Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Joshua's Greetings from Fort Leonard Wood

Greetings in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, Dear friends and family!

As most of you know I left home last year on November 16th and traveled down here to Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri for Basic Combat Training and Advanced Individual Training in order to join the Michigan Army National Guard. The Lord blessed me immensely throughout Basic Training and I am now officially a soldier in the United States Army. The Military Occupational Specialty I chose is that of MP – Military Police. I am currently in week 13 of training, week 4 of AIT.

Let me give you a brief synopsis of what BCT and AIT has been like for me. First off the weather has been brutal up until 2 weeks ago. We actually had to cancel a lot of training in December and January because of sub-zero temperatures. Our first week here was spent doing paperwork and getting our uniform and most of our gear issued to us at a place known as the 43rd. Our first day here at BCT was probably the worst day of my life. Drill Sergeants from our company, Echo Company 787 MP Battalion, were in our faces yelling and screaming like we were the worst privates ever. It was designed to be, and was, extremely frightening and demoralizing, also the push-ups and flutter kicks that we did for almost an hour in the rubber chip pit were extremely tiring.

The first 3 weeks of BCT are called Red Phase and are designed to break you mentally. The Drill Sergeants are in your face constantly, and the slightest mistake, or perceived mistake, will get you “smoked” i.e. push-ups, flutter kicks and other extremely tiring and painful exercises. Red Phase consisted mainly of getting used to the BCT schedule, such as waking up at 4:30 every morning, trying to eat our meals in less than 5 minutes, showering in less than 2 minutes, and lots and lots of PT.

As some of you already know, on December 18th I came home for a 2 week “Holiday Block Leave” and had just enough time to get used to civilian life again before coming back to FLW on January 2nd. When we got back, we started the second 3 week phase of BCT, White Phase. White Phase consisted almost entirely of weapons training. We learned to shoot and qualified with the M4 rifle, which is the U.S. Armed Forces’ primary weapon, and we also got to fire the M240 B machine gun, the M249 Squad Automatic Weapon (light machine gun), the M203 grenade launcher, the M2 .50 caliber heavy machine gun, and the AT4 anti-tank missile launcher. We finished White Phase and began Blue Phase, the last phase of BCT on January 25. Blue Phase was focused mainly on FTX 3 which stands for Field Training Exercise. What FTX normally consists of is setting up a base camp, running missions in the woods, sleeping in little pup tents, etc. At the end we are supposed to crawl through a course that has barbed wire, broken vehicles with flames and mock explosions while real live rounds are being fired over our heads. Unfortunately the weather was so icy and cold that we had to do almost everything here at the barracks. We weren’t able to do the obstacle course at the end of FTX either because the snow had started to melt and we literally could have drowned trying to back-crawl underneath barbed wire through 2-3 foot deep trenches and dips in the ground. The last night of FTX we received our 7 army values tags, (Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity, Personal Courage) and were officially made Soldiers in the United States Army. For me this is a secondary allegiance. I am a soldier of Jesus Christ first and foremost, the United States government second.

That pretty much concluded BCT and the next week after FTX, February 12th we started Black Phase, the first 5 week phase of AIT. AIT is where we will learn everything we need to know about being MPs so the first 2 weeks focused almost exclusively on learning how to properly shoot the M9 9mm pistol, our primary weapon when on duty as Military Police. The Lord really blessed me with skill with the M9, and I shot 2nd best in the company, hitting 29 out of 50 shots. Since we finished with the M9, training has consisted almost entirely of classroom work, learning about Military Law and how to deal with certain situations like conducting traffic stops, responding to domestic disturbances, how to properly direct traffic at a 4 way intersection, etc. We also have had some hands-on classes on handcuffing, how to properly apprehend (the army doesn’t call it “arresting”) a suspect/criminal, and personal defense tactics. We have already had 2 Law and Order tests which I passed easily (thank the Lord!) and now we are learning how to conduct patrols this week.

Now with only 4 weeks left to go, my daily prayer is that the Lord would keep me strong and pure in body, mind, and spirit, to complete the training that’s required of me, and stay pleasing in His sight. Thank you all so much for your continued thoughts and prayers. I Corinthians 16:23-24 – “May the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. My love be with you all in Christ Jesus. Amen.” ~Josh