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Posted 11/24/2015

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By Sean McBride

(This is a fictional account of what a Basic Training Soldier might experience with projects constructed by the Charleston District)

Dear Journal,

Private Richards here. Man, today was a long day. I can’t believe I reported here to Fort Jackson, in Columbia, S.C., for Basic Training almost eight weeks ago! Another three weeks to go though…

I haven’t had time to write until now because I’ve been a little busy learning how to shoot, rappel, march drill and much more, so let me get you caught up on my day-to-day life here. I’ve been assigned to the 3rd Battalion of the 13th Infantry Regiment and am being housed in a huge Starship! Not one that flies around in space, but it’s a newly-renovated facility here and I’m sharing a huge space filled with bunks for the few hours of sleep I get to share with my battalion of 1,200 Soldiers. The classrooms we use are right downstairs too, so that’s pretty convenient.

Before we started Basic, we spent a week in the newly renovated Reception Battalion barracks where we spent our days getting medical exams, filling out paperwork, getting our Battle Buddy and, oh yeah… I don’t have hair anymore.

Every day, I go to the Quad DFAC for breakfast, lunch and dinner to have a healthy, hot meal. No deep fryers in this joint… so I can’t even get “fries with that.” The Quad DFAC is pretty cool in that it is two two-story dining facilities attached to each other and can serve more than 5,200 of us Soldiers in only 90 minutes! That’s good because our drill sergeant says, “If you’re on time, you’re late!” So we need to get in and out quick. He just finished Drill Sergeant School here at Fort Jackson and we’re one of his first groups of Soldiers, so he’s running us hard to prove himself.

I’ve been getting pretty good at shooting a rifle the last few weeks on the really awesome 16-lane Modified Record Firing Range here on base. I had never fired a weapon before, but I’ve learned all about how to disassemble, clean and reassemble a rifle, and how to hit moving targets at varying distances from different positions like lying down, kneeling and standing.

We also spend a lot of time working on our fitness. Every morning we do PT together as a group. We push each other a lot, especially on long runs or at the track during our PT tests, but I like it best when we get to go to the gym to lift weights or play basketball. We’ve also been working on hand-to-hand combat in the PT pits, which are filled with recycled, shredded pieces of tires. We spend a lot of time learning combatives in there and it’s a nice outlet for our frustrations.

Let’s see, what else have I been up to? Oh yeah, a couple of nights ago we did some work on the Night Infiltration Course. It’s pretty incredible. We had to low-crawl along the ground under and around obstacles while flares and live gunfire were flying above us. It was one of the most intense things I’ve done so far but I think it will really prepare us for battle situations.

After I’m done with Basic, I’ll head into Advanced Individual Training. Not sure what I’ll do yet, maybe Field Artillery School or Engineer School, but there is a new AIT complex here at Fort Jackson for Adjutant General School if I become a human resource specialist or finance technician.

Well, I guess that’s about it for now. This has been pretty rough, but I’m growing, learning, and maturing a lot and I’m going to be a great Soldier. The drill sergeants here at Fort Jackson are tough, but they are making us the best that we can be so we can serve our nation!

Hooah! 13th IN! Forty Rounds! - Richards