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June 14th I left my home for Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. I was running on about four hours of sleep because I was nervous to leave home and go to a place I’ve never been. I can honestly say I regretted my decision. I arrived at the airport at nine and sat there for about seven hours, I couldn’t sit still to save my life. I was beyond nervous. My stomach felt as if it was tied in knots. I even tried to sleep, but everyone knows the chairs at the airport aren’t that comfortable. I finally boarded my flight at 3:45 P.M. and once again I tried to sleep but I had never flown before; I was curious about what it was like. I had two flights scheduled that day, both roughly an hour long. The first flight was slightly delayed.  My plane tickets didn’t have the gate numbers printed on them. When my flight landed in Minneapolis, Minnesota I had to run to the departures board to find my next gate. I had ten minutes until my next flight. I remember hearing, “Gate C5 last call, gate C5 last call, now boarding” I had no idea where I was going but wherever it was, I was running. I found my gate and ran down the hall and got on the plane. Once again I could not sleep so I just looked out the window.

I landed in St. Louis, Missouri and walked to the USO which is a nonprofit organization that provides live entertainment, such as comedians and musicians, and other programs to members of the United States Armed Forces and their families. That was on THE OTHER SIDE OF THE AIRPORT, where I signed in and the nice gentleman told me to go get some food and be back in exactly twenty minutes or else I’d miss the bus to reception (the 43rd). The restaurant he told me to go to took FORTY MINUTES to take my order and make my sandwich, so I obviously missed the bus by this point. The guy told me I’d have to wait for the next bus at 10:30 P.M. It was only 7:45 P.M.

The first day was the most stressful day of my life. Drill sergeants screaming in my ear, surrounding me,coming out of nowhere, making me screw up the most simple things. I really wished I hadn’t signed that dotted line. Some kid threw up.  Some girl almost got beat up by another girl, and I almost got clothes lined by a drill sergeant.

Thankfully, the drill sergeants calmed down after the first week. They stopped waking us up with bullhorns, screaming in our faces, and dumping our trash cans around the bays, that was disgusting. Eventually we caught on to the things that irritated the drill sergeants and we were learning the ropes. Red phase was a lot of briefing on sexual assault/ harassment, suicide, nutrition,etc. During white phase we went to the range to practice rifle marksmanship with 25, 50, 75, 100, and 300 meter targets. There was one week we went to the range every day except Sunday (due to religious services).  It was 109 degrees the entire week. One male was bitten by a wolf spider and rushed to the hospital. During week seven we had a combative tournament which resulted in me having a black eye, a lump on my head, and a cut on my face. Week nine was FTX 3 (field training exercise), three nights and four days in the field followed by a ten mile ruck (rucksack filled with 50 pounds of supplies) march to finish basic training.

Overall, basic training was a great experience, I made many friends that I will cherish forever.  The decision to join the Michigan National Guard has made a positive change my life as well as those around me. 

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The student news site of Ionia High School
Growing Up Fast