04 August 2007

BOLCII Day -1 Saturday

Up about 0830, Recon trip day to Ft Benning. Take I-85 South, the end of 85 is literally the front gate of Ft Benning. Stay in the left lane (visitor) and pull into the visitors building parking area just before the main gate. You will near your ID, drivers license, registration and proof of insurance and reason for visit (tell them assignment) They gave me a 30 day temp paper pass. Ask for a map of where to register your car and where the “welcome center/Soldier plaza” is. They don’t have any BOLCII info at the visitor building so print out the maps/driving instructions before hand from the Ft Benning web site unless you want to become lost. (see why below)

Here was the frustrating part… I drive to the vehicle registration building and the sign says Mon-Fri 0730-1730! Ok so I drive on to find this “welcome center” with lots of maps just waiting for me …I spent almost an 1 hour looking for it. I found the “Soldier Plaza” no problem (it is a collection of 20-30 old barracks style buildings for different administrative purposes, Medical records, school, family etc) but no welcome center. So print your maps like I did before hand. I found the report building 2749 and marked it on my GPS so I will be good to go tomorrow.

After having spent the afternoon driving the base finding important things like the clothing exchange, PXs, ATMs and on base food. The clothing exchange is pretty well stocked so if you need something (no major CIF type items though) they should have it. I did pick up a LED light system for my ACH for night land nav (Thanks to LT Marshall for this one) it was pricy at $40 but it will be worth it to keep both hands free.)

I next went to Ranger Joe’s storefront to get my rank sown on my 2 patrol caps, boonie hat, ACH cover (thanks to LT Miller) as my understanding is that sew-on rank is painfully mandatory. It only took about 15 minutes, they have great service. I also brought one set of woodland BDUs with me from OCS (for combative week, apparently the ACUs get torn up big time, and I don’t want to pay for another set!) they still had BDU caps in stock so I had them sew everything back on as in Michigan OCS we had to strip our uniforms during for an extra measure of humility. I picked up a few other items including a 1-3 point harness for the M4 we will be issued as I understand from other LT’s that the low ready will be the carry and factory slings don’t work for that unless you want to hang on to it all the time. I hope they are right at $54! Also picked up a small Otter box (thanks also to LT Miller) for protecting my phone and camera in the field.

Extra tip, pick up as much as you can from the Clothing Exchange etc because Ranger Joe’s and other stores like them are going to stick it you at least 30% more for the same item.

Came back to the hotel and took a short nap. I am realizing that coming down a day early to recon was good but at the same time I am starting to go crazy with the “unknown, but know something stressful is coming factor.”

I realize I need to do something physical to relive the stress or I’m going to go nuts so about 2000 I put on my PT’s and head back to Ft Benning to run the Airborne track I had recon’d earlier in the day (I understand this is where BOLCII APFT will be held) to compare my last 2 mile time. After I got 3/4s away around the 1 mile track I realize there are two different ways to run it, I decide to run one long and one short (relatively speaking of course!) Afterwards I believe it should only have been both times around the shorter track. Time will tell but I will be fine ether way. After I get back to my car I start to feel the effects of heat stress and so I check my cars temp and it reads 101! No wonder, this climate will take some getting use to! With the A/C full blast I down a Gatorade and feel safe enough to drive back. The point is, maybe you should not attempt a 2mi timed run if you are from a northern state and it is your first day in GA in the hottest month in the year – something about acclimation!

Back at the hotel I jump in the shower and head to Applebee’s for some food, I had a small breakfast this morning and that was it so I need to eat even though I don’t feel like it. I felt like a total loser going solo and having a conversation with myself (no, not quite that bad but almost!) Tip, put some serious effort into trying to coordinate ahead of time to link up with another LT going to BOLCII (National Guard contacts, ArmyOCS.com message boards etc).

Back at the hotel courtyard, I try and find a quite corner to relax outside but it is very obvious that the half the enlisted population at Ft Benning has decided to book rooms here with their buddies and are consuming copious amounts of $4.25 hotel beers. I decide I better go back inside before I see something that I would be compelled to do something about as a officer. Back in the room I spend time calling home and friends and them watch the rest of “300”. It is about 12:48 before I finally kill the lights.

No comments: