Friday, July 11, 2008

Letter from the Trenches

This is Emily. I've been begging Doug to keep a journal of his COT experience so he won't forget anything. For the first week, he didn't have a moment to spare. Finally, he e-mailed this for me to post for him. (He has access to a COT e-mail account, but nothing else.)

Commissioned Officer Training (COT) - Montgomery, Alabama

Per Emily I am finally going to write down a bit of what has happened in the last 8 days, which has felt like 8 years! From the moment, yes the very moment we stepped off the bus which transported us from the airport to the COT complex there were people yelling at us. Things moved slow as they in-processed us, but that was because we were the largest group of the year, 311 or so compared to the normal group of 100 or so. The first two days were spent trying to learn how to stand at attention and yell TENCH-HUT! And learning how to march, HARCH! (Commands are made with an H to allow for better projection). The first morning we were awoken with a very loud MTI (Military Training Instructor, the typical drill Sergeant with the round brimmed hat), pounding on our door yelling that we had two minutes to shave, brush teeth and be ready to leave. Oh and it was 4:30 am! (Yes, my first thought was, I need at least two minutes just to brush my teeth!)

Well, basically it continued with waking up early, sitting in classes, running early in the AM, getting a lot of assignments which there is not time enough to complete, feeling stressed, disorganized, tired and discouraged. I tried to keep a lower profile, not sure if I wanted to volunteer for any positions. We are organized into Flights of 15 or so trainees. So we have a flight commander who instructs us and he appointed a Flight Officer In Charge (FOIC). Then in our first class he asked all the captains when we were commissioned. It came out that I had two years on the current FOIC so he made me become the FOIC. Not a pleasant surprise. Good experience most likely, but not wanted at the time (still). So my hard times became harder and more disorganized as my responsibilities tripled. (It’s similar to being a district or zone leader in a mission).

Anyway, after being physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted, we were blessed with a three day weekend. I was able to catch up on sleep and get things organized. I have also successfully delegated a lot of things to my Flight. They have been great. We get along very well and functioned great as a flight. We’ve practiced our drill (i.e. marching etc.) and yesterday impressed our Major. (Our Flight Commander).

So things are going well now. Still waking at 4-4:30 for running. Today we went out to “Blue Thunder” which is a big obstacle course. That was wicked fun. It was better than Survivor. Speaking of Survivor, I feel like I won the challenge on Survivor where they get to see their family. I was able to see Em and the boys today and yesterday.

We have been struggling to get our special passports for them so they will be allowed to fly with me to Japan. It has been impossible to get done, no one ever gives us the correct info and I have NO time to deal with it. We found out I have to be present to do it. It got so frustrating today that it came within a straw’s width of breaking both Em and me. Luckily my Commander stepped up and helped me correlate things with the passport lady, Em, and me. So that is done and we have to wait 4-6 weeks for them (Yes, I leave for Japan in 3.5 weeks.), but they are in and being sent to the State Department tomorrow.

Gotta go to bed now. I have to run at 4:40 tomorrow. I have already done a 1.5 mile timed run for out fitness test and two 5Ks and have another 5K on Friday which is also timed!

To sum things up. Last week was HORRIBLE, this week has been better. I am getting used to saying "Sir Ma'am" a lot and how to march is becoming more natural. Now that the passport situation is taken care of, I think things will be manageable as I focus on COT now and not that other stuff. So I’m doing well now and I think things will only get easier. I am seeing the logic in how things are done. So either it makes sense or they are brain washing me.

The food is pretty good, except we can’t talk while we eat and have to sit at attention while eating. And yes they do yell at you if your feet aren’t 45 degrees with heals touching while you eat! And we have to march through the chow hall in a very specific manner.

Want to share in my fun? Try this exercise: Begin every statement and question with your spouse/friend/etc with "Sir..." or "Ma'am..." i.e. "Ma'am, may I change the channel to Sport's Center?". See how hard it is. (The only time you say Sir or Ma'am last is when it's following "yes" or "no".) Then pretend the person to whom you are speaking will correct you, rudely, if you screw up. It sure makes you talk and question less!

Emily here again. Doug mentioned that he got to see me. Yes, I spent two days in Alabama and they were some of the most uncomfortable days of my life. I thought I had experienced heat and humidity in Rhode Island, but R.I. has NOTHIN' on this place. I was soaked with sweat the minute I stepped out of my car. It was pretty horrible. One day there was a brief rain shower. It was pouring rain, but the temperature didn't dip at all. So it didn't cool anything off, but made you MORE wet and uncomfortable. I feel pretty bad imagining Doug having to run and do drills in that heat! It was physically painful for me to watch these large groups of men and women marching around in heavy camouflage uniforms, outside, when I was sweating inside the car with the A/C blasting. As I've said many many times before, I sure am glad I don't have to do all the hard stuff Doug has to do. I don't love changing poopy diapers, but I'd take that over boot camp any day of the week!

A few more things to note:

Doug was able to go off-base for church on Sunday. Before that, he didn't even have the privilege of leaving his building. I think they've just recently earned off-base privileges. (But believe me when I tell you...there's nothing great going on off-base in Montgomery, Alabama. At least not for a good Mormon boy!)


Nothing was done on the base to celebrate the 4th of July. (Which was a little disappointing.)

That's it! I'll try to keep updating this blog as he updates me!!!
Thanks for thinking of Doug and keeping him in your prayers. We both appreciate it!!!


marissa said...

Wouldn't Jeff love it if I started calling him "sir" all the time! Good luck Doug. Hang in there!!

The Jonas Family said...

WOW, I don't know how you do it. Now I am glad we did not take the military route. We have loans, but we get by and he is just starting his real job!! :)

Foot Handle Pete said...

Sir, that sounds like a royal pain in the bottom.

Stephen said...

Hang in there Doug! You can do it. Steve-O

Sheba said...

Now that I have access to the net again I get to read and experience all this crap about a week or two behind! Why in the helk do they need to yell at everyone? Why do you need to run so much at 4 freaking 30 in the am? And why on earth don't my kids say yes,Ma'am and no Ma'am? And who wants to see a bunch of grown men and women eating with their heels touching? Do you wear the uniform? Does it still look like the guys from Travis afb?