Monthly Archives: February 2012

MMS giveaway – LAST day!

2nd Clothing Issue

Today is the LAST day to enter my giveaway for a free copy of My Memories Suite software!  If you haven’t already entered and were thinking about it – go for it!  Entries are low right now, so this could be your shot to win!  Check out the official entry page here.  Happy scrapping!

BMT: Duties and Details, Part 2

Happy Leap Day!  Today I bring you part two of Duties and Details.  If you’re just joining me now, check out the introduction and Part 1 (bed alignment, shoe alignment, End of Bed Display) here.

Fire Monitor
The Fire Monitor is a fancy phrase for trash man at BMT, or at least, that’s all our Fire Monitor did.  Your primary concern as the Fire Monitor is to take the trash out as soon as it’s full, and dispose of it in the dumpsters.  This is a pretty straight-forward duty, although you’re dependent upon everyone else doing their details in a timely manner so that you can get the trash out before lights out.  More than one, our trainees were making a late night power march out to the dumpster and back with their flashlights, trying to beat the clock.  You can fail an inspection if your trash can is too full in the middle of the night and you get hit with a non-duty, so it wasn’t uncommon for our crews to encourage everyone to wipe their hands on their clothes after washing, to avoid using paper towels.  The Fire Monitor is also responsible for cleaning and dusting the fire escape.  Your MTI will run his/her finger along every surface in your dorm, to ensure that there’s no dust anywhere.  The Fire Monitor(s) may be one or two trainees.

Utility Crew
This job is arguably one of the more demanding ones, aside from Latrine Crew and Laundry Crew.  We had three trainees on utility crew, including one designated as the chief.  Your dorm will have a closet in it where all of the cleaning items and laundry bags are stored.  No one is allowed in the utility closet except a student leader or a member of the utility crew, and even we always tried to respect their space as well.  If someone needs something from the utility closet, the utility crew must hand it to them – they cannot help themselves. 

For a room stocked with cleaning supplies, this place has to be impecably organized and clean at all times.  This is a difficult task, to say the least.  There can’t be any dust or hairs left in any cleaning brushes, and everything has a specific storage location.  You also can’t have any unauthorized items in your utility closet, so nothing can be stashed in there.  There is a max number of items you can have, so no more than a certain number of paper towel rolls or toilet paper rolls can be stocked.

Utility crew members must keep their closet stocked.  They’re responsible for going down to the main supply rooms in the squadron to get more of what they need.  In some instances, the supply room may be out of stock, so our utility crew would have to bed the baby flights or our brother flight to borrow items.  If they don’t have the required number of items, we could get dinged, hence the urgency.  The utility closet also includes spare hangers, which have to be bundled in groups of twenty, with no more than one hundred hangers in the closet.  If there were more, the utility crew had to run them down to the hanger closet in the squadron.  Do you get the impression yet that the utility crew is always busy?  They were!

Laundry bags are stored in the utility closet as well, and they tend to pose the greatest problem for both the laundry crew and the utility crew.  Both teams have to set up a system to distinguish between dirty and clean laundry.  We chose to have the open ends of clean laundry bags facing one way, and the dirty facing the opposite way.  If there was a wet spot on the laundry bag, the utility closet can fail an inspection.  A successful utility crew must work hand in hand with the latrine crew and the laundry crew.

Day Room Crew
Each dorm has a “day room.”  It sounds like it may be a comfortable place to entertain visitors (ha!) but it’s not.  The day room is primarily used for instructional purposes, when your MTI needs to address the flight.  The day room has a number of cushioned chairs, a few couches, and some end tables.  You are never to sit on these couches or chairs, and will be told that you are not allowed to do so until you earn the right as a graduated Airman.  There is also a bookcase, a desk with chair for your MTI, a podium, and an empty wall locker.  We also had a flat screen TV that never got turned on.  There is a white board on the wall for instruction, a mirror, and a bulletin board with some informational flyers.  You’ll also see various motivational wall decor items.  When you are in the day room, you’ll be sitting on the floor, in close proximity to others so that everyone fits and that there’s a clear walkway for your MTI.  The civilian luggage closet is located in the day room, and is kept locked at all times.  The day room crew is responsible for keeping this area clean, including polishing and dusting everything.  Again, your MTI will inspect the area with his finger for dust, as well as checking mirrors and framed items for streaks in the glass.  Furniture has to be aligned and straight.  The day room crew is also responsible for the civilian luggage closet.  Inside of that closet, civilian items are stacked one on top of the other, and must not go over a certain height.  Each bag is tagged with a cardstock luggage tag that must be filled out according to certain specifications that your MTI will share with you. This tag must be on the end of the bag facing out, and visible for inspection.  The day room crew will also do the floors in both areas.  This crew normally finishes quicker than the others, and can help out where needed.

Hallway/Chrome Crew
The hallway crew will sweep and clean the hallway, which includes a few bulletin boards, the Entry Controller (EC) stand, and most importantly, the chrome stripes on the ground as you step into each of the bays.  Be prepared for that finger tip inspection from your MTI!  No dust – anywhere!  You’ll be wiping down the walls, making sure the mirror is streak-free, wiping down the EC stand, the fire exit signs, the hardware on the door, the tops of the bulletin boards, etc.  As you enter the dorm, there’s a bulletin board immediately on the nearest wall, with a roster of the trainees authorized to enter the dorm.  You’ll also have a list of MTIs that are authorized to be inside of the dorm.  There will also be a reference sheet of access badges that are accepted in lieu of having a name on the roster or authorized MTIs.  We had two additional bulletin boards with other important notices and informational flyers, including off-limits places in the area.

The biggest task in the hallway was the chrome polishing.  Each dorm is given a roll of polishing cloth that’s about an inch wide.  You’ll cut it into 1″ squares and use those little squares to polish the chrome strips using teeny tiny circular motions.  You’ll reuse those strips until they practically disintegrate.  This is a pretty tedius job, to say the least, and your MTI will implement the policy that you can’t step on the chrome.  Many trainees remind themselves of this policy by saying the word “Chrome!” every time they step over those strips.

Stay tuned, more duties and details to come!

BMT: Duties and Details, Part 1

It’s high time I described some of the possible duties you could be assigned with at BMT.  After Dust Down each day, you’ll go to your assigned detail area where you’ll clean it to inspection perfection standards.  Your MTI will select who does these jobs, and may sometimes ask for volunteers.  My MTI questioned us initially, to figure out what our strengths were in.  Trainees who were artistic in nature, or good at visually eyeballing something got stuck with alignment.  Regardless of what is chosen for you, suck it up and do it to the best of your abilities.  Excellence in all we do, even if you don’t want to do it.  You will be resented by your fellow trainees and won’t earn any points in the eyes of your MTI if you shirk your responsibilities or fail an inspection because you didn’t do your job properly.  It is possible to get “fired” from your detail, if you can’t perform it to standard, and you’ll most likely be assigned to something less desireable of your MTI’s choosing.  If you do your job well, take initiative/be proactive, you can be recognized for your hard work.  Our MTI gave one trainee an additional phone call because she recognized one of the lights was out and went and got a replacement without being prompted.

I’ll present the different details/duties in a few different posts, that way this post isn’t insanely long.

Bed Aligners
Three to four trainees in your flight will be bed aligners.  Bed alignment is one of the priority details, as so many other details depend on the beds being done first, such as shoe alignment.  Our bed aligners frequently stayed behind in the dorm behind the rest of the flight or went first at chow, so they could complete their detail first.  Beds and bunks move with the slightest tap, so your bed aligners are an easy group to piss off if you mess up the beds.  Be kind, don’t bump the beds! 

Dorms have both bunk beds and single beds, with more bunk beds than singles.  I think our bay (two bays to each dorm) had approximately 7 single beds with the remaining 19 or so being bunk beds.  The single beds are closest to the front of the bays and the flight office, with the bunks in the back.  The bed aligners in our flight used long 2 by 4 pieces of wood to measure the distances between beds, as well as kite string to ensure that they were in line with each other across the aisles.  A 3′ piece of wood was used to measure the required 3′ that the first single bed had to be from the wall.  Each additional bed and bunk had to be 4′ apart, so we had 4′ pieces of wood for that.  Bunks and beds had to be aligned with each other across the aisle, so they were perfectly straight.  Our MTI brought bright pink kite string and our bed aligners would stretch it across the aisle, align the two furthest posts and kick the other two beds until all four posts were in line.  This process is repeated all the way down the line. 

Shoe/Chair Aligners
We had two trainees for shoe and chair alignment.  They used two long boards (spanning the length of a bunk/bed) and had to do all of the chairs and shoes in the entire dorm.  While the bed aligners were doing their thing, they’d be pushing the boards up agains the wall lockers and moving the chairs up against them so they line up with the edge of the wall locker.  Once the beds are aligned, they use the same boards to align the shoes.  Each bed is numbered and has an “inspection side.”  If you’re laying down (looking up at the ceiling) with your head on the pillow, the inspection side is to your right.  Your shoes are lined up so that they are flush with the edge of the bed.  The board is held up against the bed posts and the shoes are lined up so that the toes touch the board.  Shoes are lined up so that the first pair furthest to the left.  The order of the shoes is remembered by the rhyme, “Loose, Tight, Shiny, Wet, White.”  When all of the shoes are there, you’ll have a pair of loosely laced combat boots, tightly laced combat boots, your low quarters (oxfords worn with blues), your shower shoes (black flip flops), and your running shoes.  When in place, the heels are touching and each pair is right up against the next, touching at the balls of the feet.  Our MTI used to tell us that it wasn’t a parking garage – you’ll never have an “empty” spot in the line-up.  Shoe alignment is similar to bed alignment – it doesn’t take much to throw it all off, and trainees can very easily knock shoes out of place.  Don’t make more work for your poor shoe aligners, try to be respectful of their work and stay out of their way.

End of Bed Display
The last detail that involves working in everyone else’s personal areas is the End of Bed Display trainees.  We had two trainees that were assigned to this task.  The EOB display consists of your towel and your laundry bag.  These trainees will align the towel, to make sure the laundry mark is visible and properly displayed, and that the edges are aligned and flush with each other.  The towel is positioned on the footboard (nearest to the wall locker), all the way to the left, so that it’s touching that left bed post.  The right side is where your laundry bag will hang.  It’s a small cotton bag with a white drawstring at the top and a zipper along the bottom.  The drawstring top is wrapped and tied around the footboard.  The EOB trainees will ensure this knot is tight and that the strings hang straight down (and don’t cross over each other).  Laundry bags are not allowed to stay stuffed during the day, and if you’re inspected you’ll take a hit for this.  Many trainees try to get away with hiding clean laundry in their laundry bags, so they don’t have to fold/roll it.  You’ll do this to a certain extent, but you can’t have it overloaded.  Each laundry bag is required to have a certain number of mesh bags in it (you’ll buy these at the mini-mall and put your laundry mark on them) at all times, two, and you’ll have four total.  You’re also required to have two bundled up white kitchen trash bags in there as well, for placing wet laundry or mesh bags in.  Your MTI will set you up with these trash bags, or you’ll buy more at the mini-mall.  I don’t believe our EOB trainees examined the inside of our laundry bags to verify if these items were there.  Lastly, the EOB trainees examined the towel and laundry bag for any loose strings, trimmed them, and lint rolled both items.

Miscellany Monday

Finally got caught up at work, bring on the Miscellany!  It’s been a long weekend of training; I was orders Friday through Sunday, so there was little to no downtime this weekend, let alone time for chores.  Any teacher will tell you that planning for a sub and re-organizing upon your return is sometimes not even worth the absence.  On with the miscellany!

Miscellany Monday @ lowercase letters1.  Normally I’m really eager for UTAs and active duty orders, but this month is draining.  In a period of four weeks, I’m at drill three of those weekends.  It may seem like I’m whining, but when you factor in full-time employment on top of it, I haven’t had a lot of free time on the weekends.  This weekend reminded me why I don’t do office work as a full-time job.  I was more exhausted on Friday than I normally am teaching crazy high schoolers all day.  Sitting and staring at the computer screen, largely uninterrupted, doesn’t work for me.  It’s mind-numbing.  I think I would’ve rather been here at school!  Sundays are the worst; as soon as I bail from the squadron, I have to speed-shop my way through the commissary and then race home to do an entire weekend’s worth of chores in a few hours.  Not fun.  I’m hoping to get to relax tonight.

2.  Did you know…that if an Air Force aircraft hits a bird while in flight they need to take a blood sample or some downy feathers with a special kit and then submit them for DNA testing?  The Air Force documents the altitude, frequency of occurrence, migratory patterns, and analyzes the data to better inform their pilots.  Who knew?!  Yes, as a personnelist, I sat through this briefing.  You know, because I’ll be hitting birds flying in between buildings as I go back and forth.  😉


3.  I’m hooked on McDonald’s Strawberry Banana smoothies.  I used to work at Jamba Juice (for four years), so I know they’re not “real” smoothies, but I still can’t get enough.  The local Jamba is way too far away for me to frequent, so I have to settle for the McD’s.  I had one every day this weekend while I was on orders.  Nummy!

4.  I visited the education and training office again this weekend and was thankful to learn that our petition to earn credits in a few additional areas was granted.  Sadly, I still need three credits in speech, 0.34 credits (really?!) in math, and 0.34 in humanities.  So, I’ll have to test out of math or humanities (three full credits) in order to fulfill those measely 0.34 credits.  Taking a class is also an option.  *sigh*  I’ve signed up for the DSST test in speech for this weekend.  While I feel comfortable with the recorded speech portion, I received a 67% on my practice test for the multiple choice portion.  I’ve never taken a speech class – I don’t know the technical jargon, and I need to learn it all quickly.  Part of me is tempted to take a couple classes at the community college, just for fun.  I just don’t know how well I’d do on some of these tests.  We’ll see what happens.  Maybe a summer session at the community college is in my future.  I wouldn’t be opposed to it at this point, especially because I’d get to pick classes that sound interesting to me, rather than just taking a test…as long as my Tuition Assistance covers it!

5.  Easter is the best season for candy, hands down.  What are you munching on?  Here are some of my favorites!

 

6.  Have you entered my giveaway yet for a copy of My Memories Suite Vol. 3 software?  What are you waiting for, go for it!  I love MMS and can’t speak highly enough of how much fun it is to use!  Here’s another two pages that I’ve completed with the software.  
 

BMT: Wordless Wednesday

Enlarge me!
I snagged this via screenshot from Facebook (hence the arrows).  I can’t take credit for it, but it’s fantastic!  My understanding is that it was created by someone named Taylor James Garfield – well done sir!  If this is inaccurate, please contact me and I’ll credit you appropriately.

BMT: Squadron T-Shirt and Coin

Sometime during the 7WOT, you’ll sign a roster and cough up cash for your squadron t-shirt and possibly the squadron’s challenge coin!  It may seem like you’re constantly getting hit up for money, but you’ll be glad to hand this over – it means you’re almost done!  I think the total for both was under $15.  They make it fairly reasonably priced, as everyone in your flight needs to be wearing a squadron t-shirt for the Airman’s Run on Thursday of graduation weekend.  Your shirt will be in the squadron’s color with the training complex on the front breast and the full logo/motto on the back.  Prior to traveling to Lackland,  your family can do their research (on the

324 TRS, no longer at Cunningham.  🙁



The squadron challenge coin is not a required purchase, but there is usually a “package deal” for buying both.  Collecting challenge coins is popular in the military, and I knew I wanted to have one to remember where I was reborn as an Airman.


BMT: Racing for PT!

My Bib and 4th Place Trophy

One of the fun opportunities that may come up while you’re at BMT is the chance to run in a 5K!  Lackland AFB hosts a number of road races throughout the year, typically around the holidays.  I just Googled “Lackland AFB 5K” and multiple listings came up.


These events are not mandatory, as you’ll have to pay the registration fees out of your own pocket.  The fees are nominal – our race was approximately $15, and benefits went to a local shelter for women and children.  Remember, charitable giving and benefit work is huge in the Air Force, as you’ll document your participation for your EPR (Enlisted Performance Report) when you’re in the operational Air Force.  Almost all of the trainees in my flight participated.  It’s a great way to build motivation in your flight, and challenge everyone to see how their running has improved since they’ve been at BMT.  An MTI at your squadron will be in charge of organizing the participants from your squadron.  As a DC, I collected money from my flight members who were interested in participating and submitted the cash with a roster of our desired t-shirt sizes (sorry, forgot to snap that picture).

The Beach Run came up after we returned from BEAST.  The incentive for many of my trainees was the fact that we got out of regular PT that morning if we chose to do the race, and we jumped at that chance.  Flights can chose to run as a group or run as individuals.  We ended up running as individuals due to the fact that many trainees didn’t want to run the risk of hurting themselves prior to our 7WOT PT eval.  We dressed in our regular PT clothes and ran around the base, ending up at the retreat pad when all was said and done.  Some of the MTIs chose to participate in the race as well, and would encourage runners that were tempted to walk, although it was a fairly stress-free run.  

At the end of the race, trainees sat in flight formation on the retreat pad, and waited for the awards ceremony to begin.  Awards were given to trainees and non-trainees, in a multitude of age groups, as well as to flights and squadrons who ran as a group.  We ended up bringing home three awards to our flight, which was exciting.  I took home 4th place in my age group, a feat I chalk up to being an older trainee.  It’s the only award for running that I’ve ever received, and it was awesome to have my flight and my brother flight yell “DORM CHIEF!” as I jogged up to accept my award.

If you get the opportunity to do a race while at BMT, I highly encourage you to participate!  Racing energy is infectious and can encourage even the most reluctant runners.

Confession – Having recently returned from BEAST, I was used to filling up my canteen from those orange Igloo dispensers.  There happened to be some at the retreat pad after the race, so I went over to fill my empty canteen, only to discover later that I didn’t get water but purple Gatorade!  Having any sort of food or beverage on you (other than water) is scandalous at BMT.  I confessed my transgressions to an element leader and downed my clandestine beverage as quickly as I could.

BMT: My Challenge Coins

I have a couple more coins to share with you!  The first was a gift from my MTI, a tradition he continues to uphold for all of his trainees.  Prior to taking our EOC (End of Course exam), he let us know that anyone who scored a 90 or higher would receive a special challenge coin from him.  Granted, it takes more than just a 90 on the EOC to be designated as an Honor Grad, but that’s one of



The monument pictured is located at the Parade Grounds.

The second coin I received at BMT looks very much like



BMT: “Made It!” Postcard

Here it is, the “I Made It!” postcard that you’ll be sending home to a chosen loved one when you first arrive at BMT.  You’ll get only one of these cards, so figure out who’s going to get it (ideally before you go) and instruct that individual to pass that address along to every one who may want to write to you.  I sent mine to my husband with the explicit instruction that he post my address on our Facebook pages for friends and family.  Make sure anyone who plans to send you anything knows



The postcard mentions something I haven’t brought up on here – the Red Cross.  Your immediate family needs to be aware of how to contact you throughout your military career, if an emergency comes up.  If you’re on duty and an immediate family member dies/is dying or a spouse has a child, you can send a message to your military member through the chain of command by contacting the Red Cross.  This is typically the only way that the chain of command will verify that this information is accurate and then potentially authorize the member for emergency leave.  Don’t expect to have your spouse home from BMT for a child birth, however, if a parent, sibling, or spouse dies, they may be granted emergency leave to fly home for the funeral.  Give a few close relatives this information and the number for their local Red Cross.  I passed this info on to my father and my husband, in case something happened to one or the other.  Active Duty, find more information here; National Guard/Reserve, find more information here. 

BMT: Dust Down

“Dust Down” was one of my distinct privileges as the Dorm Chief of my flight at BMT.  Dust Down is the way your flight will keep the dorm clean, and is performed at least twice a day during duty days.  On Sunday you’ll do deep details, so you’ll probably only do Dust Down once in the evening.

Dust Down will be lead by the Dorm Chief, and is a series of directions that are given to the flight, which will then echo them back and perform the request.  The idea is to get the entire flight cleaning up their own area, so the entire dorm is clean within a period of ten minutes or less.  The more often you clean, the better your dorm stays inspection ready at all times and the less effort you’ll have to put out when you do clean.

I would stand at the end of the dorm, in between the two bays, where both A Bay and B Bay could hear me.  It wasn’t uncommon for our MTI, in his thick Puerto Rican accent, to say, “Why are we not doing Dust Down?  Let’s go!”  That was the signal for me to immediate start jumping into my script.  While we were beginning DD, someone from the Utility Crew would’ve already passed out rags (ripped up pieces of towel), so that each trainee had one.

Your MTI’s script and procedures for DD may vary, but mine were as follows.  They may not be verbatim, but they’re to the best of my recollection right now.  Every command is followed by with an allotted number of seconds to complete it in.  Each command and its count is echoed by all trainees.

Prepare for dust down!
Clear all chairs!
Weapons cases by wall lockers!
Tightly laced shoes on jail cells!
Window sills!
Chair boards and h-bars!
Bed rails and jail cells!
Floors!
Sweepers, go!

That was the first “paragraph,” if you will, of the instructions.  That “floors” part?  You’ll be on your hands and knees gathering up all of the dust bunnies with your rag.  You’ll shake out that rag in the center aisle, where the sweepers will go by and collect the piles.  The second paragraph included setting up our personal areas again – putting those chairs back, re-aligning shoes and weapons cases, aligning the towels and laundry bags on the end of bed display, and so forth.  The third paragraph has you open your wall locker and align all of the clothing items in there, the flashlight, and the BMTG.  Eventually, we became more responsible for our own wall lockers, so we skipped that last paragraph.  Once you get your wall locker perfect, you won’t want to touch it.

As the weeks progress, more and more of your flight members will be off doing other things during DD, so you may end up having to pick up the slack for your missing wingmen.  DD usually happened during nightly accountability, which meant I was gone with another trainee, which meant that an element leader took over for me, which meant three spots were unattended.  Get my drift?  It happens.  Help your wingmen out, they’ll repay the favor later!

DD should be a fairly easy task.  As you advance in your training, you’ll learn strategies to speed the process along, like putting the shoes and weapons cases up early, without waiting for the prompt.  Other trainees liked to do all of one task in their general area, while someone else did another task.  You can get in trouble during DD, but only if you’re not moving with a sense of urgency, or not pulling your own weight – dirt bag trainee moves.  Don’t be a DBT.

After DD, you’ll report to your individual duty areas.  I’ll be describing those shortly on the blog, so stay tuned!