Hello again! It’s Haley and I just received another blog letter from our girl! Without further ado, here’s Erin!
By the time you all read this, 4th of July will have passed. I hope you all had a memorable holiday with family and friends, being mindful of all those who’ve died and served (and are serving) in order to preserve our freedoms. We’re two days away from the 4th over here, but it’s going to be a normal day for us, complete with PT, inspections, and drill practice. It’s a far cry from Cripple Creek and rhubarb pie, but it’ll do.
We are about to finish up our 4th week of training. The 5th week (the start of it) marks the halfway mark. Things are no longer moving slowly like they were in the beginning. This last week was packed! On Tuesday we went to the obstacle course. There are 17 obstacles total, and when you’re not on one, you’re jogging/running in place. I did much better than I expected. There’s an obstacle out there (the weaver) that has been around since 1962. I just keep thinking that FIL had probably done the same obstacle. I was most proud of the fact that I crossed the suspended rope “Ranger style” and made it all the way across. I did hit the water on the rope swing and the subsequent monkey bars.
Wednesday was our 4th week of training PT evaluation. We have one more evaluation in our 7th week of training and we’re done for PT evals. I ran my 1.5 miles in 11:34, which is 20 seconds faster than my previous time, despite a sore ankle (I landed on it wrong on the obstacle course). My push-ups and sit-ups aren’t anything to write home about (13 and 34 respectively), but I’m trying to improve. DH was right, my improper form has held me back. You can only imagine what it was like trying to do a PT evaluation after the obstacle course. We’re all covered in bruises–I have a big black one on my inner arm, and others on my thighs. I can’t wait to get a full body massage when I get out of here! 🙂
After our PT eval on Wednesday, we boarded a bus for the gas chamber. We received a long briefing, donned chemical protection gear (including gas masks), and went into the chamber. I could feel the tear gas burning around my hair line. After removing our mask in the chamber, we gave reporting statements and walked out. My eyes watered intensely and I kept them shut as we walked back to our gear. The highlight of the say was having an MRE for lunch! I had the cheese tortellini and it was great, and they come with candy! I had Peanut M&M’s, although we had to eat them so quickly I didn’t have time to really enjoy them.
Thursday was another pivotal moment–we were issued our dress blues! Although we don’t get to wear them until 7th week, we’re issued our dress blues early since we have pictures during 5th week. (Haley side note: these pictures are available via Facebook on the AF training page if you want to see Erin!) Everyone was eager to don their flight caps and march around the dorm. Of course, I had to do my best flight attendant impression. Side note for all of my rockabilly friends — our lightweight coat is totally a Ricky jacket. 🙂 Another highlight? (Yes, all of our highlights revolve around food). We had box lunches with Oreo cookies! We even had 30 minutes to eat (unheard of), so everyone was thankful.
We finished off the week on Friday with our weapons evaluation. We had to disassemble and reassemble our M16AR training weapon in 4 minutes, which is a ton of time. I can do the entire process in 1:01 and probably even faster (during that time I was struggling with my bolt cam pin).
Busy week, huh? This 5th week we’ll be busy preparing for BEAST, which is our week-long field exercise/deployment. We also have a flight drill evaluation, which will determine whether or not we’ll be able to compete/qualify for warrior flight (a distinction of excellence). I’m concerned about how our flight will do, since a few really struggle with marching.
One last thing — I got to practice retreat yesterday with a 7th week female dorm chief. Retreat is the name of the official graduation ceremony on July 28th. I will be called forward by my MTI, render a salute, and take command of my flight. I also carry the tray of Airman’s Coins, which my MTI presents to all the trainees. I was cautioned that my family will be just a few short feet away from me during all of this, so military bearing is essential.
Overall, it’s been a good week, and a great morale boost/motivator for all. We had a few compliments this week and were asked to counsel some of the younger females on hair, fraternization, bed making, etc. Not that long ago, we were getting yelled at by the same MTI, so it means a lot to be making some headway. I’m 27 days away from graduating, and it can’t come fast enough. These next few weeks should fly by, thankfully, and I’m excited to see DH, all decked out in my blues. I don’t know if I’ll be able to write again, but I’ll update ASAP, probably en route to tech school. Keep your fingers crossed that we finish strong!