Clearly, I could talk all day about BMT. Truly, I loved it (somedays more than others...). But in an effort to leave some element of surprise for future trainees and to not turn my life's diary into a BMT blog, I'll share just a couple highlights and neat things I experienced and then get back to the "sauce" that you've all come to know.
Read on for some of the highlights & final thoughts about my time at Air Force Basic Military Training.
My clothing drawer. Though not perfect, my t-shirts never got demerits—they were always on point.
My wall locker.
My security drawer. What a comfort it was to see my sweet husband's face each time I opened it.
The dorms... oh, the dorms. I was in the 322nd Training Squadron (the old dorms) and I'm so glad that I got to go through BMT as an Eagle. I loved the fact that we were in the old dorms. We got to live in the same dorms, sleep in the same beds, and use the same showers that trainees before us have been using for generations. How cool is that? I loved it. Granted, it was old—the paint was chipping, the lockers were dented, the beds were ancient, and we had 6 shower heads to share amongst the other 46-girls in my flight. Yet still, I wouldn't have traded my experience for anything.
My detail in the dorms was Pad Crew, and I tell you what... that's the detail of all details. I was able to get out of the dorm each morning and each evening to sweep the pad under our dorm that we form up on several times per day. I got to watch the sun rise and the set almost each day, escaping the drama that always seemed to unfold during details.
There were days when my flight mates were loud (thinking back, were there days when they were quiet? That's the real question). There were days when I just wanted to escape. And then there were days that I took in every moment and just laughed at the shenanigans that went on around me. When living with a group of girls that big and in such tight quarters, never are you ever going to get along with every single one of them. But each day I reminded myself that I was being paid to make new friends, develop professional relationships, and receive a once-in-a-lifetime training experience. It made it all so worth it.
When I arrived at BMT, I told myself one thing over and over—"Please don't put me in band flight, please don't put me in band flight." Needless to say, I got put in band flight. Never have I ever touched an instrument, nor had any type of rhythm to speak of. The idea of playing any sort of instrument was so laughable to me, but when I was put in band flight, I sucked it up and put forth my best effort. I was assigned to the cymbals, which aren't exactly the hardest things to figure out, and surprisingly, I did quite well at them. But, like I said, how hard is it to figure out crash-2-3-4-5-6-7-8?
If anything, I enjoyed band practice. We typically had it two days per week and I felt like I got an extra workout in after smashing the cymbals together for two hours. Plus, our instructors were humorous and I always got a good chuckle out of their rants and long-winded escapades.
Here's the thing about band flight, you do everything else that every other flight does... you just also do band on top of it. Based on your instrument, you have the opportunity to play at graduations as early as your 4th week, so it's awesome to get to experience the ceremonies ahead of time to know what to expect. Overall, I was proud to be a part of band flight. I wouldn't trade that experience—nor the new buff arms!—for anything.
Warming up for the O-Course.
During our 4th week, we got down and dirty at the Obstacle Course. I had a ton of fun with it. We climbed over ropes, crawled under logs, jumped off platforms, weaved over wooden barricades, and swung across ponds. I got dirty, I got sweaty, and I accomplished the entire course without falling in the water or sustaining any injuries.
Rumor has it that the O-Course will be seeing its final days soon due to the number of trainees that become injured while going through it, so I was grateful to have the chance to complete it.
BEAST—holy moly BEAST. During our 6th week, we were bused over to BEAST for several days of living in a mock-deployment environment. Our flight was combined with three other male flights and we all lived in tents in a big, sandy camp. We sweat (oh, how we sweat!), we learned how to shoot, we trekked through the sand everywhere we went, and my favorite—ate MRE's (yum)!
I had a very different experience at BEAST than most. I was our flight's BEAST Monitor (essentially Dorm Chief for the week). When we arrived at BEAST, I was also assigned to the position of Zone Leader, which put me in charge of the other 208 trainees that made up the Vigilant Zone. Talk about taking some responsibility! I think I was yelled at more at BEAST than any other time at BMT—any time our zone made a mistake, I was the one who took the hit—but I didn't mind... someone had to do it! Though our zone didn't achieve BEAST Excellence, I still gained valuable leadership experience and made several new friends along the way.
After our initial PT test (and my pull-up score), I was appointed Alternate Guideon Bearer. Apparently, our MTI's thought that being strong equaled great potential for Guideon Bearer. I was honored to be selected, and practiced as much as I could to learn the skill. If you are unaware, Guideon Bearers lead the flight in formation everywhere they go. The control the direction and speed of march, and it's actually a lot of responsibility and a pretty stressful job within the flight.
I was given the opportunity, instead of just sitting back and watching all the time, to carry our staff every other day. Our MTI's wanted me and our primary Guideon to be equally as great, and it's a good thing that I had the practice—our Guideon Bearer suffered a shoulder injury during the 7th week, so I took on the responsibility of carrying from there on out.
Guideon Bearer was one of the neatest opportunities I experienced at BMT. It taught me a lot about drill, gave me more confidence when marching, and totally gave me additional strength (and muscles) that I didn't know I had. What an honor it was to be the Guideon. And of course, my favorite saying will now always and forever be, "As you were, Guideon Bearer!"
BMT was unlike anything else I've ever experienced, and anything I'll ever have the chance to go through again. It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that I took every advantage of to better myself as a person and Airman. I learned leadership skills, trained with the best new military members in the country, and got my body into the best shape of my life. One of my favorite things was journaling each day and writing down what we did, what we endured, and how I was changing as a person. I'll treasure the memories in that journal forever!
I know that BMT has prepared me for an amazing career in the United States Air Force and Idaho Air National Guard. And what's next in my journey as an Airman? I have technical training for my AFSC in Personnel this fall, and then I'll be serving as a traditional in the Idaho Air National Guard one weekend a month. I'm so excited to see all that the Air Force has in store for me. Truly, I am ready to Aim high—fly, fight and win.
See my other Basic Military Training experiences here: I am an American Airman │ BMT: Retreat, Parade & Graduation │ BMT: Graduation Weekend in San Antonio │ BMT: PT & Top PT Award │ BMT: Highlights & Final Thoughts