Everyone remembers stepping off the bus at Lackland Air Force Base, Naval Station Great Lakes, or at any of the several military training locations on the first day of basic training. You’ve heard the stories and seen the videos that gave you some insight as to what you’ve gotten yourself into, and yet you have no idea what to expect.
- You’ll miss home more than you thought possible; mostly, the little things. I can’t tell you how many times I stayed awake dreaming of my favorite pizza place and their strawberry lemonade. You’ll think fondly about your bed, secluded shower, and watching T.V.
- You’ll forget the bigger picture at least a few times. You’ll think about your friends and how they’re going to college or enjoying spring break while you’re marching to class in 90-degree weather.
- You’ll attend church no matter what your religion is. It’s a chance to get out of the dorms and into a stress-free group environment. There are still rules, but no training instructors. It’s a great place to relax and relieve some built up tension.
- You’ll make new best friends. I’m still in contact with people I went to basic training with. When you go through such a difficult time with someone, the bond you create is everlasting. You’ll never forget the members of your flight, whether you loved them or hated them.
- You’ll accomplish more than you ever thought possible. In 8 or 12 short weeks you’ll prove things to yourself that you never imagined. You learn how to shoot a gun, complete a massive obstacle course, survive in a fake deployment zone, and those are just the physical aspects. You’ll attend classes where you’ll learn about the military and rank structure. You’ll even find a way to share a bathroom with 50 or more people.
- You’ll be constantly terrified- for the first couple of weeks. You’re never where you should be, you don’t know to the questions instructors are yelling at you, and you haven’t slept well since you arrived. Fear is what keeps you awake when you can barely keep your eyes open.
- You’ll be a pro by the last two weeks. Everyone does it; you get the “fancy” dress uniforms and have more freedom (not much, but more than you had) to walk around. You’ll see “newbies” get off the bus and be thankful you never acted like that.
Service members talk about their basic training stories the way mothers talk about childbirth. No matter how many years it’s been, they remember every small minute detail. They remember the pain and suffering, but also the accomplishment and joy at the end.
Some mornings, I walk outside and I can smell basic training. The smell immediately transports me back to 5 a.m. where I did physical training (PT) before the sun came up. It’s a big mixture of the smell of early morning dew, a bunch of trainees running together, and breakfast being prepared in the chow hall.
Like most challenging times, you’ll look back and wonder why you were so afraid or scared and think “that was easy.” You’ll tell people, “If I can do it, you can do it,” whether it’s true or not. Even though basic training has changed so much, even since I went through it eight years ago, the feelings remain the same. The camaraderie and friendships will last through your enlistment and probably even longer.
Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.