FTX (Field Training) week 1

November 7, 2009

i survived my first week of field training… woo hoo!! it was hard but not as hard as i was expecting.  I didn’t know how 5 days of no showering, 5 days of port-o-pottys for 600 people, and living in a tent with 38 girls would go… but I made it out alive!

Monday: my day started with pt at 0500 then dropping our bags off at 1030 to be loaded on the bus.  we then went to CIF to pick up our weapons.   as platoon 6 (last platoon) we usually get screwed over on a lot of things… and luckily today we weren’t issued weapons because they ran out 🙂 woohoo. which means that we didn’t have to carry and be responsible for a weapon for a good portion of the day.  we loaded the busses and headed off for the 30 minute drive to Camp Bullis or the FOB. 

When we first arrived at the FOB we broke off into our platoons (58 people for platoon 6) and further divided into our squads (15 people for squad 2).  we started our field experience by figuring out our pace count…  my pace is 67 steps for every 100 meters.  the reason behind finding my pace count is because we have to pass on land navigation.  so if I were to be in the middle of nowhere I can figure out where im at and how to get back to a safe point.  for the test im given a map at 1: 50,000 of camp bullis and I have three hours to find four coordinances.  all you are given are the first coordinance and you have to figure out how to get to the next one by figuring out direction, grid azmith convert to magnetic azmith, figure out meters then aim that direction and walk your pace count till you get there. then when you get to that point, there is another coordinance from that point on as to where your next location is… and the cycle continues.   so, because there are 5 of us within our squad who have never done land nav we “walked the dog” which basically means as a group we plotted three points and walked it to figure out the area and become familiarized with it all.  much needed and very helpful.

 when we got back to the FOB, we had chow and were issued our NBC (gas masks) and moved our A bags (green duffel bag) into the tent we were told to go to.  here is where our night got long and frustrating.  just as us girls were getting situated in our tents we were told to move from 7 (a nice tent) to tent 1 (crappy tent).  so… we moved thinking this is where we are to be.   again, just as we get situated, we are told to move back to tent 7.  Now mind you, I don’t particularly care that we were shuffled back and forth, however our A bags are about 40 lbs each with enough clothes to last us a week out in the field.  In addition to this we had our molly gear (vest with ammo packs and canteens), our assault packs (backpack) which has everything that didn’t fit into my A bag, as well as our NBC masks.   to make matters worse, they decided to just move everyone out of the tents and file into formation with all of our stuff so they could figure out the tent/cot situation.  so, again we moved all our bags and equipment out to the middle of the FOB and for 6th platoon its about 100 meters from the tents.  this process of sitting outside started around 7pm.  At first we waited and waited and waited… finally around 8pm our platoon leaders decided to make our time useful and issued out the weapons. we sat outside till 10 in the cold waiting for them to figure out the number of people male/female and from each platoon.  We finally got word around 1015 to move to tent 1. it was funny cause for a good half an hour none of us girls unpacked anything, we were expecting to get booted again ha ha.  Yes, bed came too quickly and up too soon.

Tuesday: 0430 wake up call for pt.  at 0800 we headed out to zero in at the range with our M16. the first time I went up the instructor came back and asked if I was a nurse, I replied yes…. He goes good… you’ll be a great combat nurse J.  my three shots were all within a dime size area, off to the side but dime sized.  He tried to fix my shooting and then I was all across the board, not within my black silhouette man.    After zeroing we went back to the FOB and had my first MRE Chicken noodles with vegetables—not bad.   

At 1300 we started our classes on warrior tasks.  Basically I learned how to disassemble and reassemble as well as how to do a functions check on both the M9 and M16; I learned how to set up the CINGAR radio (Vietnam era) so really that is pointless but non-the-less important in figuring out how vehicles in a convoy communicate with one another.  and they had a medevac helicopter there with a soldier who just came back from Iraq.  he told us all about the helicopter, what they can do, how they do it, how we should approach the helicopter and what information needs to be said and done in a timely manner.  we also learned how to give out a 9 line over the radio… basically how many injured, what types of injuries, how the landing zone is and where for the medevac, etc.  im beginning to like this combat training… so who knows whats in store for me down the road 🙂

Wednesday: day started at 0700 with breakfast and then off to the qualifying ranges in the morning for familiarization.  we were there from 0830-1500, we were supposed to be there till 1630 and since we got done early they had nothing for us to do when we got back… so we sat around literally playing in the grass.  luckily our squad made use of our time wisely: we got ahold of an M9 so we were able to play around with that and practice functions check, we put together our gas masks, and played around with the CINGAR radio.   

Thursday:  day started again at 0700 with breakfast and then starting our Land Nav test at 0800.  I was buddied up with 1Lt Stutzman who is a nurse and has prior service, but its been since basic that he did land nav so well over 14 years ago.  well to make a long story short, we passed and got all four points (only needed 3 of 4) within the three hours given.  so I was happy with that.  After our wonderful MREs for lunch we had warrior tasks review.  basically our instructors helped us by giving us a “run through” of how we are to be tested on the CINGAR, M9, and M16.  If you can’t tell already… our days seem to be hurry hurry hurry… then wait.  Its kinda relaxing at times, not gonna lie. 

As most of you know, on Thursday afternoon, three gunman went on Ft. Hood and killed 13 and injured 32 (last I heard), haven’t really been updated since our brief; however, about three people in our platoon alone are stationed at fort hood so they were given the time to call home and make sure everything was ok.  the rest of us were given the time to call/text family and let them know that we were ok as well… most often people just hear shooting at a Texas army base aimed at the medical facility and freak out thinking that it was us, so needless to say I had a lot of voicemails and messages when I turned my phone on.    well just to let you know, im okay, I was two hours away from Ft. Hood.

Friday:  day started at 0445 with pt and then from 0800-1100 we had FOB cleanup: sweeping/cleaning of tents, trash cleanup, chow tent cleanup, etc. after a lunch of MREs we started our ruck march of 3.5 miles to the beginning of Camp Bullis on the Air Force side.  We wore our Molly and carried our assault packs.  For walking a company of 600+ personel, we walked the ruck in 1 hour 15 minutes…  man we were sweaty.   And like always…. Hurry hurry hurry then wait became the rest of the days motto.  We sat out in the sun for a good 1 ½ hours waiting for enough busses to come pick us all up.  Because 6th platoon didn’t have to turn in weapons we boarded the first busses so that we could empty out the trucks that were bringing each platoons A bags…. However, in true army fashion, nobody left keys for us to unlock the truck so we sat for 2 hours waiting for the keys to get there… then we unloaded all 400 bags.  this ended my army day around 1830.  After that it was heading up to our rooms. For having no showers, using porto-o-pottys, and the only source of clean came from a baby wipe…. a nice twenty minute shower was due.  then it was off to P.F. Changs with the about 9 other girls for a much needed big hot meal… and at 2300 we were all pretty beat tired and headed home.

… now time for laundry and repacking so that Sunday night our trucks can get loaded for our next week…. thank the lord it’s a short week (only 4 days out in the field) woo hoo!

ill post pics in another blog   🙂

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