Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Reflections on an Ill-fated Military Stint part 2

So, there I was, in front of the Navy recruiting office. I chose the Navy because I knew their boot camp was not as rough at the other branches of the armed services and also because I knew the Navy rarely saw on the ground combat. I began discussing with the recruiter what I wanted. I had not taken the ASVAB in high school because at the time, I never dreamed I would enter the military.

Within a two weeks' time, I had taken the ASVAB, chosen my vocation (based on where I wanted to go rather that what I would like to do) and was shipped off to boot camp. At the time I was just within the weight guidelines and made the height requirements because the recruiter lied and said I was 5' tall. In actuality, although I never admit it, I am 4'11 3/4". I did well on the ASVAB so I had my choice of careers and should have picked something better suited to me. I wanted to go to San Diego so I chose a training school there, Interior Communications Electrician. There was a problem, I was terrified of getting shocked. Not a good vocation for someone with that phobia.

At 22, I arrived in Orlando, Florida on an early January morning, as the second oldest in my squad. I044, that was us. If I never mentioned this, I was always a good girl and my parents rarely had to yell at me. Well in there, everyone yelled at me. Being the emotional girl I am, I cried every day of boot camp. With the exception of the day we got to shoot guns, that day I shot 29 out of 30 targets. Pretty good for never picking up a gun before. Must have been all the training at Duck Hunt on the Atari.

I made it through, lost a lot of weight and 5 inches around my waist. Looking back, my boot camp memories are a blur of pushups, running, shots and the gas chamber. Of carrying a flag, marching and writing letters. Of men yelling, rude awakenings and friendship. I was in a integrated squad. My bunkmate was a man. Although at night we (the women) went next door to sleep while their men slept in our room. Everyone there seemed to know exactly why they were there and what they wanted to do. I couldn't wait for it to be over so I could go to San Diego.

To be continued...

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