In this article, we take a look at something different from the Marine Corps experience. For those joining the Navy, it is still important to prepare yourself for Boot Camp. As a Navy Veteran myself, I feel that it is very neat to be able to share this information with you.
First is the great luxury plane ride. For most recruits, getting to Great Lakes, Illinois will consist of a plane ride from the nearest airport of your home residence to metro Chicago. Some (including myself) were even lucky enough to get the first night (before starting the Navy) in a hotel, free of charge. The Navy had to bring me in the night before and put me up in a hotel due to the flight schedules. This was awesome as it started to paint a mental picture in my mind that Boot Camp might not be so bad after all.
So the adventure started out great with an awesome plane ride to Chicago. I even had time to sit down and enjoy the USO at the airport, and I was on Cloud 9 thinking that if this is what the Navy was all about, this will be easy. But about 2100 hrs (or 900 PM for civilians), events started to change fast. We were lined up outside the USO single file and told to face forward. I was thinking “oh no, now what did I get into”? Then the RDCs (Recruit Division Commanders) started hollering and screaming at all of us in the line. Marching out to the bus single file, I was asking myself if I can still turn around and go home.
The bus ride consisted of about one hour of peace and quiet. None of us recruits were talking, as we knew that we had entered a whole new world. Once we arrived at the RDC Center in Great Lakes, we were offloaded from the bus and sent inside the staging room of the building. There, we were given a brief phone call to let our loved ones know we made it and not to expect another call for a while. Next, we were told to sit on the floor in rows with an arms-length distance apart between the person in front of you and behind you. We sat for about one hour before we moved forward to the drug test. Then we had to stand outside and wait our turn to pee for about another hour.
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Next, we were marched into a room and issued our Navy clothing. We were given a small mailing envelope to place our civilian attire and items to ship back home. We then changed into our SMURFS (indoctrination week uniforms) and sat back down in the hallway for another hour. Finally, we were marched over to the barber shop and had to sit waiting our turn to get our BUZZ cut. It was quite a sight to see all the hair hitting the floor. All the long haired kids were suddenly bald and sure looked different.
From there, I think we were now at about 2 AM or 3 AM in the morning, we were marched over to a “ship” (as they call it), and given a blanket, one pillow and assigned a cot to rest on. It felt good to rest, but such a shame it wasn’t longer. Soon the RDCs were knocking over the trash cans and waking us right up, and hollering at us, letting us know we were pretty much on the bottom of the Navy food chain.
We started off Day Two with a good old run and exercise workout, followed by a five minute shower and then put back into our SMURFS. The we got lined up for a march to the chow hall. In the chow hall, you find that it is very quiet and not a lot of talking going on. No one wanted the RDC to holler at them (or even worse, force them to hold their plate and eat standing up), but the chow hall food was pretty good for what you can taste in ten minutes.
Day Two consisted of a lot of classroom work, allowing us time to sleep – oh wait no – don’t sleep or you will find that you become a pushup king very quickly. These classes consisted of administrative material such as setting up all your payroll information. We also learned about the Navy inside and out. The classrooms were pretty warm. I guess that was to see how strongly you were willing to stay awake. Throughout Boot Camp, you also drink a lot of water in order to stay awake and to hydrate for physical training.
This pattern of activity continued for the next five days – a time frame at Basic Training that is referred to as “P-Days” or “Indoc Days”. In a future article, I will discuss the subsequent stages of Navy Boot Camp.
For Part 2, Click Here.