Letter From Basic Training – March 23, 2004


Dear MaryBeth,

    How are you?  I’m sicker and sicker and going to sick call tomorrow.  We hiked 2 miles with our our gear today.  It was a little chilly in the morning but I liked it.  The kids from California and the South all bitched.  Then we took classes on using a radio, and then we did a course on land navigation with a compass and a map.  Then we got viciously smoked for talking in the bleachers afterwards.  We did pushups, flutterkicks and tons of rifle PT.  Raising a 12 lb rifle over your head isn’t bad until you do it 200 times.  Ask Ty [guy I used to work with who was in the Army briefly].  Then we marched back.  After that, pretty much nothing, but by the time I tied my knot for rope climbing, got my mail, took a shower and shined my boots, we had a formation and now its lights out, so I’m writing this by red light.

    Today when we were walking, my drill sergeant said, “Hey men, did you see Eagle Range?”  And we were like, yeah, why?  He said it used to be a golf course and he would have sex with his future ex-wife there when he was in Basic and he would go to “church” on Sundays and meet her there.  This is Drill Sergeant [redacted], the mean one. He can be funny sometimes but usually he’s a prick.  All the drill sergeants are about 30ish and they all were in he same platoon, in the same bay as we are, which is kind of like teaching at your old high school.
    We are all so hungry right now.  They feed us well for breakfast, lots for lunch, then a tiny bit of slop at 530.  Kids try to take each others vegetables if they don’t eat them and by 10, all anyone is talking about is foods they want.
      I was going to tell you how the Army ripped us all off.  It’s not the end of the world for me, but some guys got really taken.  Remember how we bought all that stuff for me to bring?  Well when we went to the PX, the sergeants at Reception told us we had to buy certain things like toothpaste.  A lot of guys were like “I already have that” but they made them buy it anyway.  All the stuff, and it turns out that there are no required items, they are not allowed to tell you that you must buy anything.  And the running shoes.  Some kdis shoes didn’t fit and they had to buy new ones.  They also were supposed to offer different priced options, but they didn’t.  That’s where the bastards got me.  Mine are nothing special but they cost $73+tax, the most expensive pair in the store, and I had no choice.  Our drill sergeants sent a letter to their commander and investigators are coming to talk to some of us.  I guess this is an ongoing problem and they are saying there is some kind of scheme involving AAFES, the company that runs the PX to get new soldiers to use up the entire $250 advance on the card they give you, becasue otherwise it goes back into your bank account.
3/18  Your work sounds hard.  I could never do that with all of those bacteria and precision work.  I think I would go crazy, but I enjoyed your description and diagram.  Overall, I enjoy Army life, well not really right now, it is supposed to suck, but I know it will get better as we get our freedoms back.  Now that we moved I do have the bottom bunk, which is good because I had the top for 1 [week – in Reception] and the bottom for 14, Layton got it the other way around.  And no more living out of bags.
    I have to go, I’ve been so busy the last few days, and I still have 2 1/2 more days of your letters before I’m caught up. 

P.S. The good news is I made over 1000 dollars since I got here.

[With little to no expenses, you should be able to save a significant amount of money in basic training.  In fact, you should be able to save a ton throughout your Army career if you’re careful.  Or you can do what most people do, live paycheck to paycheck and squander it on fancy cars, gizmos and strip clubs]


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