Letters from Basic Training – April 18, 2004 – Part I

18APR04

Dear Mary Beth,

[…] Time is coming soon where I can see you. Me and some of my buddies are trying to get everything set as far as plane tickets and hotel rooms and rental cars … One of my friends, [Davis], had to write a letter to his girlfriend telling her he had a kid by a previous girlfriend that he just found out about when the ex gf died. But she [the current girlfriend, not the dead ex, I presume] still wants to be with him, so that’s good.

We had another peer review and I was #5, which I was happy and surprised about because I had what I felt was a bad week, especially falling on that damn march. [Guess I’m missing a letter, I don’t remember this]. But my ankle feels way better, which is good, because tomorrow we have a fitness test.

I am on a double shift of CQ duty, manning the company desk. Today I was alternating waxing the floor and writing a letter to my aunt and uncle (the ex-marine). [haha even then I knew they’re supposed to be called Marines, never ex-Marines or “in the Marines”] I volunteered for the extra shift so I could write more of this letter and so I could miss the line for chow. What happens then is the guys who we are filling in for run ahead to eat with 1st Platoon. They eat first and rush back and then we get there somewhere in the middle, so we can take our time eating.

[Layton was a master of the chow hall. Usually we didn’t have anyone on CQ, but 2 guys had to guard the weapons. As stated above, two guys would eat first and run back to relieve them so the original guards could eat. Layton was the first to realize that being “weapons guard relief” sucked, even though you ate first, because you were under constant pressure from the drill sergeants and other troops not to take to long. The drill sergeants went through first and you’d no sooner get your chow scooped before they’d start harrassing you to finish and not be a “buddy-f*cker”. Layton was extremely adept at calling “Weapons Guard, Coach and Layton” at precisely the right moment — too early and you’ll be contested, too late and someone else will take it. We’d hang out alone in the bay, goofing around until the relief arrived. Then we’d meander over to the chow hall (this is one of the only times privates are allowed to walk around in a small group) and take our time eating. By the time we’d get there, the last platoon would be finishing up, and we’d dawdle until the next company’s drill sergeants started giving us suspicious looks. What a great battle buddy he was!]

Yesterday we had battalion staff duty, which is in an actual office, not just a desk stuck in the middle of a concrete floor [CQ]. I told you about it before – we get to use the radio and the telephone to relay messages. Well, usually we get it in the middle of the night, but this time we were there in the afternoon and we saw a lot of soldiers and their families and it made me think of you. But I had to make a radio call [to our drill sergeant] “Mailed Foot One, this is Mailed Foot Base, over. (then the message)” And at the end, Layton pokes me and says “Say ‘Thank You!” and, because he looked so urgent, I said “Thank you…out” and he collapsed laughing, because you are not supposed to say thank you on the radio. So all my buddies laughed at me because they were there when the drill sergeant [Swartz] took the call. He was mad at the time, [“Who is that? Coach? What an idiot!”] but had forgotten about it when I got back. It was still pretty funny though. [What a crappy battle buddy he was!]

[to be continued]

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