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Army 2: Drop and give me 20, cadet! Reflections on 5:45 a.m. training

March 17th, 2011 Posted in Arts and Life

Story & Photos by Natasha Bodily

Editor’s note: Natasha Bodily is trying out USU’s Army ROTC, to see if she has what it takes. See her first dispatch from the front.

“Nobody would notice if I missed,” I thought.

“And even if they did notice, they would easily forget….”

“Ugh, Do I really have to get out of bed?”

“I am just so bleeping tired.”

“I bet if I snooze my alarm one more time, my roommate will murder me.”

“Hey, then I won’t have to go to PT.”

• • •

My schizophrenic dialogue continued for a few minutes before I finally rolled out of bed at 5:40 a.m., leaving me 5 minutes to get ready and out the door. I threw on my Army workout attire and grabbed my backpack, skipping dental hygiene this one time. Though it was not terribly cold this morning, the icy roads and sidewalks slowed me down. I hurried to the Fieldhouse, attempting not to slip on an invisible slick patch.

When I arrived outside the doors, I realized something was going on.

“Every one who does not have their student ID, follow me this way!” a student commander yelled. I breathed a sigh of relief while I handed over my blue student ID card to the commanding officer. Three fellow students followed the strict commands and were reprimanded for forgetting their IDs.

“It is Fieldhouse policy to always have your student ID,” the officer yelled and commanded the three absentminded students to hold a plank position in the middle of the icy sidewalk. I promised myself in that moment to never forget my ID.

PT took on a different format as my group was instructed to perform certain PT tasks for a camera. After struggling to carry a frozen log inside, I snuck into another group to avoid being filmed. This was not my 15 minutes of fame plan.

In my new group, we did lunges, wall-sits, jumping jacks and more.

• • •

My body has never been so sore. Before I started this training, I thought I was in pretty good shape. I was wrong. I have a few words for you, Tony Horton: P90X has poorly prepared me for this program. I have, however been reassured by many other cadets that their first PT tests were equally difficult. A fellow female confessed she also couldn’t do a real push-up when she started Basic. “There were 18-year-old boys, straight out of high school who couldn’t do one,” she said. Another male cadet told me he initially failed all three areas of PT. My ego is slowly healing.

• • •

After burning up my quads, I finally heard a piece of good news. “Pancakes next door,” someone said. Karma is real. I enjoyed a syrup-soaked waffle corner and blueberry pancake while overhearing a couple students’ conversation. You would have eavesdropped, too, trust me.

“Are you suicidal?” the officer who earlier yelled at the card-forgetters asked.

“No I’m not,” Tami, one of the few ROTC females, replied.

“Would someone honestly answer that question, the way you asked it?” I inquired.

The officer explained approaching this particular question was a difficult one for him, but he still feels joking about it can make things easier. He recalled a moment from previous training when the commanding officer had told the troops if they were feeling suicidal to let him know. They would find neighboring porta-potties and hold a confessional.

Admittedly, I don’t know how else you would deal with this issue. But I hope that if a cadet were dealing with severe depression, they would feel comfortable approaching their superiors.

I can only hope my new involvement in the Army would not lead to such a despairing mental state (though I already have revealed my occasional schizophrenic conversations). I would like to find out more about how prevalent this concern is in the Army. It must be a well-known problem, if it is part of standard mentor-mentee questioning.

“He knows I am not,” Tami reassured me. She explained his joking way of asking was based on his awareness of her behavior. If someone were really concerned about behavior problems, they would approach the problem more seriously.

It makes sense.

Now I wish I had motivated myself to work out over spring break so PT doesn’t kill me.


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  1. One Response to “Army 2: Drop and give me 20, cadet! Reflections on 5:45 a.m. training”

  2. By Chris Dbais on Mar 18, 2011

    A very good read. I didn’t know they had to go through so much training

    Chris Dbais

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