Survivor

This post was inspired by a certain youtube star who went on a reality show and choose to leave. I always hate when people make the choice to leave a competition reality show. Ink Master, Big Brother, etc, unless you have an injury – it pisses me off- why? Because I lived through Air Force basic training, despite the fact  I suck at life.

Week 0- Welcome to Hell.

Girls from all over the country are flown into San Antonio. As a 23-year-old with a worthless art degree, I had never even been to Texas. This was already a win. We were herded into a room where we sat on the floor awaiting our squadron assignments.

Once we got them there was not one but four DI’s yelling at us to get to our quarters and unpack. I knew this was what I signed up for and growing up I was always yelled at by my parents, so – what ever.

But week 0 broke one girl. A short Asian girl who for whatever reason wore mascara to her first day of basic. She got yelled at. and hours later she claimed to have slipped in the shower, breaking her ankle. Everyone from the popular girls with boyfriends back home, to the socially awkward nerds, called BS.

Week 1- Every building had 2 floors, so we had a ‘brother’ squadron below us. This was their tale of insanity and why they lost phone privileges.

We had to go to clinic where anyone who wore glasses would receive their BCG (birth control glasses- since they were so ugly- but they were durable and would last through BT. ) The story, as our brothers told it- one guy started screaming- while waiting in line. He was shouting random profanity as if only now realizing what he signed up for.

This was the clinic! We hadn’t even been issued our uniforms yet! He was taken to the side to calm down but when he returned he tried to make a break for it.

Because of his insanity, his entire squadron was punished by having to watch us girls use the pay phones to call our families.

Week 2, 3

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I sucked. I suck as marching, at running. Hell, I even sucked at eating. We are supposed to eat as fast as possible. But here is a tip – never ask the Cafeteria lady for only a protein. It was so lovely to get called anorexic for trying to shave a few minutes off my meal time.

Our squadron LEADER was a gymnast-thin nineteen-year-old divorced mom. So the one good that came out of the DI’s assuming I had an eating disorder was that both of us got an extra five minutes to eat.

Week 4- Hell week.

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We had to go to a part of the base made to look like Iraq. The DI’s stayed behind leaving the mean girls in charge. I was one of only three who failed the shooting test (luckily that is not an automatic discharge). Every day that week the mean girls got to assign the door guard schedule.

First shift gets to sleep around midnight. Second shift has to get woken up at midnight and only gets to go back to sleep around four am. Third shift just wakes up early.

GUESS WHAT I ALWAYS GOT! And on one day, with my sleeping bag over my head, I awoke to the following-

“Do you think we should wake her?”

“…everyone’s already dressed. ”

“Do you think we’ll get in trouble?”

“If she gets kicked out, it WILL fall to you.”

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Week 5-

The tests. Also the return of one mean girl who’s appendix ruptured during hell week. She had spent two days in the hospital. She returned with tales of girls who claimed to be in unbearable pain all in an effort to secure a ticket home. If one girl said her knee hurt, suddenly every girl in the ward had pain in their knee.  Her stories got a laugh. Our squadron was still mean girls vs nerd girls but at least her team acknowledged that although we were ‘losers’ at least weren’t cowards.

Fitness test- I pass the run, I pass the push ups. Both of which I practiced every night before bed in lieu of writing letters. Then came the sit ups. 50 in 60 seconds. This caused five people to not graduate on time- but not me. 50 in 60 seconds exactly! My sit up partner and I cried genuine tears- we were going to graduate!

I dominated the written tests.  95%, 97%- Putting me in the top 3 for both. Suck it, mean girls!

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Week 6 (dating myself since after I graduated  AF BT is now 8 weeks) was graduation. We got to go to the arcade, use the internet, but most importantly we got visitors.

My dad was my only visitor. What’s messed up is you have to send out graduation invites week 2. So the idea hangs over your head. ‘I cannot fail because the people who believe in me paid a lot of money to see my graduate.’ Which was why I only sent out one- to my parents.

The last day of basic we were paired off to watch over the next gen. Me and one of my best friends,  Puerto Rican native who got a perfect on the rifle test, watched over a week 0 team.

Around midnight as we struggled to fend off sleep she said to me “We did it, no one thought we could but we did!”

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So yeah, my hero team-

-The Purto Rican beauty who spoke little English- she got an early promotion.

-The nerd girl who was a wife and mother, using her instinct to help us losers achieve success. (She was a co-winner of the squadron grand prize medal.)

-My best friend who resembled the pro-wrestler Lita, she was the one who stood up for me during hell week. She’s currently working as a firefighter.

I graduated. I headed to Mississippi.

That began a whole new series of regret. But I never gave up. I got married and stationed in Germany where I got to see parts of the world I never thought I would experience.
In the end, I left the Air Force because they kicked me out for Thyroid cancer. And even then I appealed the decision to the fullest extent, resulting in a nice disability payout.

Never give up, it is better to be fired than to quit. But even if you are forced to leave you can walk away knowing you gave it 100%.

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