Mrs Pico was feeling left out: she had missed the last three telephone calls from our favorite basic training soldier, so today when PFC Pico called, I let Mrs Pico have the entire conversation.
She has finished Week 5, and her unit moves on to the Blue Phase on Monday. She had missed her marksmanship qualification on Friday, 20 February, because her magazine jammed and wouldn’t feed rounds into the chamber of her M16-A2, but she retested on the following Monday and passed. Unfortunately, if you miss on your initial qualification, the best you can do is Marksman. Still, she had to pass that, and she did.
The bad thing is that, on her practice rounds, she had scored high enough to achieve sharpshooter. The best score she had documented was 30/40. Oh, well, too bad, but I guess that the Army takes the view that combat isn’t fair, so why should they worry about fair in qualifications.
She had noted that in an earlier letter. They were doing combative PT, in groups of four, and another recruit and Autumn were paired up with two girls who were simply not on their athletic level. (She is a B Group runner.) The other recruit and she had to stop and wait for the other two to catch up; she said she could keep up with the other two at a fast walk! She said that her Drill Sergeant was yelling at them, and when they said that they had to stop for the other two, he replied, “Oh, well, that sucks to be you!” and laughed.
Today being Sunday, they got treats: she was definitely happy because they got Mountain Dew! She also likes MREs (Meals, Ready to Eat) because the ones she’s had so far had candy in them: M&Ms and Reese’s Cups.
They’re getting “smoked” (punished via exercise) less frequently now, but they had a thorough inspection the other day. There was a rumor that someone had a cell phone — an absolute no-no — so the inspection was on. No cell phone was found, but the Drill Sergeants found one girl with mascara hidden in her bra; I don’t know if this was the bra she was wearing, or one in her footlocker.
You can imagine that poor girl’s consternation; imagine if she ever had to go into actual combat without make-up!
I checked the Fort Jackson website under “What to expect,” since you’ve entered the Blue Phas now:
The BLUE phase, weeks 6-9, in addition to Army values and physical fitness this phase includes individual tactical techniques, foot marches, confidence course, and obstacle course. The culmination of basic training is Victory Forge, a 7-day field training exercise combining all previously taught basic combat skills. Soldiers march ten kilometers to their designated training site to start the exercise, occupy the position and establish a defense perimeter. On subsequent days, Soldiers complete the Teamwork Reaction Course, execute tactical exercise lanes and a night tactical and live-fire exercises. The last night includes a return march to the unit area and a ceremony recognizing the successful completion of this challenging operation – and the final transformation as a Soldier in the world’s finest Army.
She should have lots of fun with that one!