Wednesday, July 2, 2014

BMT: Highlights & Final Thoughts

Basic Military Training—what a trip. It's hard to believe I've been home for three weeks already. When people ask to hear my stories, it's hard to pick and choose what to talk about. There's just so much that happened and that I experienced in that short 8.5-week period of time. And yes, it was short. Though each day seemed to drag on forever, the weeks flew past at lightning speed, and it's crazy to think that it's all already over. I'm very grateful it's over—of course—but I'm also grateful for each test, each trial, and each adventure that took me through it, because I grew so much as a person and Airman.

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.



Air Force BMT Dorms, BMT Clothing Drawer
My clothing drawer. Though not perfect, my t-shirts never got demerits—they were always on point.
Air Force BMT Dorms, BMT Wall Locker
My wall locker.
Air Force BMT Dorms, BMT Security Drawer
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.


Air Force BMT Band Flight

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.


Air Force BMT Obstacle Course
Warming up for the O-Course.
Air Force BMT Obstacle 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.


Air Force BMT Guideon Bearer

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


Aunie said...

:) Not that I don't miss the "sauce" ... But, I love reading about your journey.

Just can't get over how happy you look in all of these... You are shining like a star!

Aunie said...

such an amazing experience and sounds like you made the most of it for sure. glad you were able to enjoy it and learn so much!

Aunie said...

I love that you honed in the history piece. There's something extremely moving and amazing about standing where so many before you have stood, and knowing that they might have felt the very same things. That was one of the things that just blew my mind when I was a cadet standing out on the Plain at West Point, waiting for drill, and knowing I was as bored and tired as two hundred years of cadets before me. My advisor's office was General MacArthur's office when he was a math instructor. I stayed in the same barracks where Patton lived when he was a cadet.

It's an amazing tradition. We might be old fashioned around here, and while not all of that is great, there are many parts that are just a way of keeping those old memories alive.

Aunie said...

Thanks so much. I feel like happy is just the tip of the iceberg. There's pride, honor, joy, strength... you name it--I feel it (as long as it's good, of course!)

Aunie said...

Thanks Jackie. You're right, I learned SO MUCH. It was such a great experience. Thanks for reading along!

Aunie said...

That's so awesome, KC. There's SO MUCH history there... much more than my few predecessors at BMT. What a neat legacy we follow, huh? :)

Aunie said...

time for a silly question ... who took your photos when you were there? :)

Aunie said...

Hey girl! So... do you mean during BMT? Like the professional style shots we had? There was a photographer who came out at our big events (gas chamber, obstacle course, etc) to capture us. He would stay for about 30 minutes or so. It's so we can buy the DVD and CD at the end seeing our journeys on film. Of over 300 photos of our flight, I was only in a couple. It was neat to re-see that experience though!

Aunie said...

Congrats on making it through basic training. That's a set of blog posts re your BMT. I was at Lackland in January '75, and was in the 3702 squadron. It was located in the building near the perimeter, of the 2 squadrons by themselves. It was one of the "new" buildings, some engineers I now work with at the Kennedy Space Center were in the WW2 wooden barracks. Since our building was one of the newer ones at the time, everything had to be spic and span, more so than we heard the wooden barracks had to be. It was strongly hinted by our MTI to bathe with Prell shampoo, as it didn't leave residue in the showers. Strongly recommended! I had brought my 35mm camera with me and was stored in the dayroom storage for the first 4 weeks (out of 6 total), but got permission to take it out for base lib. By the 5th week (city lib) I just kept it in the security area of my locked drawer. Now, when I was there, we had unofficial (but widely used) nicknames for the level at which you were: rainbow, pickle, pinger (pretty sure "pinger" didn't apply to the women!). The obstacle course was called the "confidence course" in those days, but I don't think it's changed too much. I don't believe the women did the confidence course nor the dry/wet fire. No band, no run, and I don't think many of the guys in my flight had their parents fly in to see graduation. We seemed to always get gigged for those inpection tags in some pocket or another; 20 years after I left the A.F. I found another. After Basic, we had a group who took the bus from the in/out-processing center to Keesler for the next school (active duty didn't take a break). Lackland will always be the shortest in duration and most intensive of memories, time of my life, and I suspect the same is true of everyone. I can examine just about any other 6 week segment and not remember hardly anything, but those 6 weeks, well, there are a lot of stories (thank you, camera). I took a picture of a trainee in my flight named Bell racing at the go-cart track, but when I show that picture to other A.F. alumni from that era, they say/ask, "there was a go-cart track?" Eeeee-yuppp! The same is true of the AFSC training, just like a freshman year in college, lots of fun, lots of learning, a lot more freedom (I was at Keesler for 9 months, and for 4 of those months I had a part time job at the McD's across from the beach... sigh), and lots of good memories. I wish you well in your endeavours. And take pictures of everything! (It cost money back in the day with film and processing, but now SD cards are cheap.) Take pictures of static plane displays, signs in front of buildings, buildings, people, friends, you, even the bathroom (and back them up every so often on external hard drives!). 40 years from now a lot of what you experienced won't be there. When getting friend's addresses, also get the address of their parents. Your friends will move around a lot in their early years (yes, even the thirties and forties), and the addresses of their parents will be a good piece of info when you want to find you long lost best friend. The base library is an excellent place to dig up history of the base, a lot of the bases were "air fields" prior to 1946 when they were Army (when the shopping areas were called "post exchanges" (PX), not "base exchanges" (BX) -- part of the legacy of AAFES. And most of all, best of luck in everything y'all do!

Aunie said...

Thank you so much for this comment! Wow--your stories are absolutely incredible. I love Keesler. I've been here a week and I'm having a lot of fun so far. The base (and the beach!) is amazing. Great advice about the pictures. I'll have to start taking more! Keep those memories close to your heart, they're so special. Thank you again for sharing that with me! :)

Aunie said...

I just want you to know that I have been soaking up all your information about enlisting in the Air Force (Reserves) and the experience you had at BMT. I am a blogger (, and I am so thankful to have found your blog to take notes from. I just enlisted into the DEP program and am waiting for a job slot. Thank you so much for sharing your experiences!

Aunie said...

Oh Liz, thanks so much for your comment. I'm so excited for you. I think you'll love it. Have you ever read Aim High Erin? She's also in the Reserves and I think you'd get a lot from her blog, too! Wishing you all the best... and congrats on the best decision of your life :)

Aunie said...

Thank you so much! I've been following Erin as well! Both of your blogs have been so helpful!

Aunie said...

Thank you, Liz! If I can help in any way please let me know. I'm so excited for your journey!