Who wants flowers when you're dead? Nobody.
Seventy-fifth Entry. Concentrated smoke and smoking sessions by DS Hockenberry.
19 SEP 03 | 2112 -Friday

I got what I asked for. We got gassed today and it was wondrous. We went all out today, and it was great. I can't get enough. We marched about a mile on cross-country terrain with our LBE's (Load Bearing Equipment), our rucksack with protective mask and other items inside, and our ballistic helmets. It doesn't sound like much, but marching uphill and downhill, on sand, over fallen trees...it becomes a little more complicated. Especially when it's 0530 and the majority of the light is coming from the moon-the sun hasn't even thought about rising yet.

On top of all that, our platoon as a general whole wasn't sounding off. We weren't motivated; I was, but I was so busy trying to get instep and stay that way. So, when we got to the sand pits, we got smoked hardcore. Rolling around in the sand before sunrise, doing sit-ups, push-ups, running in place at a high, fast stride, In sand. Needless to say, it wasn't all that much fun, especially with the gas chamber yet to come.

Then, we ran an awesome obstacle course with lots of running, jumping, crawling, and climbing. I had an utter blast doing it all with Aberg as my battle buddy. (A strange sidestep here. I am originally from California. The last four years I liven there, I lived in a small town called Antioch. A cool place, and it's getting bigger constantly. Well, I met Aberg back at Reception Battalion nearly a month ago and he's from Antioch. We didn't know each other then, be we get along well now.)

After the obstacle course, about a mile long all together, we had breakfast. Another "slide and eat" meal. Hot aids. I don't mind them too much because I can eat and slide and finish my meal before I get to the end of the 50 foot-long table (If you reach the end of that table-you have no choice in not sliding constantly-it doesn't matter if you've eaten everything, you're done). The only thing is that I don't feel like I've really had anything to eat. I meant I finish eating before the first bite makes it much past my esophagus. Eh, no matter. I'm still eating, at least.

Then, we had classes on our protective mask, and how to go through the proper steps of adorning it. Well, I fell asleep and the Instructor of the class was nice enough to wake me up, send me to be back of the class, and get a wake-up and stay up smoke session by the Drill Sergeant.

We went outside afterwards. We got trained for nuclear blasts and getting down to, hopefully, survive. A nuclear blast will hit someone 2 miles away from the detonation point in a matter of 10 seconds or less with a light bright enough to cause permanent blindness as your last warning. The blast produces enough heat to liquefy your bones, near 20,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Radiation, too. After a moments exposure, you'll watch you arm wither and fall off within 20 minutes or so. You'd glow in the dark bright enough to become the new North Star.

I'm good at getting into the proper position quickly. In fact, I'm extremely fast at it, but other COBRAS weren't so quick or as motivated. So, since we were already training in the sand pit, DS Hockenberry didn't have to march us anywhere to smoke us for about an hour. An hour of turning to a direction as quick as possible, covering your groin with dominant hand on top, dropping to you knees, falling to your non-dominant side, and digging you face so deep in the sand that an ostrich would be envious. We rolled around and did some Front, Back, Go's too (front: push-ups back: sit-ups go: run in place). It was fun enough. Kept me motivated and made me stronger.

Then lunch. More "slide and eat." I finished my plate no sweat, and it was fine and dandy because we next headed to the NBC chamber to be immersed in an environment contaminated with CS (Concentrated Smoke). We all coughed; some puked. Snot running down our noses and hanging two or three FEET down from our nostrils. Is so damn fun!

One person adapted and was soon not even the slightest bit affected by the CS. He was holding conversations like it was a Sunday afternoon or something. Sadly, it was a little forced. During a smoking session, he broke down and fell to his knees. With his head in his hands, he cried like no grown man should. It was his payment to go without a mask. His redemption.

Me, my mask didn't seal properly. All the sand on my face, the straps weren't tight enough, my sweat compromising the seal-that's why soldiers have to shave everyday, but can maintain a small, neatly trimmed mustache...so that their Pro Mask will properly seal. Even so, I forgot to exhale to reaffirm the seal and man oh man, that's a mistake I won't make again. Then, when breaking the seal inside the chamber, I forgot to inhale first and I coughed for about a minute straight before I literally choked out, "Darren Gibson, (my social security number), Private, E-1, Drill Sergeant!" I nearly puked-I had to swallow it down-and I had a gallon of snot hanging from my nose so far that it could have touched the ground if I just bent down a little.

I loved it, even though it tore me apart. I want more and I know I'll get it soon enough. Hand-to-hand combat training begins tomorrow with our initial class. More fun, anyone?

well, after the gas 4th got motivated and we marched back to the company area. "Drag-ass hill" was no problem at our motivation level. It's a dirt/shell-paved hill that inclines for 100-175 meters at a 160 degree angle. It's rough, but motivation will carry you anywhere through anything.

On that note, we got smoked yet again, today. DS Hockenberry wanted to see of our motivation was true or false. He wasted to know how deep it ran in our veins. So, he smoked us until we were broken and then some. We are truly motivated, but still have "I can't" tendencies. Not a bad thing to hear from a DS that has been pissed off at you the whole day, but not the very best thing to hear, either.

Anyway, dinner was good, and once we stopped playing DS Bolin's "change your uniform" game, it was nothing but relaxation. It's 2203 now, and I have to be motivated in the morning for muscle failure (actually MS-Muscle Strengthening, which is push-ups, sit-ups, and the like). I'm getting to bed. Sweet dreams.

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Flashes of High School
Summer of Change
No Brass, No ammo
Lost in Translation

Last Five

And that's that.
Referenced #2
To write them.
Heart vs mind.