I was unloading groceries from the car on Saturday afternoon when Jennifer Lynn came out and told me to come into the house quickly because Ethan was on the phone. When you get a call from your son in basic training there’s no “the ice cream is going to melt – let me call you back in five minutes” because the soldiers only get one shot – so to speak – at contacting their family, so I hustled in. I was also quite sure that there was a drill sergeant making sure that the call didn’t go over the allotted 10 minutes by a second, so no danger that the ice cream would have a chance to melt.
This is the second phone call we’ve gotten from him and the calls are so rushed that it’s difficult to get the full story but apparently his platoon had won an obstacle course competition which earned them the right to make a call.
I had an opportunity to ask him how many are in this platoon; 44 for now but he says they will probably be losing three by the end of the week. The official reason is medical discharge but he says that may not be the full story. There is a wall of shame in the back of a classroom where they hang the CamelBaks of those who leave.
After having high hopes for achieving expert level in his marksmanship test, Ethan said he barely qualified which he attributes to taking the test when the outside temperature was 20 degrees but his internal body temperature was 102. We’re just happy he passed because the army is one place where recycling isn’t a good thing. If soldiers don’t pass one of the requirements, they are “recycled” meaning that they have to start at square one and go through basic training all over again. That would be a painful phone call to have to make to the folks back home.
He said that they have completed the red and white phases and are now entering last phase called…no big surprise here…the blue phase. It is the final six to nine weeks of BCT with the grand finale being a three-day field exercise which includes a 9.6 mile march carrying all your equipment. He’s excited but a bit nervous but before he even gets to that, he has to pass a physical test later this week. He is regretting that for many years, the only part of his body that got any exercise were his fingers reaching for the shift key on the keyboard.
As he had reported in his letters, he says he’s in the hardest platoon in the hardest company. There are even rumors that the soldiers in other companies get to eat the Skittles, M&Ms, and Reese’s Pieces that are in the MREs whereas his platoon has to toss all the good stuff into a contraband pile for the drill instructors. Eat candy like Foxtrot company? Hah! Delta company eats nails for breakfast! Or so he says…