Originally Posted by John Holland
I plan on locking myself in the room and practicing guitar all the time, yes. I also plan to stop sleeping altogether, if that helps. So exactly how
brutal is technical training? I like to gather as much information as possible, the sort my officers might not tell me
***John asked me this question on another post in a gear thread because he is joining the Air Force soon. My response would have totally derailed that thread, so I have moved it here...
Let me give you the lowdown of what I went through. The Air Force is reportedly a little more slack than army/navy/marines, but should be fairly similar at least.
Boot camp- First off, you won't have much contact with actual officers for a while. You will be endlessly bossed around by senior enlisted assholes who you will have to treat like officers and salute during boot camp. Keep your mouth shut and stay out of the limelight unless you are asked to offer something up and you actually have something to offer. There will be plenty of racist fucks, crying bitches, and total dipshits in your boot camp company to keep the spotlight off of you if you just let them be retarded on their own. Avoid the temptation to break any rules no matter how stupid they seem or how sure you are that you can get away with it. There will be people watching you constantly so it is difficult to even masturbate without getting spotted. The shitters will not have doors on them so if you gotta jerk off, go in the middle of the night and be quiet about it. The guys who jerk off in bed are always noticed and talked about. You will hear all kinds of crazy rumors like "they put salt peter in the eggs to keep you from getting erections". Just ignore all the urban legend crap and laugh it off. Do not fall asleep in class. During the first week they will pick company officers. The biggest and baddest mofo will be the Master at Arms. You do not want to be the RCPO (Recruit chief petty officer) in charge of the company. This is a highly stressful position and will be of no future benefit to you since you already have your school guaranteed. If you can get yourself hooked up with one of the other leadership positions available, do it. I'm not sure about the Air Force setup, but I was the Port Watch Section Leader. This meant I didn't have to stand barracks watch and during service week I did light paperwork for a dentist while the regular guys were all slaving 16 hours a day in the galley. How did I get this job? Simple. When the company commander asked if anyone was artistically talented, I raised my hand with confidence and delivered on my claim by doing several drawings for him. This got me noticed immediately in a positive way. Then the company commander asked everyone if they believed in the Virgin Mary (straight out of Full Metal Jacket, which you should watch several times before you go in) and for those of us who didn't to raise our hands. Out of 80 guys, four of us raised our hands. After much verbal badgering the other three pussed out on their stance and embraced Jesus. Since I was the only one who was man enough to stick to my ideals I was given a leadership position. In fact this position had already been given out on a volunteer basis to another guy before, but he was one of the three who pussed out on the Virgin Mary thing, so he was fired and I was hired on the spot. Regardless of all that, keep your shoes shined, your rack made neatly, and your clothes and toiletries folded, cleaned, ironed, and stored exactly to specifications. If someone else's shit looks better than yours, find out how they did it and then make yours look as good or better. Find out ahead of time what the physical requirements are for push-ups, situps, and running. Make sure you can do at least 30% more than the requirement before you go in (ours was 50 pushups, 30 situps, and a mile and a half in 12 minutes). You will be given a series of shots which will make you sick and weaker than usual. If you cannot meet basic physical standards, you can end up in a world of hurt. If you fuck up repeatedly, you will end up in midnight rifle aerobics and your 5 or 6 hours of sleep will become 2 or three hours of sleep. Then you will end up falling asleep in class and then you will get fucked again. Study test material as much as possible. If you have long hair, cut it off before you go in so you don't get pre-judged as a dirtbag. Like I said before, there will be a shitload of complete assholes there and you will have to keep highly disciplined mentally to ignore them. Do not get into verbal fights and under no circumstances get into a physical contact situation with anyone. Your schedule will be packed and the time will go by quickly if you study hard and laugh everything off. Just don't laugh at the wrong time. I almost got into big trouble by laughing out loud when the company commander was making an example of someone while we were in ranks. He pulled the classic "Are you laughing at me?" routine and I had to swallow my pride to b.s. my way out of that one and it was very difficult for me to stop laughing at that point. Odds are you won't be seeing more than a few of those fuckheads again after boot camp, so don't worry about making friends or enemies, just stay neutral. What was the best part? The gas chamber. That was cool as shit. Just try to position yourself in the front of the line. You will likely march to the back of the chamber and do an about face. The gas causes everyone's sinuses to clear out and if someone is behind you there is a good chance you will end up with large amounts of their mucus all over your back. Many of the other guys will be dirty fucks who don't brush their teeth, wipe their ass, or wash their hands and walk around picking their nose and their butt in full view of everyone else. Avoid physical contact with people and high traffic objects and never walk on the floor barefoot. There will likely be convicted criminals, gang members, thieves, and sex offenders in your company. Trust no one fully and don't allow yourself to become a target. When you get your first cash allotment from your paycheck do not turn your back on your locker without first locking it. Do not try to sneak anything into bootcamp that is not allowed. Do not let anyone send you anything in the mail that is not allowed. If you are sent food in the mail make sure you share it with people. If everyone else is going to church on Sunday and you don't want to, just bite the bullet and go. It will be amusing entertainment and will be one of the few places where you will see cute civilian girls during your stay. If you are exceptionally smart and have high ASVAB scores, you may be singled out as arrogant if you are not careful to stay modest. Basically, do not stand out in any way at all except in those ways that your company commander expects you to.
Technical school - During school hours and on duty days basic boot camp behavior rules apply. During the first 16 weeks I was duty free because I volunteered as a tutor. After that I was moved to the "senior" barracks and was made a Duty Section Leader which meant that I didn't have to clean or stand watch on duty days. At school I was the class leader which meant I didn't have to clean anything at the school. Usually these positions are given to people with seniority and I got them because my prior college coursework qualified me to enter as an E-3 instead of an E-1. Keeping these positions is a different story. Most people given these jobs end up getting themselves fired and they are replaced by the most "squared away" individual. Take nothing for granted. If you do not have strong math skills or prior experience with electronics, you will need to study your ass off. The course will be fast and will cover a lot of ground. We had a different subject every week and one comprehensive test for it on Friday. If you fail the test you are held back a week. If you fail three tests you are on probation. If you fail five tests you are pulled out of school and all guarantees are gone. You are sent to the fleet as a deck seaman and life is now shit for you. On the contrary, if you stay out of trouble, ace all your tests, and demonstrate leadership abilities, you will get some awards and have your pick of orders after school. I was in a class of 15 guys. At the end of school there were 6 fleet orders which included a 'C' level system school followed by a ship which was known ahead of time to be stationed in a particular port. There was one order for 'C' school with an as yet unknown ship depending on how you did in 'C' school. Then there were 8 orders for the fleet as an undesignated Firecontrolman (not good, but not that bad either in the long run). Choice of these orders was based solely on academic performance. Since I had the highest test average I got first choice which meant that I knew I would be spending the rest of my enlistment in southern California since that was where I wanted to be.
After school - Performance equals advancement. Advancement equals money. Money equals more guitar toys and such. Do not fall in with the lazy crowd who are just getting by until their enlistment is up. You will want to be their friends of course because you have to work with them and often times they will be working for you if you are a performer. I maintained my high standards of work and academic performance and was advanced to E-6 in 4 years and 9 months. Most guys take 10 to 12 years to do this. This is easy money. Rank gives leadership, leadership gets you out of shitty details and gives you more choice over your own destiny and workload. It gives you choice of good things like special schools which make you even more valuable. It allows you to reward the guys in your workcenter who deserve it and to fuck over the guys who deserve that. It is a fine line you must walk in order to be popular with the people you work for and simultaneously the people who work for you. Pulling this off was natural for me, but was still difficult. I had some fuckheads in my workcenter who would try to get away with not doing their jobs in the hopes that I would do it for them to keep myself out of trouble with my boss. Usually what I would do in these situations is gather the good guys together and promise them that if they helped me do this guy's work that he refused to do and cover for his incompetence or laziness, the slacker would get the short end of the stick when the next opportunity arose. These opportunities arose often. When my chief tells me I need to give up one of my guys for a six month tour cleaning berthing areas (including some of the nastiest bathrooms you've ever seen in your life) guess who went? Did he go down and have an easy time of it? Hell no. I don't even have to say shit myself. Word gets around fast. The guy running berthing knows the guy I sent there is a shitbag and being in charge of berthing is a very lax job with plenty of time to look over people's shoulders and make sure they do their fair share of the work. The funniest thing about it all was that at the end of my six year enlistment I was able to confidently turn down a $60,000 re-enlistment bonus knowing that I could get a good job in the private sector thanks to my record and experience. Most of the guys who fucked off ended up re-enlisting to support the family they created during their enlistment or to pay off debts that they had racked up. The other guys mostly ran home to mama. There is a tight group of guys I know from my ship who still live and work here in San Diego by choice seven years after we got out of the Navy. We watch each other's backs and hook each other up with better jobs when possible. These guys and their families will always be part of my family and vice versa even if we don't hang out much anymore. We have all gone through minor substance abuse phases, relationship problems, and job problems but we will never turn our backs on each other. The two things I fucked up in the service that I should have done were not playing guitar enough and not finishing my bachelor's degree. Taking classes while you're in is easy and basically free. It is difficult to get highly technical classes so I copped out because I was going for a B.S. in Electrical Engineering. What I didn't realize was that I should have just gotten whatever bullshit degree was available to me because that gives you the right to enter almost any other school with no problem and it doesn't hurt your resume either. If the Air Force is to your liking, you will have the opportunity to go Officer and get a free ride through whatever school you want in exchange for more years of service. If it's still to your liking after that you can retire at 20 years and have a guaranteed paycheck for life and free medical for life. If you get a minor disability (could be something as stupid as a scar) you can get all future college tuition paid for for your wife and kids if you have any ever. No matter where they send you, you will be able to play guitar and you will likely be able to form bands at your base of operations. I was in a band on my ship and we played a couple of shows out at sea on the flight deck to a crowd of around 400 people. We had some of the Marines moshing their asses off and everyone else was just dumbfounded by our covers of Slayer, Carcass, and Sepultura. I also played with another band on base and we did a few shows at a bar on the base. There were a few other different bands in our unit as well.
The military was a lot of fun, but it was also a living hell so I could not see myself spending another 14 years in it no matter how good the benefits were. I would still have 7 years left to retirement, and considering the experiences I've had since then and conversations with old friends who stayed in, I can't imagine that I would have been able to handle it for that long without going insane. Once you hit E-6 or Officer, it's all paperwork, management, and ass-kissing from that point on and you won't believe some of the fuckheads you will have to work with. I could write a full novel on some of the people I met there and maybe I should someday. The most incompetent people stay in for the full twenty because it is a cake job and it is damn near impossible to get fired. Most of the outstanding performers who don't burden themselves with families and debts get the fuck out as soon as they possibly can. A common scam that people pull is to get a fake marriage certificate or marry a friend. Married people get more money at payday. If you try to pull this off you'd better make sure it's a real marriage and you'd better make sure you trust the girl implicitly. You also better give her half of your extra profits. You'd better wear a fucking ring and you cannot trust anyone with this information. It is common for people's spouses to stay home while you are in the service, but you had better act married 24/7 and answer up as if you are married when asked. And forget about openly dating anyone. Go out and get your one night stands like all the other cheating husbands do when they are separated and pretend you're one of those bastards until the day you get your DD214 discharge papers in hand. That girl had better have a phone number that only she will answer and she had better be up to date on your "marriage" and where you are and what you are doing. Would I do this knowing these facts and doing it all over again? Absolutely (I wish I had done it). Why? I strongly believe that the idea that a guy gets more money for the same job just because he is married is total bullshit. These fuckers will also get preferential treatment a lot of times because "they have to get home to their families". Fuck those guys. If you can't beat 'em, join 'em. I consider this to be justice and that money should be considered a scholarship fund for people smart enough to bypass this particular loophole. I love our country and all, but that shit just pisses me off and I have no respect for the people who legislate this kind of crap. If anyone reading this is pissed of by what I am saying, you'd better think real carefully about the reasons you think a married person deserves more money because you are kidding yourself bigtime.
On the subject of drugs, the military is zero tolerance these days. Marijuana stays in your body fat. They do not test all samples, so just because you smoked pot three days before a random screening and did not get popped that does not mean your piss was clean. People talk. People narc. There will be people at your command who are in trouble for one reason or another and can be rewarded for being a narc. You may find out who some of these people are after you've been there long enough, but it might be too late by then. If someone reports you, they will personally screen you and believe me I have seen this exact scenario go down multiple times. Getting kicked out for drugs is not as bad as they will try to tell you it is, but it's no fucking picnic either. I saw several friends and a shitload of strangers wash out for drugs and most of them had to run home to mama for support. The others had to couch surf until they were able to get some shitty job and eke out a living. One guy I know beat the system and got an honorable discharge because of extenuating circumstances and because he has a way with words and is able to manipulate people easily. Do not believe that this is anything you can premeditate or "will" to happen (not to say that you shouldn't try if you've been popped already).
I hope this helps you out. This turned into the small novel that I always wanted to write for people in your situation, so here you go. If you know anyone going into the service or if anyone else reads this and knows someone who is going in or is thinking about it, please feel free to copy this for them. This is all real deal no bullshit information right here.
Good luck bro...