So on the morning of our rifle qualification it was a different companies family day (there are multiple companies training at the same time). Family day is when the graduates get to stay with their families for the day. So there were a bunch of moms, dads, kids and wives wandering around the area. It made me miss my family, all our friends and being at home.
Also the reason why it has taken so long to get a letter sent is because on Wednesday to Friday we were on a FTX (Field Training Exercise) we basically dug fortified fighting positions and slept under our ponchos. It was really not as much fun as it sounds. Some parts of it were fun. We got to do ambushes and counter ambushes with simulator grenades and blank rounds. Our M240 guys also got to do the ambushes. Those things are really freaking loud. They also fire full auto so its interesting running up a hill directly at one that is firing.
We also learned how to do urban room clearing and breaking contact (also known as retreating but breaking contact sounds better). We also practiced patrols in squad formations. Those things were fun but we also got smoked every morning and night in our IBAs, ACHs and FLC (body armor, helmets, and ammo vest) all of it weighs an additional 30 or 40 lbs. So doing push ups in them is not my idea of fun. On the last night we got woken up in the middle of the night because the security fell asleep (he said he was looking at the stars) when he should have been watching the line. Then we got smoked. Fun stuff. It sucks getting punished for a mistake that someone else has made.
Oh good stuff today. We got to fire the M240 and M249 which are the squad machine guns. The M249 is truly an impressive weapon. It fires 700 rounds per minute and the sound alone is enough to deafen you. It has a maximum range of more than 2 miles and a max effective range of 1000 meters. It is insane. It is also so much fun to fire its ridiculous.
As a side note MREs (Meal Ready to Eat) are not that bad. They have some pretty decent stuff in them like spaghetti, beef ravioli, Mexican mac and cheese, and chicken and dumplings. They also usually come with some snacks and desserts. They have this cracker/bread* stuff that they usually give you cheese or peanut butter and jelly which is actually not half bad. I have also had the blue berry cobbler which is decent when you heat it up with the MRE heater. They also have Skittles and Reeses Pieces which are some of the most coveted of all desserts. They also have coffee and matches in every MRE pack. All in all the chow here is not bad. The only problem is you have to eat everything fast and never have any time to actually taste the food. There is also forced hydration where they basically make you drink 3 glasses of water at every meal which I guess is not that bad.
Oh and about Thanksgiving. I don’t think we get any leave for that but we get 2 weeks for Christmas exodus. I am still not sure about the date on that but when I figure it out I will let you know.
Its kind of strange being here. Most of these “men” are still kids. One of them is still 17 (all you need is parental consent to go to basic when you are 17). Most of them are fresh out of high school and barely 18. Some of them I do not even believe are 18. It is like a continuation of high school with some of the immaturity here. A lot of the time I just have to walk away and ignore the immaturity of a lot of the guys that are in the bay.
My battle buddy for instance is 18 and graduated HS last spring. His girlfriend in fact is still in HS and is only 16 (which is kind of strange). Apparently they love each other and he wants to have kids as soon as possible. When I told him to wait and that he may be a little young and poor he said that his parents would probably help him out. I am still of the mentality that we should wait until we are really financially secure. He is not a bad guy though and he is fairly mature but he does need to live a little and get some life experience first. You will probably meet him when you come down here for graduation.
*The “bread” they include in MREs is actually god awful cardboard