Tag Archives: Navy boot camp

You’ll Hear From Me In A Month, Mom

As I write this, my 18-year-old son has been at Navy boot camp for about 10 hours. (Maybe 11 ”” I don’t do well with timezones.) I got the scripted phone call yesterday at 9:08 pm. “I’m supposed to tell you I got here, you’ll get a box from me next week, and you’ll hear from me again in about a month. And I love you.” He sounded confident and strong. Maybe a little nervous, but that could have just been my ear.

Because I’m a Navy mom veteran now, I know the box is what we call the “Kid in a Box.” It contains everything ”” down to his lucky boxers ”” that he had with him when he left home. I picture them standing inside the box, stripping down, then stepping out naked and shivering before they slip on their boot camp clothes.

He’ll be there for about two months before he graduates. After graduation, he’ll leave Chicago for San Antonio for a couple of months for his training to be a Master at Arms, a Navy cop. He’ll have so many options after that, from Counter Narcotics (which I don’t think has anything to do with retail sales) to K9 units to Counter Terrorism (again, nothing you can buy) to Fleet Protection Force. Very heady stuff for someone who just earned the right to buy a cigar.

We had dinner with him the night before he left and tried to cram in 18 years of advice we might have forgotten to tell him along the way.

He’s kinda following in the footsteps of his older brother Adam who has been in the Navy for a year-and-half, except he is a corpsman ”” Navy medic ”” stationed in Okinawa.

When Adam left, I was more afraid of the unknown, but with Jeff, I think I’m more nervous about what I DO know.

Some of the things I thought I knew about the Navy have proven to be untrue. For instance, I pictured the young enlisted guys as being in a protective bubble of Navyness. But the reality is that the Navy treats them as the young adults they actually are, free to make mistakes ”” big and small ”” and take unfortunate risks.

I probably wouldn’t know much about that part of Navy life except that Adam divides his time between working at a fire station on the ambulance crew and in the ER in one of the base hospitals.

He had a rough couple of shifts over the July 4th holiday. One of his patients was a fifteen year old who drank so much that “his brain forgot how to breathe.” I asked what they did and he said, “We tried to breathe for him.”

Another patient remembered driving himself to a bar, driving away from the bar, and being in the ambulance.

Two patients were ginormous, combative Marines who had to be chemically as well as physically restrained before they could be treated for their drunken injuries.

All of these young men will face severe consequences from the Navy and from their mothers. My heart breaks for everyone involved, but I’m so proud they had Adam to take care of them. I know it affects him, as it does all ER workers. How could it not? I hope he continues to share his work ”” the funny stuff as well as the tragic ”” with us and with other people and that he’s able to keep perspective.

He’s a confident, competent, generous and warm-hearted person, both with his patients and with his family. Especially his younger brother. Jeff is lucky to have him to answer his questions about boot camp, solicit his advice about Navy stuff, and as a confidante.

Honestly? I’m not sure how I feel right now. It’s hard to see the last little baby bird fly away, but I’m not exactly unhappy about it. I know he’s been looking forward to this adventure for a long time. Frankly, it will be nice to have only the two of us non-risk adults on the auto insurance. I can’t wait to buy half as many groceries every week and not have anyone say, “There’s nothing to eat around here ”” only ingredients.” I’m looking forward to not having to keep up-to-date on his constantly-changing social schedule. And the whole spare bedroom thing? I’m all over it.

I stood today in his newly emptied room. Bed made. Furniture dusty. Floor needing vacuuming. I looked at the things he left on a single shelf. Samurai sword his brother sent him from Japan. Obama button. Eagle Scout medals. Belt buckle collection. Bottle of Jones root beer specially labeled with a picture of his friends.

That was his life last week, but this week it’s altogether different. And so is mine. Neither of us will ever be the same.

I know I’ll miss the little boy who, while packing up his room, found a box of Star Wars action figures and played with them for two hours. He’d just seen Toy Story 3 and felt bad for them. And I’ll definitely miss the little boy who, just a few nights ago, wanted to watch a Disney movie to cleanse his palate after watching an über-scary one.

He’s a man and a child.

May God protect him out in the world.

Bravo Zulu, son. Be safe. Be smart. Bedazzle.

ps ””I’ve written lots about my older son’s experiences ”” and mine ”” as we started our Navy journey together. In the sidebar you’ll see a “Navy Bits” category with all the posts. Scroll to the very first page. Also, if we’re Facebook friends, you can read his letters home from boot camp in my “Notes” section. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll feel like hugging your children. Friend me but send a message with it that says something about the Navy. I don’t friend just anyone!

Seven Months

If I told you how many people visit my blog specifically to read about the damage I inflicted on my pinkie toe, you would shout, “YOU LIE!” on the floor of Congress and collect scads of money from my opponents.

Seriously.

So here’s an update.

It’s been almost seven months since it looked like this …

Becky's broken toe copy

Do know what can happen in seven months?

• A kid can go through Navy boot camp, graduate from Hospital Corps School, and get all settled in Okinawa.

• Whitney Houston can earn some kind of record for not changing out of her pajamas. (It’s unofficial, but I think I might have her beat. She has so little, though, I’ll give her this one.)

• You can serve your term in federal prison for bilking more than $10,000 from a program to help people whose homes were damaged by Hurricane Rita.

• If you’re India, your gold imports can plunge 29% as rising prices cool jewelry demand.

• You can break every single one of your New Year’s Resolutions many times over.

• You can gestate a baboon, several chickens, a tiger, a muskrat, a porcupine, a rhesus monkey, a chinchilla, a kangaroo, a red fox, an opossum, a puma, a parrot, a lion, a tiger AND a bear ….

But your toe would still look like this …

toe on 9-10-09

“Why don’t you care about my toe yet?” she whined.

Okinawa Bound

My son leaves today for Okinawa. Two years he’ll be gone.

He doesn’t know exactly what he’ll be doing but he’ll be working at the Naval Hospital there. He’s heard a rumor that because he has his EMT certificate, he may get to work in the emergency room for his regular job and when he gets assigned duty he might be driving an ambulance. That would ROCK!

Regardless of what he does, though, I know he’ll be an entirely different person when I see him next.

I got all maudlin when he left for boot camp and needed Abba to help me through.

Honestly? It might happen again. But I feel more under control now, stronger, smarter.

Why, you ask?

Boot camp, for one thing. I learned so much about the Navy while he was there. Corps School for another. I learned so much about him during the three months he was learning to be a corpsman. (I suspect he did too.) And as you know, knowledge is power.

There’s also the fact that my youngest has already sworn in on the Delayed Entry Program and will be joining the Navy too just as soon as he graduates from pesky ”˜ol high school.

So I feel very much the Navy Mom these days.

I think, too, that the unknowns are more known now and his real adventure is beginning. He gets to do a job he’s trained for and has been excited about for a long time.

It’s hard to feel sad when the baby bird flies away to do what he wants to do in an exotic, beautiful locale. As long as said baby bird remembers to email and Skype and help his mother plan her trip to Japan, that is.

Bravo Zulu, boy. Your life is really beginning. Be smart, be safe, bedazzle.

Okinawa Bound

Man Your Battle Stations

My son’s Navy boot camp experience is coming down to the wire ”” only about another week-and-a-half ”” so I thought this would be a good time to post some interesting boot camp video I recently found. It goes into more detail than what I’ve seen before.

Part one …

[youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CdHt56NdERo]

Part two …

[youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iYREP-35Ylk&feature=related]

One of the last remaining training exercises for his Division is something called Battle Stations. For 36 straight hours, the recruits use what they’ve learned so far in boot camp to solve simulated disasters, all based on actual Navy emergencies, like the attacks on the USS Cole and the USS Tripoli.

When they pass this milestone in their basic training, they get to exchange their “Recruit” caps for “Navy” caps. They’re exhausted and proud and it’s a very emotional ceremony for them.

I think my son’s Division is going through Battle Stations beginning tomorrow night, so, in his honor, here’s the Battle Stations video too.

Do you think you could do it?

Yet MORE Boot Camp Lines

I hope you’re enjoying these. I know I do. But after yesterday and the day before AND the day before that, alas, I’ve run out.

Enjoy one last batch ….

“Get yer @#!$%^ knees off the deck, this ain’t the @#$%^& Air Force!”

“This place is one giant OCD prison.”

“The days feel extremely long because they are.”

My boyfriend wrote…”I got to call cadence today in formation, it was AWESOME!!” Then in his next letter he wrote, “I’ve been made Master At Arms. I guess the chief didn’t like my singing cadences.”

“No more hour long poops. They call it Pump and Dump!”

“I’ve decided that the RDCs are trying to impose Stockholm Syndrome…….and it’s working!”

“I’m on Color Guard and it’s very important to NOT drop the flag. That ranks right up there with do NOT drop the soap!”

“I’ve learned that the recruiters are the salesmen and lawyers of the Navy.”

“Whenever an inspection takes place, not doing something is called an FFI. We hear it a lot. Well, while cleaning the head in the chapel, I overheard someone talking about when God told Abraham to kill his son, Isaac, and he didn’t do it. All I could think of was, “That’s an FFI!” It stands for Failure to Follow Instruction.”

“Mom, these people here have no souls.”

“And there is a guy who catches all the heat I should. He is my size and when we are both bald and wearing BC’s we look -IDENTICAL!! He is ugly as sin so that kinda bums me out!”
“My bunkmate is 30 , 6’5″ with banana fingers, from West Africa, and me a 5’8″ kid from a cornfield. Two days ago during an inspection I had a string on my collar and he kept pulling it because he knew I’d get yelled at. But his f…ing banana fingers were too big so he bit it off real quick. As you can imagine, I nearly pissed myself.”

“Hey mom, this is your new son…. but don’t worry, I don’t love you any different.”

“Chief is f$#*&$# hardcore and very fluent in profanity.”

“I love you more than I love shining my f*ing boots 🙂 ”

“Oh, funny. A bunch of guys just started singing I’m a Little Teapot.”

“As I write this, I’m wearing a work shirt nearly identical to my Office Depot shirt, sitting on ugly linoleum under harsh fluorescent lights feeling resentful toward my bosses. It’s like I never left home. Except at night I go home to 83 smelly guys and none of you.”

“I am making some friends, but they kind of decide who your friends are for you. I’m mainly friends with my bunkmates and the people I stand next to in our height line.”

“And then there’s [name deleted]. He was dumb as a brick. He says his recruiter told him that after boot camp he’d be permanently stationed in his hometown and as soon as he got here and discovered that wasn’t the case, he wanted out. He faked having asthma, tried to buy pot off of Chief, swore at the Petty Officers, and so on. But I actually miss him. It was like having a soap opera, always something new and interesting.”

“By the way, they are allowed to swear at individual people. I’ve been called f***face, a f-ing rock, and a f-ing dodohead. As I write, they’re drawing our division flag ”” an anchor with an eagle carrying a dodo skull, symbolizing our shedding of being dodohead recruits. It’s totally boss.”

“YAY! Mail call, then bed! Two of my three favorite things!”

“PS – why do they stuff the pepper if they know they’re going to make it soup? Wouldn’t it be easier to put the stuffing straight in the soup?”

Which was your favorite?

Slipping Through My Fingers

So many people have asked me about the song lyrics from yesterday’s blog about my son that I decided to post the video here. It’s a scene from the movie “Mamma Mia.”

You’ll note the stage is set differently. That’s Meryl Streep, not me. And it’s her daughter getting married, not her son going away.

If you don’t cry when you watch this, you’ve never left home, or you’ve never had a mommy, or you’ve never had a child leave, or you are carved out of stone and aluminum with a heart fashioned from wrought iron. You know who you are.

One thing I forgot to mention yesterday was that before we left home, my son wandered through the whole house, telling me he just wanted to take it all in and remember it.

It was then that I realized he’d be just fine. He had already balanced on that teeter totter inside himself between knowing he wanted to leave but that leaving changed everything.

Something I couldn’t teach him.

[youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ib-AZ3Sf3kg&feature=related]

If you can’t make the video work, here’s the link straight to YouTube.