I wouldn’t have survived the basics

Posted 5/31/23

We recently celebrated Memorial Day, and I am so appreciative of the service members who lost their lives serving our country. Just seeing the boots and flags that represented the dead was heart …

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I wouldn’t have survived the basics


We recently celebrated Memorial Day, and I am so appreciative of the service members who lost their lives serving our country. Just seeing the boots and flags that represented the dead was heart breaking. There used to be a live person, at one time, who stood in those boots.  

Kudos also to anyone who has served in the military. I would have been knocked out the first week of basic training. For one thing, the packing list was miniscule, with only sample size shampoo and deodorants allowed. I can use that up in a day or two, which would have left me odorful for the rest of the 8-10 weeks. Recruits going to basic training take a domestic flight and are met by a school bus… A SCHOOL bus.  The only buses I have been on are the motor coaches that transport people during vacation trips, or to Logan Airport from Providence. My extra size rear end would not fit comfortably on the seats, and I would have to hold onto the seat in front of me just to support myself.   Plus, they are so bumpy!  And they stop at all railroad crossings!  And they can barely drive the speed limit!

Once at the basic training camp, I would have been assigned a bed in a room with 19 other beds, with a blanket that would barely cover me and keep me warm at night. I would only have one pillow, which would have a negative effect on my ability to sleep.  (I usually put a pillow over my head, funneling a small breathing space so I do not smother myself. At least I haven’t all of these years.) Using the general statistic that 25% of the population snores, 5 snorers around the room would make it almost impossible to sleep, contributing to 8-10 weeks of exhaustion. Of course, getting up at 5 am everyday would also lead to fatigue.

Communal showering with other women is the norm, which would be super embarrassing except for the fact that only 2 minutes are allowed, and it would have to be done so quickly that there would be no time to glance around at others.  Mealtime also does not allow for socializing because only 10 minutes are allowed to eat.  I would have smiled at others in between bites, not really loving the school cafeteria-like food, with no sweets or my beloved Diet Coke. Basic training would provide a good opportunity to lose weight.

 The first phase of Basic Training includes physically daunting exercise, such as calisthenics. Never having been athletic due to my clumsiness, doing push-ups would be impossible. I would have preferred to just lie on the ground and catch up on my sleep. It is during this time that rappelling and zip-lining would be practiced, 2 activities that would exacerbate my motion sickness.

Learning about weapons and guns is important, of course.  Having to lay on the ground on my stomach with the rifle held up to my shoulder would be a very gawky position.  I would have been so busy trying to balance that it would have been impossible to actually shoot the weapon.

There is also gas chamber training. It is part of the Armed Services “chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear defense.” It involves wearing a suit, boots, mask, and gloves, and going into a locked chamber that fills up with tear gas. Fortunately, unlike actual exposure to chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear poisons, this gas gets shut off after a few minutes. It is not child’s play, and there is a warning not to wear contact lenses into the chamber because the crystals from the gas will fuse them to the eyes.

Even though I jest, basic training is no joke, and I admire anyone who graduated from such a program.  Beyond that, graduates go on to fight for our freedom, putting themselves in situations so much worse than basic training, where the weapon fighting is real and poisonous gases may come at a time when full protective gear is not readily available. Combat injuries abound, and the threat of death is around every corner. Every single person who has served in the military gets my upmost respect.  Thank you!


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