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Lost in the Woods Pt.2

by Ryan Kimball 2 months ago in army
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A Boot Camp Story

"It's difficult to be upset about it, and what probably lies ahead because in the end the course of ones life is determined by the choices they make, and I made several while on this path, as a man, knowing the risks and staying the course. People don't rise from nothing anymore, many have lied and cheated their way to success, but it can't be done from the bottom of the heap." (from my journal, November 2016).

Reception Fuckin' blows. It was just after 11pm (2300) when we filed into the lobby and ditched our contraband. Then we had 4 hours of handouts, videos, and slide shows about the itinerary and the do's and don'ts, which I hear have gotten ridiculous over the years. I'm sure if you've been there, you know it's a week of scurrying around from one place to the next just checking boxes. Haircuts, uniforms and PT gear, dental, picture day, shots, paper work etc. Oh and this is also where your shit turns all sorts of different colors from the crap they put in the food. Going from an organic whole foods diet (courtesy of my then unofficial fiancé) to Army food was quite a trip, I'm pretty sure none of us shit solid for almost a month after that. If I've left anything out, it's because it's been almost 6 years and I've drank a lot since then. One thing I remember vividly about reception; I feel like we had the biggest group of dumb fucks ever. One day they ushered us all into an auditorium for a presentation by the Sergeant Major, and within minutes recruits started shouting at each other and trying to pull rank, It was ridiculous. Nobody cared about another enlistees rank because none of them had any military experience, so it was perpetual shouting and posturing until they finally pissed off the reception Drill Sergeant. The guy comes in hot, "What the fuck is going on in my auditorium?!! You privates sit the fuck down, now!!!" The air literally left the room. "So you all think you're a bunch of fuckin hard asses huh?!! In here at each others throats over baby shit!" Snap of a temper, and all order was back. "Alright, well mother fuckers guess what, We've told the other Drill Sergeants all about you on the other side, They're ready for your asses!" Looking around, I knew he struck the nerves of a lot of young recruits that were already questioning their decision to enlist. "So you all think you're big shit? Alright let me tell you a fuckin story." The story that follows is one of the most graphic personal accounts of the Iraq War that I've ever been told by a Veteran. Drill Sergeant Devought described in horrific detail, the day his best friend was killed. He and his buddy were out on a patrol, things had been relatively quiet that day, so it was just supposed to be routine. He and his buddy were walking together scanning the area, and shootin the shit. They talked about there families, their jobs back home, and their future plans. As they traded jokes and joked about home life, in mid sentence an IED went off and blew the top half of his buddies body completely off of his legs. In shear pandemonium and shock soldiers began firing at roof tops and taking what cover they could find. After a couple minutes things settled and the unit realized that they weren't under attack. Sergeant Devought and others, in shock about what had happened, began to search for and collect their buddies body parts. they collected what they could, some of which was found almost 50 yards away. After hours, they couldn't find their buddies head, until one private yelled out. several feet away in a pit, the private found their buddies helmet, and still in it was his lifeless unscathed head. "So, you're hard asses!? If you're in one of those chairs you don't know shit! You had better learn to work together and respect each other, because that's what in store for some of you." It almost doesn't feel right sharing that story, because I wasn't there and to this day I have no idea about the pains of war, but I learned a valuable lesson from his words, one that I carried to training and beyond.

Day zero. By the time reception was had come to a close, we were all ready to just get it over with and get to fuckin training. Whatever peril awaited, most of us were just tired of being bored and anxious. Foregoing fine details, I'll say we filed onto the buses feeling relieved that we were moving on to the next stage, Red Phase. Not all of us were going to the same company, which I was thankful for to a degree; Still, I got to train with some real winners. The bus pulls up adjacent to the Barracks, I was assigned to Bravo Company, 1st Battalion-48th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Platoon. "Bitch ass Bravo" as we'd be referred to later on. I was actually elated by this because In RSP back in Boise I was in Bravo, I liked the familiarity, and consistency. It seemed like a good sign. As we came to a stop the door opened, and a Drill Sergeant rushed onboard enthusiastically. "Grab your shit, and get the fuck off my bus, when you do you will run across this field and stand in formation, do you understand?!! You know the answer. "Get the fuck off my bus!!!" With that we all stood and began to file out in a frenzy. We were all in full OCP's and had two duffle bags, one on our back and one in front dropping from step to step as we hit the doorway of the bus. I was nervous but ready, so when it came my turn to step off I was focused. I balanced my body and the 100 plus pounds of crap on me and leapt of the bus at a dead run. The shouts from our Drill sergeants in my face as I stepped off the bus almost didn't even register. I was used to it. 6 Drills (3 as a guest, 3 active) with the Idaho National Guard would just about qualify you for active duty, because they are some of the toughest soldiers around. So, I ran as hard and fast as I could with all that shit on me, and found a spot in formation. once I did, I finally looked back. The guy behind was prior service (12 years in the Navy), and had been a great source of inspiration and knowledge for all of us during reception. He was 44 years old and got in on a waiver; he rejoined because he had a son in his twenties that had joined the Marine Corps. He fell as he was coming off the bus and tore his ACL. I wouldn't see him again for about 4 weeks.

Shark Attack. There's a Stage set up near the back door of the Barracks, where our 1st Sergeant was screaming obscenities and insults into a microphone, then he introduced our Drill Sergeants as they came out the back door and began to berate us. I was indifferent to it mostly, but a bit anxious. I was mostly just trying to catch my breath from the 100 yard weighted sprint across the field. After several minutes of this we were instructed to reform at the front of the building in our assigned platoon for inventory and inspection. Once each recruit passed the "bag tossing" we were instructed to enter the barracks and go to our assigned platoon bay. As we went in our black duffle's containing our personal effects were tossed into a pile, not to be seen again until we left. We went up the vestibule into the platoon bay, and toed the line, as instructed. Then standing there nervous and sweating, we got another hour of instruction. Finally, our Drill Sergeants began assigning bunks. The start was an awesome thing, but every name until mine was nothing but Charlie Brown nonsense. Suddenly, Drill Sergeant Neville shouts, "Private Kimball?!!" "I snap to attention, and answer, "Yes Drill Sergeant?!!" "Go to 47." he said rather subdued. I paused, confused and trying to process. Suddenly he whipped around, the tip of his hat snapping by my forehead, got an inch from my face and yelled, "Go to 47!!!" "Moving Drill Sergeant!" I exclaimed as I turned left face and plowed through two fellow recruits, knocking one down to get to my bunk. Needless to say, day zero was a long day, and humbling.

army

About the author

Ryan Kimball

I'm an Industrial worker from Idaho. I love nature and all of the arts, but writing is my main passion. At 34, I've already lived an eventful and interesting life. I hope you'll check out my stories and enjoy them. Peace.

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