Note: This is part of series to help ALL who served and their families to reminisce, remember and record memories and stories of your military service. Be sure to check out all the other posts and comment in the white space below each post!
Last time our topic was what happened when you left for Boot Camp. This time we'll take it a step further. I have never met anyone who ever served in the military who didn't have vivid memories of this topic.
My plane landed in Columbia, South Carolina, for destination: Fort Jackson. It was probably 2200 hours at this point. I heard rumors that they always take you in at night on purpose. It sets the intimidation level up a few notches for sure. I remember a nondescript sergeant waiting for me and the others on the plane who were also heading to Jackson. He was not mean nor did he yell at us. We loaded into a big white passenger van with all of our stuff. No one said much on the 45 minute drive. Exhaustion-especially emotional and mental- had taken its toll.
I especially remember looking at the street lights on the highway and looking at the green road signs. It was such a foreign place to me and the thought of the unexpected to come scared the crap out of me. Upon arrival at the reception station, the fun began. We were taken into a carpeted room and told to spread out (in lines of course) and dump all of our stuff out. One by one we were called into a little booth, very similar to a confession booth that Catholics would use to talk to a priest. They wanted to know if we had brought any contraband with us- knives, drugs, cigarettes, etc.. Before and after our turn, we waited probably two hours, all the while standing stock still with no talking.
After being yelled at some more, we had a set of sheets thrust into our already crowded arms and were rushed into a large, dark bay full of bunk beds. It was past 0100 now, so we went to the latrine, did the minimum of hygiene tasks, and fell into bed.
At 0500 or so, a shrill, loud female voice screeched over the PA speaker, "Fifth platoon, fifth platoon. Get up!!" I knew I was in for something very different than home now!
Next time I will talk about the eleven days I spent in the reception station before the first actual day of Boot Camp.
Your turn: What memories do you have of arriving at boot camp? Who was there? What happened? What were your feelings at the time?