Arriving at Ft Gnome Military base I could feel myself wondering if I had really made the right choice. Once myself and all the other recruits unloaded from the bus our Drill Sargent lined us up for our first inspection. I did not like the way his eyes looked over us, hard and cold and very unapproving of what he was seeing.
After he sized everyone up he started at one end of the line, giving everyone a piece of his mind. I got really nervous listening to everything he was saying to the others. One thing I learned by watching, the more upset you looked the more he tore into you. So I stood as still as possible, no expression on my face and prepared for the worst.
After we had all had our self-esteem smashed into the ground they sent us to the barber shop to have our heads shaved. Then they gave us our new clothes/uniforms for the next 8 weeks and sent us to the chow hall. I prepared for the worst here as well, hearing all sorts of things about MREs and mush that they liked to serve 3 times a day. The food was actually decent and made me feel slightly better about the situation, at least for the time being.
After meal time we were shown to our rooms and told lights out in 30. So we all scrambled to put our stuff(at least the stuff which hadn’t been confiscated) in our lockers, change and hop into our bunks. Our very uncomfortable metal bunks with 3 inch thick mattress that probably dated back to when the base was first established. This was going to be a long 8 weeks!
Our days and nights consisted of us mostly working out and getting yelled at. Drill Sargent seemed to be having the most fun when we were at our lowest. He liked to see us miserable, why I will never understand. But we most certainly were in a living hell. I couldn’t think of a worse place I could be at any given moment in the day.
Even though I had learned the very first day to keep my thoughts and feelings to myself it seemed Drill Sargent had his eye on me, even more so that the others and that made me nervous. I wasn’t sure what he had in store for me, but I knew whatever it was I was more than likely not going to enjoy. I tried not let on that I knew something was up, but it didn’t seem to make him forget me, if anything it seemed to make things increasingly worse.
One day we were given some free time, I decided to work out in the gym. I suppose that had been a mistake because I hadn’t been in there more than 5 minutes when Drill Sargent spotted me and decided I needed a little more motivation. I didn’t know why he felt the need to cut out his own free time by yelling at me, you would think when he had a chance to be away from us he would want to be as far away as possible. At least given the way he always treated us.
As he stood there above me, yelling words I dared not to repeat to anyone. I wondered if he was actually doing this because he LIKED me?! I mean, it was his job to be hard on us, so maybe this was his funny way of showing me he thought I was doing a good job. I tried to block out the yelling as much as I could, which was not easy, but the less I focused on his words the better I worked out and I could tell he approved. In fact I think I saw him almost smile.
The last two weeks Drill Sargent eased up on us a bit. We got into training for other things, like surviving outside, we got to eat those lovely MREs I had heard so much about. They weren’t wonderful but I imagine it was better than nothing. I also got voted into a leadership position, so when Drill Sargent wasn’t around at night I was in charge!
The guys all liked me, but they also respected me and knew that just because Drill Sargent wasn’t around didn’t mean they could clown around and be stupid, but I could tell they were more relaxed with me. We could sit around and talk and laugh with each other. It was those last two weeks I realized I hadn’t made a mistake at all. This was what I was meant to do, protect and serve my country and my family.
Graduation day was rapidly approaching, and I spent a fair amount of time taking guard shifts in the tower overnight so my guys could get some rest. I didn’t mind staying up. In fact watching the sun come up and thinking about Raina and our life together was an ideal way for me to spend my time. I’d have plenty of time to rest once I was home, back in her arms where I belonged.
Finally the day had come we all got to go home. We also got our assignments that day and by some stroke of luck we would all be staying together! Apparently I was right and Drill Sargent did like us! We would be assigned here for at least 3 years and were all given welcome packets which told us how to go about getting settled in the housing and when to report for our first day and such. It was a very exciting day, but for the most part what I couldn’t wait for was to see Raina again. Then it would be completely worth it!
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