At the Nut Bar – Navy Boot Camp

Annapolis Here I come!

 Except that I am little better than a thuggish street urchin and have NO CLUE how to go about getting accepted to the Naval Academy. (You need a Senatorial or Congressional recommendation).

OK then, Officer Candidate School (O.C.S.)! I at least saw these guys marching around campus. But alas, for this too, I am woefully undersophisticated.

NO, it looks like regular old boot camp for me. Still, the military is an important part of my plan, so full speed ahead.

Also got tricked by a recruiter into an extra 2 years I was not planning on originally.

GREAT LAKES NAVAL TRAINING CENTER

Where a Squid can be a Squid.

Boot Camp is a crucible where the raw material of youth is melted down in the fires of sweat and determination and then poured into the mold of today’s greatest fighting machine.

Well sort of. It is really mostly about folding things neatly, eating, marching around, jumping jacks, and classrooms.

The real point of boot camp is to inject routine and discipline into 18 year olds. BC takes whatever sloppy sack of hormones and puppy dog tails show up and breaks them down into a more malleable form. The next step is to build you back up in the fashion preferred by militaries for thousands of years. Stop thinking of yourself as an individual. Start realizing you are part of a whole. Reduce everything to a manageable and efficient routine. Lastly, teach him a new skill set and watch him mature both physically and mentally.

Let’s bounce around in bullet format;

Quit smoking, you wont be allowed to in BC.

Learn to swim, you do have a swim test early on.

No contact lenses for you, everyone who needs them gets thick rimmed Buddy Holly glasses. I cheated of my eye exam to avoid this fate, memorized the letters while the tester was not paying attention. Buddy Holly be damned!

You will be drug tested when you first show up, don’t do drugs right before you leave, you will get kicked out.

You live in a big barracks with bunk beds, 80 men to a company. Two men, Petty Officers or Chiefs, will be your instructors.

You go to class way more than you thought you would, a lot of BC is classwork.

You will be woken up very early that first morning by people yelling in order to scare you, it is scary.

Sleep is important. You will begin to stand watches at night and sleep will become very precious. Be Glad you are not there during winter time, those poor bastards have to shovel snow all night long.

The first thing to really get your mind around is the vocabulary of your new environment. Grasping the words leads to grasping the concepts. There is a learning curve and of course it gets easier. At first you are literally trying to make it to the next meal, later you go from the AM to the PM. Eventually it is day to day and then week to week. By week 5 you are squared away and waiting to finish.

It is a process, embrace it and you will thrive.

 Eat, Eat, Eat, the food is good. I ended up losing weight but not for lack of trying.

You will learn the mechanics of marching (drill). You will suck at it for awhile and then improve.

After sickle cell results come back they start to drill you physically. This varies according to your instructors, but the bottom line is that there are 3 physical tests you must pass in order to graduate. They are increasingly hard, but surprisingly not very hard compared to what you thought you would have to do.

Once you get your uniforms and clothing, you practice folding them, ironing creases into them, and stenciling them. Everyone will get yelled at.

 You will get into that rhythm I mentioned about folding things neatly, eating, marching around, jumping jacks, and classrooms.

Did you think you will shoot guns everyday? No, one time you put a single clip of 9mm through a .45 that has been barreled down. This is one of the key things that I understand has changed since I was in BC. More on that later.

By week 5 you are entering Service Week. The asylum is run by the inmates. The fifth week you are assigned a work duty around the base somewhere. Service Week is a nice break in the action and another thing that has totally changed since I went.

Week 6 you get your photo taken in your dress uniforms. Don’t Smile, you will regret not looking tough enough. I did.

The Gas Chamber is fun. Nowadays with all the accessible riots, plenty of people have been maced. Back in the day, this was a rare treat and something to tell all your friends about at parties.

Now for final Physical Test and final Classroom exams.

The Final PT test for young males is; 54 curl-ups in less than 2 minutes, 46 push-ups in less than 2 minutes, and run 1.5 miles in under 12 minutes. Not exactly Herculean tasks.

You try to increase the prestige of your unit by competing for ‘Flags’. I was in a ‘bug’ company, we did not do very well.

Final Parade muster at Graduation (Pass in Review) is neat. Don’t lock your knees or you might pass out. Hopefully your family is waiting for you.

Go Get that Traditional Navy tattoo kid, you’ve earned it!

Coming Soon, At The Nut Bar Part 2 for memorable moments and lessons learned. Plus you finally get to learn why part 1 was called ‘At The Nutbar’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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