Fort Leonard Wood 12 Mile Ruck March

This is pretty much how it went down… off and on, off and on!

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6 Weeks Left! C MOD Rundown

Thanks to an e-mail I recieved last night from a grateful reader, I will write another post summarizing the past 6 weeks. I’m sorry I’m terrible at keeping this updated! If you’re going to be coming to EBOLC, you’ll understand. I’ll just say this – 0330 Wake Up for our final PT test, 9 straight hours of concrete class, repeat.

Even though the last couple weeks have just been crazy, I’m still enjoying myselfI’m currently in Deco Module, but I’ll cover what we did in Charlie.

Here’s a run down of the major events since my last post:

FTX 2: I might have mentioned that EBOLC is split up into 5 Modules; Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, Deco and Fox. FTX 2 takes place at the very end of Bravo (Demo) and kicks off Charlie (Bridging).In addition to this FTX you will also be completing a 15-mile ruck march intertwined with missions over a 24 hour period.This is an Army 20/20 task. I was initially intimidated, but after doing it, trust me, you’ll be fine. After that you start the actual FT. I thought the missions were going to be very fast paced like LDAC, but you will actually get quite a bit of time to plan. I felt that some PL’s didn’t use thier time well enough, one of the biggest forms of feedback were to conduct detailed rehearsals. Anyway, we only slept 5 hours that weekend but it was not as intense as I expected it to be.

Leadership Floor: I was chosen to be 1SG for this rotation. All was well and good until we got back from the FTX. To make a long story short, there was a miscommunication between our mentor cadre and the module cadre on how long we needed to stay after and clean weapons. The entire leadership floor was fired and it was just a confusing mess haha. So yes, I was fired. But I guess I get to redeem myself for the last two weeks of BOLC when we get reinstated.

C Module: After the FTX you will start bridging. Here you will lean how to conduct a route recon and bridge recon. In the past Bridging was one of the hardest exams to pass, they’e now made it a non-critical event. The cadre for this module were awesome and nearly all of our class passed the exam the first time! You’ll also complete the timed 5-mile run on the troop trail with your class. After the FTX you’ll have your weekends back and you can sleep in!¬†ūüôā

I think it was during this time I went to Springfield? Nearly everyone will end up going to Springfield because Army people are outdoorsy and the HQ for BassPro Shop is there.

It is seriously massive.

There are at least 3 museums contained in this¬†3 story building¬†in addition to the aquariums, restaurants,¬†regular sections and firearm/archery section. We didn’t even make it to the boats etc. From a design standpoint, I would not have wanted to create the RCP’s (reflected ceiling plans) for this place as amazing as it is. On the first floor if you look up, you’ll notice the bottom of ducks, root systems and water. They designed it so you feel like you’re under a lake!

After we were looking for a place to eat but wanted to do something a little different. We Yelp’d it and found ReRico (http://www.rericogrill.com/). It. was. AMAZING. So much food! I would recommend going there if you’re in Springfield if you’re looking to eat something other than BBQ.

More to follow! 

 

Catch Up

Hello!

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted. I thought that while I was here I could be disciplined and post everyday. If you are a new LT reading this, just expect to be tired and awake all the time. You will wake up before even the craziest of people, and you will work past the hours everyone else in the world works. You’ll be expected to study, just to come back to your room, eat dinner, and pass out.

Last time I left you we were still in Alpha Module. At the end of this you will have your first FTX. It doesn’t really count as one in my opinion. The whole purpose of it is to familiarize yourself with the M4 Rifle, the CCO (Close Combat Optic) zero and group your weapon and finally, qualify on the range. I had never heard of a CCO before this. It is a sight you attach to the top of your rifle that shoots out a little laser. It makes the rear and front sight posts obsolete and literally makes your rifle a “point and shoot” type of deal.

You will have your first Tactical Road March (TRM) with your class that morning and you’ll ruck out and back to the ranges everyday. For the whole weekend we probably moved a total of 15 miles. Prepare to come back and spend a bunch of time cleaning weapons then enjoy a day off.

After this you will enter Bravo Module. The Module that makes up 90% of all class videos. It’s the one where you get to experience Demo!

That fun and exciting part only lasts a week though. For the first 3 days you will have classes on the different types of wires, initiators explosives, etc. that we have to use. You will learn what types of things we can blow up and how to calculate for it. One the 4th day you are given a safety test and a practical test, where the majority is calculating how many packs of C4 you need to cut a tree in half that is 30″ in diameter. If you are a degreed Engineer, you might have a little more trouble than those who aren’t. You are given a little pamphlet with formulas on it to help you with this process. The Army dumbs everything down for you. Just follow the pamphlet and you’ll be okay! Don’t try to figure out why you have to round up here and not there, don’t ask where we get 1.414 from. The NCO teaching it won’t know. He’ll just say that’s how it is, and it works, so do it and “tape the sh*t out of it”.

The next day you will go to the Demo Range and actually prep the explosives and go out and set them up, and pull the initiator and make it go BOOM. It will be awesome, and you will love it.

I know I’ve promised pictures. I’m in the process of getting them off my phone and onto the internet. Bear with me.

Following that you will start learning about Offense/Defense as an Engineer. This is the section I am in right now. It’s a lot of PT at 0450, Class at 0745 until 1700. Embrace it.

More to follow.

Days 7 to Day 10

I’m sorry for not updating this all of last week! It was busy with little down time. I’ll tell you what I can remember.

Monday: 0500 PT formation. Another really tough run. This day I had to go to Optometry to get fitted for eye glass inserts because you’re not allowed to wear contacts in the field. Therefore you must have about 7 different things just for your face so you can see. (Glasses, sunglasses, gas mask insert, goggle insert, shooting glasses etc). More briefs.

Tuesday: For some reason or another we didn’t have PT this morning, but we still had to show up at 0450 for formation. Some announcements were put out then we were dismissed, left with an awkward chunk of time. To go back to sleep or stay awake? This day we had to go to Dental. For the 3 hours of overall waiting we did, when we finally got to the dentists chair he stuck a mirror in my mouth, poked around and said. “You’re good.” and off I went. MORE BRIEFS.

Wednesday: We were supposed to have the PT test this day. It was moved because the weather was going to be bad. It actually turned out to be okay. I can’t remember what we did that morning, but later we had to do another step of in-processing: dealing with our life insurance and what to do if we die.

Thursday: This morning had an optional run down and up Car Wash Hill. It’s supposedly 2 miles downhill and 2 miles back up. I chose to sleep in that morning. This day we went to do our Medical. Since I had already done most of my things through my Reserve Unit, I only had to get 3 shots and some blood drawn. We were also given our first OPORD (Operations Order) Brief. This is a testable event and every 2LT has to present one while they are here. It’s essentially your Commander telling you what he wants your platoon to accomplish, and you as the Platoon Leader have to plan for every detail, contingency and situation that you could encounter on this mission. You have to create a terrain model (they basically had sandboxes propped up on tables with little cars, stings, army guys etc. so you can depict what is going on while you’re explaining it to everyone) and brief your “platoon”. 6 random people were chosen. The rest of us had to be ready to support them the next day.

Friday: The morning of the PT test. We were told that it would start at 0430, so I woke up that morning at 0335. When we arrived, none of the cadre were there. Turns out our student leadership was mistaken and it actually started at 0500. By the time 100 people were done being tested on their push-ups and situps it was nearly 2 hours since I had been standing outside in 30 degrees that we finally started the run. But my legs didn’t want to move. The run was an out-and-back type deal. only half of it was lit, and it went slightly uphill. When I got to the turn around point the man there called out the elapsed time: “8:50!” WHAT. I had been running SO. SLOW. The end of the run was literally, one of the worst times I have ever done in my entire life. I am ashamed to have that time. But! Now I know just to run nearly everyday and by the time 4 months are up, I’ll be scoring 100 on that area.

The rest of the day was dedicated to the OPORD brief.¬† And let’s just say those did not go well at all. In ROTC your Order would come out to about 4 pages maximum. In these, I have heard of some being 80 pages, all memorized. That’s how much more detailed planning you have to do. Our PL had 4 hours to prepare, we broke for lunch, then we came back to listen to the presentation. It was painful to watch. The cadre tore the PL’s apart. They took one for the team and we all came out of it learning something.

I went out to dinner with a few other people in my class. We went to this Mexican restaurant which was pretty good. Afterwards, I was about to go to bed (we had been awake since 0330) but of course people were going out. I decided to go as well and now I can say that I know how to Two-Step. One of my goals for this year is to try everything new that I’ve always wanted to and now I can cross that one off the list.

 

 

Day 6

My friend from LDAC had told me at our dinner at the Elbow Inn that the runs like what we experienced on Friday were only going to happen once. Otherwise the PT here is very mild and you have to really work out on your own.

That was not the case this morning. Again, we had a fast group run. This time I was near the back. Soon after we started, all of a sudden the front of the formation began sprinting. It’s probably one of the most demotivating things when you see half of your formation speed ahead and your best efforts to catch up to them appear fruitless. I was definitely not last, but I was also definitely not first. It was a challenging run, and I’m going to just expect every PT session to be like that to guard my mental sanity. Afterwards we were given a talking to by our First Lieutenant of how excellence is expected from us and we should provide nothing less. Although I am definitely not the worst LT out here at fast running up and down hills, I suppose I should start running everyday again.

After I came back, made my standard breakfast (sunny-side up egg, sausage, coffee, strawberries) and headed off to the museum on post for a detailed tour and brief about the Engineer Branch history. If that doesn’t get you completely psyched to be an Engineer, I don’t know what will! I love the fact that the Engineers are viewed as problem-solvers and the Swiss Army knife of the organization. Even if your experience is more in Bridging, if you’re at a unit and they need a shelter built, it doesn’t matter. You’re expected to know a bit about everything, and if not, then where to find the resources to help you.

I then had to go to the Optometrist to get prescription inserts for my eye pro (eye protection, aka shooting glasses). The Army has already issued me regular glasses, prescription sunglasses, and a gas mask insert. You’re not allowed to wear contacts in the field, so they have to give you prescription everything. The whole process was a lot less painful than I thought it would be. Usually these things take all day, but we were there for only about 30 minutes.

Following that we had a class on Range Safety and received a range safety certification, followed by an “ethics” brief by a Southern Baptist Major with whom I (and a lot of my class) completely disagreed. It was less an ethics class, more a shaming on those who did not adhere to strict rules set by religion. I agreed with his main point, that everyone should have a set of values they base their decisions and life on, whether you decide that’s through your religion or what have you. His manner of going about it though was more of, “If you don’t follow something to a T, you will be a terrible officer, and my way is the best way.”

We finished up with a brief from the Engineer School Commandant who is a One Star General. He welcomed us to the course and offered himself up for questions from the class. Also, like all briefs you will get from Officers/NCO’s here, they will all include the general sentiments of: Don’t drink and drive, don’t get caught speeding etc. by the MP’s, don’t cheat, don’t get any SHARP violations. They will iterate to you again and again that these things will/can get you kicked out of the Army. This will be said to you so many times, you will lose count. And they have to because LT’s get in trouble all the time.

Anyway, later that night I had to get a cable for my printer since it wasn’t included and I have a million forms I needed to fill out and print. The RadioShack here is closed, Wal-Mart doesn’t carry it and the PX was closed. SO, that meant I had to drive all the way to Rollo (~30 min drive each way). Once that was over I went to wash my car with someone from my squad. He ran over a skunk and then later his battery died and I had my first experience jumping a car battery, lol. An eventful day to say the least.

 

Day 4 & 5 (The Weekend!)

We were very fortunate to have the whole weekend off!

On Friday night when we all were at Blackjacks my class found out I’m a pretty good swimmer. A couple of them approached me, “Ohmygosh, I’m a terrible swimmer and I want to go to Sapper School (A military specialty school that is if not more, then just as challenging as Ranger School. Info. here.) and don’t want to fail the CWST (Combat Water Survival Test) portion of the course, can you help me?”

I love teaching people things so a whole group of us went to the indoor pool on post on Saturday and Sunday. With just a few adjustments, everyone was looking 1000x’s better.

On Saturday I also met up with a friend from LDAC (the summer course I went to at Ft. Lewis, WA). He’s also in EBOLC but has been here since November. Of course I chose to go to a BBQ place (we’re in MO, and I loveeee BBQ) called the Elbow Inn and it was hilarious. It literally looked like a glorified shack on the side of the highway with it’s decorations and beer signs. I guess it’s still legal to smoke indoors in MO because the whole place was smoky and dark. There was a pool table and a little bar on one side,¬† and a juke box with chairs like this:
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And wobbly tables made out of chipboard and covered with a fake wood plastic. The inside looked to have some left over Valentines Day “decorations” aka black and red plastic sheets hung and arranged on the walls. The owner came out at one point to hang out with his friends, blowing a duck call to entertain. It was the essence of Missouri.

Perhaps to some people the impression of the whole building wouldn’t have made much of a difference, but probably because I studied Interior¬† Design, whenever I go into a place, I immediately notice all of it, critique it and think about it. It’s kind of nice to do while I’m waiting for something, it would keep me entertained for hours.

A group from my class went out again on Saturday night to a place called Chicken Bones. We were looking for dancing, but turns out they were hosting Fight Night (some boxing thing was on) then it followed up with about an hour of karaoke, which we obviously took part in, with maybe half an hour of random DJ’d songs.

Sunday we went to the pool again and I met up with a friend from my ROTC Battalion who works here at Ft. Leonard Wood and we went to a German restaurant which I’ll probably go back to again.

Then I watched my first two episodes of the Walking Dead with some people from my squad and we all went to bed about 9:00 since we had to be up at 4:00.

It was a very busy weekend!

Day 3

This morning after we warmed up we went on a Company Run. Usually these are kept at a moderate to slow-ish pace because everyone in the company needs to still stay in line and not everyone is at the same fitness level. As is typical of those who wish to prove themselves, we took off flying. The pace was fast. We only ran for about half a mile when we were finally ordered to stop. The SGT turned to all of us and said:

“LT’s, look at that hill. You’re going to sprint to the top of the hill to to stop sign and jog back down. This is your release run. Ready, go.”

I’m always skeptical of these kinds of things. What would then happen is you would have to do it again. And again. And AGAIN. So I “sprinted” up the hill, conserving some of my energy. It was cold, and I was still winded from just getting there.

I finished the hill sprint in about the top 75% of my class, happy I wasn’t last. Fortunately after that we all ran as a unit again, back up the hill. Again, it was freaking fast. For some reason, the people in the front were flying. As we came closer to our start point it got even faster. A near sprint. Again, it wouldn’t have surprised me if instead we ran right past it for another 2, 3 miles. You get your hopes up, only to be crushed.

Fortunately we stopped, sweaty as a pig. We cooled down, and I went back, got ready and arrived at our Educational Building. We were issued NetBooks (tiny laptops) and later that day we headed to CIF (Central Issuing Facility) and got all of our field gear. Cold weather, wet weather gear, a ruck sack, our Kevlars (helmets) sleep systems (sleeping bag(s)), and a bunch of other stuff. Getting issued items is always a big deal because if you lose it, you have to pay for it. Missing an item from your hand receipt could make your out-processing very, very painful. You also need to inspect every single piece of equipment. A poncho with a gaping hole in it isn’t going to keep you dry when you make a lean-to out of it.

We were also included in a presentation given by SFC Taylor on Platoon Leaders (PLs) and Platoon Sergeants (PSG’s) working together. This man has two purple hearts and tons of combat experience. From his brief, he seemed like the kind of PSG I would love to have. When you arrive at your unit, everyone knows as a 2LT that you know nothing. It’s your job to learn what it is that everyone does, to get to know your people and learn as much as possible. It’s your PSG and Squad Leader’s jobs to mold you into the leader that you will become. Your PSG will likely be either an E6 or E7 and he as probably been in the military as long as you have been alive. The PL and the PSG are like peanut butter and jelly. They need to work well together. If they don’t, the whole unit will be out of balance and the platoon may not even recognize the authority or respect one or the other. One thing he said that I wrote down was, “Your platoon should not revere you as their leader until you have gone.” While you’re there, the will probably hate you. You’re supposed to push them physically and constantly be training. You’re not there to be their friend, you’re there to be their leader.

Lastly, we had to take a basic aptitude test. One was for math and had some basic algebra and other questions on it. The other one was some military knowledge, Most of us scored between 40-50%. These were just to measure how much we knew.

 

Overall it was a more active day than the ones we had been having.

Later that night a bunch of people from my platoon decided to meet at Black Jack’s, a bar/grill literally, across the street from where we all live. I was so tired from the morning that I had to take a nap. When the time came to go, I almost didn’t. But these opportunities for socializing in the beginning are important. You need to establish your friend base! So I went. And we had so. much. fun.¬†Turns out, quite a few of the people in our Company love to dance. We requested a billion songs from the DJ and just had a great time.

I think I have a pretty good class. ūüôā

 

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Day 2

Again, we woke up incredibly early, to be early to an early PT formation. This time we were walked through PRT extensively. PRT (Physical Readiness Training) is a series of warm-up and cool-down exercises that are preformed every single time before and after a unit PT session. Some of the drills feel a bit silly when they’re performed. It’s been compared to “cheer practice” at one point. Although it seems ridiculous, I’m happy the Army has put more attention on warm up and cool downs. Unfortunately this took about 2.5 hours. Just standing in 27 degrees makes the tips of your fingers and toes nearly frostbitten haha.¬†

I have about an hour for breakfast, then we were whisked off to even more in-processing briefs. A short 40 minute lunch break at the DFAC with what seemed like everybody else on the installation, and we were back for… you’ll never guess, more briefs! Near the end we met with a COL with whom we Reservists will have a 15-20 minute meeting with him to discuss our future, etc. This was amazing news for me because I’ve been kind of stressing out about changing units because of my joblessness. With his help I could possibly be able to get into the very type of unit I want, so I’m very very excited to see how this goes!

We got out of all of this about 1330 which was a great change because I had a million other things to take care of! Things to buy, things to go get my name sewn on to…. When we’re working until about 1800-1900 everyday the PX (Post Exchange) and all other shops are already closed, so I was grateful for the extra off time!

Then I cam back home, called my mom and went to the gym for yoga class! I hope that the schedule won’t be so regimented that I won’t be able to make it every week.

Overall, an uninteresting day but it’s another day underway!

 

 

 

 

Day 1

A quick post before I go to bed…

Today I woke up at 0420 before my alarm. I could already hear my other classmates driving away to our formation location. I arrived at 0450, 10 minutes before the mandated start time. But apparently that was still being “late” I had just caught most everyone already formed up and ready to go. So I suppose I should be 20 minutes early to everything.The saying should be, “If you’re not earlier than early, you’re late.”

We inspected our cars and submitted registration, insurance and license info. Pretty straight forward.

After we had a 40 minute break before our next time. So, if I’m now to be 20 minutes early to everything, that means all I did was run back home, grab a banana and a yogurt and came right back. I assumed this was breakfast time.

We then had another formation, of which I forgot the purpose already. Whatever it was about didn’t apply to me, so the rest of us were dismissed and then we had about an hour to use for breakfast. I went to the Starbucks in the “Mini mall” on post with a bunch of guys from my platoon. It seems like this platoon is one that will be good at what they do, but don’t take themselves too seriously. Definitely have a bunch of jokers up here, and that’s the kind of platoon I like the most haha.

FLW houses one of the largest Engineering brigades, so the branch gets a lot of attention. You will see our insignia castles everywhere and on everything. Here we had a Chaplain speak to us about Suicide Prevention, a standard and commonplace procedure. I wish that Army chaplains/priests would just come and be in civilian places of worship. They have this demeanor that I enjoy and for some reason I feel more trust around them. It’s a big deal for me to feel that way, because I am very cautious and defensive around them usually. Perhaps it’s because they’ve had to literally deal with life and death situations, because they are my “brothers and sisters in arms”. But enough about that.

After that it was lunch, which I spent most of the time calling my banks/credit places because they thought fraudulent charges were being made because I was in other states. I ran home, cut up some vegetables, opened some stew meat, beef broth and spices and threw it all in the Crock Pot within 10-15 minutes. If I wasn’t going to have time to eat a decent lunch, I will at least make a divine dinner.

Later was more briefs, and a 2 hour period that was spent filling out one form because there were so many technical issues.

I found out that one of the gyms here has a pool, so after I had some of my oh-so-great stew and called my grandparents, I ran off to the gym and swam for about an hour. It’s an indoor pool, so it can’t ever possibly compare to my all-time favorite, North Shore Pool back home. But since I am on a military installation, many of the people there just don’t swim. It’s all about running and lifting, so I had the lanes to myself. I shut the place down, lifeguards came up to me and told me it was time to leave.

I came back to home, showered, laid out all my clothes for tomorrow, organized my room, and here we are. Ready to pass out and wake up for our first PT (Physical Training) session at 0450!

I’ll post pictures on the weekend!

Day 0

I left Paducah KY about 0730. I didn’t want to drive potentially unplowed two lane highways at midnight to get to FLW (Ft. Leonard Wood) on time. So, in all honesty, I kind of left when I felt like it.

The drive was fantastic. It was a beautiful day and I moved through St. Louis and saw the arch, and then the geography of the area started changing. You could see tall rock faces and the hills were even more big and steep.

Once I finally reached St. Robert, the exit off the highway spits you directly into FLW’s jaws. It wasn’t until after I got through the gate I realized I had no idea where I was. I called the only number made available to me. No answer. I called housing. Surely, they must have a map. Or know things. Or both. Finding buildings on an Army installation (or probably any other one) is difficult because you would think they would number the buildings by some organized fashion, like by block, or linear, or something. No, I learned a few months ago that they number them as they build them. So on one end of the fort you could be looking for 1702, and you see 1700 and 1701. You drive yourself crazy. “It must be here! Surely it must be! I am right! The buildings are wrong!”

Quite the opposite. 1702 is 3 miles away. But I digress.

The lady told me that I needed to come check in first before ANYTHING else. I replied, “Um… that’s not what it says on my papers…?” But I went anyway. I already wasn’t there. What harm could it be if I was even more late? I found the building, checked in, and found a huge map with all of the building numbers and set off to meet all of these new potential friends strangers.

People are formed up outside, all in ACU’s (the common camouflage patterned uniform) and I’m in my Physical Fitness uniform because my orders told me to. Immediately I sense my perfectionist/introvert/freak out tendencies begin to rise. Of the things I don’t like, it’s negative attention. It is my goal to just not be “that LT.” I have no idea if this is my class or not. I ask a CPT who these people are and he leads me to the Engineer room for my class. I give a few of my 20 copies of orders out, do the initial height and weight and get quick directions fired at me to meet my class on the other side of the installation.

I found the building with again, a struggle. I found my class, miraculously. After this point it’s just a combination of career briefs, honor,¬† how to fail EBOLC, how to not fail EBOLC, etc. etc. Basically, don’t fail the PT test. Study. Don’t do anything stupid. Try your best. Ask questions.

Once we were dismissed I found my room on accident, unpacked some and went to go buy some food. I love to cook and now unless I’m treating myself, it hurts me to spend extra money on food. Plus I’m sure it’s easy to gain weight if you’re eating out all the time too.

I google searched the area for grocery stores since the Commissary was already closed. Unless I shop at the Commissary, my only option is going to Wal-Mart. Ugh. My least favorite place ever to shop. But I guess I’ll deal. It’s just been Groundhog Day all over again ever since college. Arrive. Unpack. Buy food/utensils/plates/etc. Do the thing. Pack up. Leave. This is what I thought about as I bought my second set of dishware….

Tomorrow we’re meeting at what in the future will be the area we conduct our daily PT, but instead we’ll be doing a vehicle inspection. At 0500. So I better go to sleep. Pictures to be posted later!

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