
To be continued…