Every once in a while I go through spells where I have trouble sleeping at night. Kind of like mini-seasons of my life where sleep is just fleeting; but only for a couple of weeks.
This is one of those weeks.
Last night at around 2:00 am I should have been peacefully asleep in my bed, but I was not. Apparently my body had its own plans.
Instead I was relaxing in our chaise lounger awake and reminiscing about my days an the Army, and Basic Combat Training (BCT a.k.a. Boot Camp). It’s been 18 years since I joined my class of soon to be Soldiers; as a member of Delta Company, 2nd Battalion, 13th Infantry Regiment; Fort Jackson, South Carolina.
Basic Training is accomplished as several installations scattered across the United States, but that was my home for two months.
After 18 years I don’t necessarily recall the faces of everyone I met at Fort Jackson (this doesn’t include my Drill Sergeants, you never forget your Drill Sergeants); but the emotional states, the shock of being fully immersed into military culture, and the cold January rain-I remember all of that.
That’s why I can relate to the two young Soldiers who appear in the video below. This video was posted to YouTube back in 2013, but it was surprising to see how little things have changed; and how equivalent our experiences were.
True they are a younger generation. True they are female (in the Army we don’t say woman, that’s a civilian word), and true they attended BCT at a different station; but blood runs thicker than water; these young woman are definitely family.
Much like combat, Basic has a way of forging bonds across generational divides.
I wouldn’t go so far as to say I miss Basic, or Advanced Individual Training (AIT) for that matter, but I do miss the brotherhood.
As I was watching this video I couldn’t help but think that despite the similarity in experience, it’s interesting how much our culture has changed.
For example, in my day there was no such thing as a sneak peek at Reception or Basic. There were no pictures available online (online barely existed as a form of mass media consumption). There certainly was no YouTube (YouTube was founded in 2005, hard to believe right).
Your first look at Basic Training came at 3:00 am the day you arrived on station; bleary eyed and totally removed from your element.
Personally, I think the media exposure in this sense is a good thing. It helps to better prepare recruits for the hard training they are going to undertake, and it gives old dogs like me a way to reconnect with my military community.
To wrap this up I’ll just leave you with this: