“I will catch a grenade for ya”… After seeing the fire power and explosion of a grenade, I don’t know what Bruno Mars is thinking.
Throwing two grenades is a graduation requirement. I went to the grenade range early in the morning and prepared the simulation grenades before throwing the real ones. I practiced throwing them in different positions. I was pretty excited to get to throw live grenades. The drill sergeants say that the Army these days hardly use grenades anymore. We use different forms of attack. That may be the only time I’ll ever throw a live grenade.
I was in the first group to line up and throw. I had hearing protection and in the bunker behind the firing line. A few people went before me and the shock waves were intense! It was finally my turn and I ran out to the line with grenades in hand and waited for the signal. Once all clear, I pulled the pin and let it rip. I threw it as hard as I could and BOOM! The noise and shock waves were even more intense, being only 25 to 30 meters away. It was probably the coolest thing ever. I’m a bit of a pyro and I love fireworks to death, so this event was right up my alley.
I definitely savored the event, and I hope someday I’ll be able to throw more grenades. I wouldn’t care if it was on a range or on a battle zone, it was that awesome!
Until next time,
After a couple days of trigger time with the M4 due to bad weather, we had to qualify with the weapon. I felt confident enough after only a few live fires to take the qualification table at the range. I also went to an electronic, indoor area to practice shooting fundamentals for the weapon. For qualification, one must shoot down pop-up targets at different distances. There is a certain amount of targets and seconds those targets stay up before they fall back on their own and it counts as a miss. I don’t want to give out every detail because, you know… military secrets and what-not. All-in-all, I passed the qualification table with a first time “Go.” The drill sergeants haven’t told us the number of targets we hit yet, but depending on that number, you fall into different categories: Marksman, Sharpshooter, and Expert. For Expert, I would have to hit just about every target, and I know I didn’t. I’m hoping to receive the title of Sharpshooter.
Now that I am actually qualified with this weapon, I can put that training to good use. This past weekend our company did some urban operation training. The drill sergeants taught us how to work as a team to clear a building of enemies. We worked in teams of six with blanks and plastic tipped bullets to shoot at targets in convexes and makeshift buildings. It was a pretty sweet time that day. It could have been nicer if it was a bit warmer, but that’s the Army for you: nothing is ever easy.
So Basic Rifle Marksmanship is over. I’m both happy and disappointed. Happy, due to the fact I don’t have to be on range detail anymore and load tons of magazines in the cold. Disappointed, due to the fact we won’t be firing live rounds for awhile.
Anyway, I passed the qualification that allowed me to keep training with this company. I’m excited to find out what category I fell into.
Until next time,
Tonight is the last night of week four here in Basic. It’s crazy to think I’ve been away from home for over a month now. I find myself thinking about home several times every day. And I’m not the only one that does that. All of us here are talking about what they’d be doing if they weren’t here. We also talk about what the first things we will do upon returning home.
Here at Fort Leonard Wood we got our first real snow for the winter. My guess is that about three inches or so collected on the ground. And you can surely bet the drill sergeants had all of us privates out there shoveling the sidewalks and pavement around our company. I can’t wait until it warms up here.
Right now we are shooting our weapons to get enough practice in before qualifying in a week. To qualify, you have to shoot a certain amount of pop-up targets. There is a minimum you have to knock down and also, the more you hit, the better your qualification ranking, with expert being best. The drill sergeants say the ones who have never fired a weapon prior to training do the best. I fall under that category, so I am hoping to do really well. Other than weapons training, there isn’t too much going on.
I am down to 190 lbs. so far, which makes me pretty excited. We do plenty of physical training around here. One thing I was looking forward to was getting in shape while I was here. It turns out that my request will surely be granted.
Well we have about five minutes until lights are out and we have to be covered up in our bunks. And it all starts over again tomorrow… bright… and early.
Until next time,
The whole company had post detail and we separated into groups to different parts of the installation to perform different chores. I went with a few other people to the range maintenance area. We helped civilian construction workers build a structure over stations on a new range. We were basically just handing them wooden boards and other supplies. We also went to organize targets and other range materials in the pull barn.
Before everyone left for post detail, they gave us all MRE’s. (Meal Ready to Eat) for lunch. It’s basically a vacuum sealed Lunchable for grownups. Everything you need to eat the meal is included in the package. The MRE I got was a breakfast one: Maple sausage. The MRE’s come with a heating device. This is a bag with a certain type of wrapped chemical in it and when water is added, it heats up to a high temperature to warm the main entree. My meal also came with a chocolate chip Pop-Tart, muffin top, crackers with apple butter spread, coffee grounds, orange beverage mix, and a granola and blueberry cereal. All of this compressed in a little brown package.
There are many types of MRE’s with some tasting better than others. Us trainees like the MRE’s so far because a few different kinds come with candy in them and we would be able to eat it. The drill sergeants despise MRE’s for the most part, because they were the only thing they ate while on deployment.
I’ve had one other MRE so far, but only had about two minutes to eat it for breakfast. I had to eat the beef stew entree cold. I’m still a fan of these meals as long as I get enough time to eat them. I’m actually thinking about buying a few to throw in my truck when I get back in case of emergencies. So concluding my statement, MRE’s are pretty good to eat in my opinion and I can’t wait to have another one.
Until next time,
One of the graduation requirements has been completed this past weekend. I went to Warrior Tower and repelled down a big wooden wall and completed the obstacle course.
The repelling was definitely the best part of the warrior tower. We had nothing but a rope for a harness. There was a certain way we tied the rope to create a tight harness. And when I say tight, I mean I had bruises on my hips the next day. No one wanted the chance of slipping out of it. We all practiced on a smaller, angled tower before the actual thing. Moving onto the huge structure, we had to climb up the wooden rungs all the way to the top. Once up there, it seemed like a long way down, yet I was exhilarated and stoked to repel. I stepped down off the top and took the starting position. The key was to push off and let gravity do its thing. It took me about four or five jumps to repel down. Some not so confident took twice as many jumps. As soon as I hit the ground, I wanted to do it again, but unfortunately, no one was allowed.
The obstacle portion of the warrior tower consisted of climbing up wooden rungs that were far apart, swinging across a rope swing, climbing down a cargo net, and navigating some rope bridges. It was all high up off of the ground and pretty intense. It was surely a strain on the muscles in the upper body. Warrior tower is one thing I will remember forever.
Until next time,
We marched up to the classroom and gained some knowledge and basic information on the Army’s radio system. It is a really high-tech walkie talkie for the most part. There are hundreds of channels and frequencies to set the radio on. I learned the different “code words” and phrases to use when communicating on the radio. We practiced talking on the radios with other tables in the classroom. I found it to be an entertaining class even if it was just covering the basics. The radio is definitely an effective tool when it comes to communication and movement on the battlefield. Of course another key thing to know is how to use maps to navigate.
We used the battalion classroom to learn how to navigate the land features on topographic maps. We also learned how to use grid points on the military maps to plot different places of reference. From there we could measure the distance and asmyth between two points. Next, we learned how to correctly use a compass to navigate to our next point of reference.
Finally, it was time to put our skills to the test. We verified a pace count for one-hundred meters and had our compass in hand. The drill sergeants gave us a starting point and other grid points to follow. Trekking through the woods was really awesome. At each point there was a code on the point marker we had to write down to verify we were there. The group of five of us didn’t exactly hit our points, but got near enough to see them where we were standing after our distance was met.
The terrain was pretty rough in most places. In the woods, there were hills, creeks, and steep cliffs we had to navigate. Overall, it was one of the best activities I’ve completed thus far. Us privates were out in the woods on our own without the drill sergeants. I think that is what us privates liked the most about it.
Until next time,
Last week the entire company took a trip to the gas chamber. We got issued masks called “Pro-masks” (gas masks) and learned how to properly wear them prior to the day of the chamber. We all had them on and looked pretty ridiculous in the classroom. We were taught how to clear them from any gas trapped inside. Before the gas chamber, I wasn’t sure if I had a good enough seal on the mask. I was queasy about the mask actually working. I guess the only way to test it was with real gas.
We marched out to the chamber and got into groups to head in. I was lucky enough to be in the first group so I could get it over with. The gas used was CS gas that is non-lethal. I had my mask sealed before walking in single file. We walked in and shut the door behind us… trapped! The drill sergeants made us do jumping jacks so the gas would get into our skin and pores. I felt the gas first burning on the back of my neck. Next we had to clear our masks when we lifted it up slightly to let gas seep in. Finally, they made us take it off completely to show what it is like to be exposed to gas. It was really tough to breathe and I was coughing. I was gagging and almost ready to throw up. Snot and spit was coming out of everyone’s nose and mouth. We then filed out and walked around flapping our arms like a bird trying to fly to get rid of the gas trapped within our uniforms. Overall the chamber was a great experience and realized I can trust the piece of equipment when and if that time comes along that I have to use it.
I have ordered a video of my whole basic training experience that a company is putting together. It comes with thirty minutes of non-edited gas chamber footage so you will be able to see me in the chamber. I think it will be a good laugh.
Until next time,