Chapter 6: Welcome to the Real Marine Corps...the training squadron

Graduation and Orders day. Nothing like a graduation in the commons area of the barracks. By 9:30, I was on my way to my new home, Marine Corps Air Station New River. It was a beautiful June afternoon. Sun was warm, a slight wind and lots of butterflies - in my stomach. I was still good friends with the guy with the car, so since he was on legal hold, I knew he wouldn't need his car, so I borrowed it to go check in. About 5 miles away, yet a 20 minute drive from Camp Johnson to the air station (Note: This is prior to the awesome bridge that Jacksonville has now. Heaven forbid it was there when I lived there), I entered the gates. I could hear the angels playing their harps as I entered the base.
I bet I was the only person who ever got lost on that base. I took a right once I got onto base, since the sign did say "New Check-ins" with an arrow pointing in that direction. The road was like the road to no where. I finally found the barracks, "HMT 204 Check-in." I didn't know what FREST meant, but I figured it was some crazy acronym that I would learn (Honestly, I thought I meant "First Real Enlisted Strength Test").  So I go in there and was laughed at by the Duty. "Nice. The new Admin Chick can't even read orders. Hey, You-who, why don't you check in with the squadron. This is where the students check in. You are permanent personnel." Then he rambled off directions as if I knew where I was going. Ass.  Then he asked me, "Where is your Firewatch Ribbon?" Confusion must have been written on my face because I had no idea what he was talking about. "Oh, yeah, you're a Boot. Welcome to the Fleet." Bigger ass.  I walked out that door wanting to practice some line training on him, but I was wearing my Alphas. Yeah, he was lucky I was wearing my Alphas.
I drove down the road on the side of barracks and wanted to cry. I had no idea what MAG stood for, HMLA, MALS, HMM, HMH...I was in acronym hell! So I decided to focus on numbers. 365, 167, 267, 29, 26, 266, 264, many numbers! Finally at the end of road, I saw 302 and thank GOD, 2-0-4! But it got tricky. There was that word FREST again...ugh. Common sense told me to turn right and for once, common sense was right.
I had no idea where to park in this mess, so I parked all the way by the Supply Building. Then I saw all these officers walking past. I must have saluted a gazillion and one times. Why are there so many officers in this place? Note to new check-ins: If checking into a Pilot Training Squadron during lunch hours, be prepared to salute!
I finally made it to the flightline. They never taught you in Boot Camp that once you walk onto a flightline, to take your cover off. Trust me, I learned in under 1 minute not to wear one. "Devil Dog, take your cover off." "Hey, Marine, no covers on the flightline." Hey, you, why are you still wearing your cover?" Didn't common sense tell them that I was Boot? Hell, I was carrying that black, plastic document protector and I was a PFC! Of course I didn't know.
After stopping on the flightline, with my cover off, I stared in total amazement. I think every trailer in the State of North Carolina was on the flightline. I hated this place already. I finally ended up finding the trailer for HMT-204 S-1, thanks to a nice Marine named Flounder (next time I saw him, he was on his way to the Correctional Custody Unit). I walked up to the door was locked. Are you kidding me? Took me 2 hours to find this place (on the base that size of a nickel) and the door was locked? I just wanted to punch someone.
Then my saving grace saw me in total despair. A short man hailing from the State of Louisiana, stopped me and looked at my orders. He told me the "Admin shop is at lunch, so go check in at Barracks 4020 and change into your cammies. I will tell the Admin Chief that you have arrived." Thank you, Jesus!
Since I knew where the barracks were, I found my way back there and learned NOT to go anywhere bearing the name FREST. I checked in and there was this fat Marine sitting at the desk with a plunger in his hand. He assigned me to a room that had two girls already in it and they didn't even have a rack for me. Nice. I have a room with no bed, wall locker or anything. Way to go Rockstar Barracks Manager.
I threw my crap in the room, changed and looked out the window. It was pouring down rain! Are you kidding me? Thank God I wasn't in my Alphas. Have you ever smelled wet gaberdine wool? If not, it smells like wet cat. Just my luck. So after changing, I ran back to the car. This rain storm turned out to be a Flash Flood and the streets were flooded. I pulled back into the squadron parking ran, ran like crazy, remembering this time to remove my cover, dropped my orders on the ground and my record book, scooped them up and ran to the S-1 Trailer. Locked. Still locked. Why, God, do you hate me? Then I noticed a sign that was taped to the door that said, "Admin closed. Practicing bowling." Left behind for the THIRD time. I was so mad and referred to my new shop as "Trailer Trash". I noticed a bunch of Marines in the hangar, so I ran over there. I figured they belonged to 204 since I saw the short man from earlier from a distance. I ran over and was laughed at. I was drenched head to toe from the rain and since a drop of water touched my hair, instant fro. My looked even better once the sun came out (that is sarcasm).
This was when I officially met a group of men called "Flightline". They gave me a broom (not because I was a witch, because they didn't really know me yet) and told me to help them scrub the deck. Welcome to the real Marine Corps and the Black Hole of the Marine Corps, HMT 204!
Once the rain let up, I saw a group of men walking towards S-1 and they unlocked the door, and walked in. Game time, Folks!
I checked in drenched. My Admin Chief was, how do I word this, dramatic about everything? I think his wife used to beat him. Then I saw a guy in the corner drinking water and leaning back far his chair looking like he was about to fall out of it. He took one look at me and busted out laughing. Then everyone else chimed in.
I was told to sit down with a Marine with a gold tooth in his mouth. He moved so slow. He even spoke  slower than he moved. My record book audit took forever and a day. Then the dip-spitting Northerner started in on his jokes and laughing at my check in suicide mission.  Out of no where, I hear someone yell, "Here's my jam....Come on, ride the train, hey, ride it, woo woo, Come on, ride the train, hey, ride it, woo woo." Are you kidding me? This is what the Marine Corps is like? Then some cocky guy pops in from the back door with another guy. I swear one sounded and looked like Elmer Fudd and the other was so full of himself, I secretly wished him dead. These were the people that I was stuck with for at least two years. You have got to be kidding me. This was just my first day out in the fleet. So help me God...


  1. Hahaha! Even I would have cried :-) The fact that you "assimilated" is kinda scary, no? :-)

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