Pretty weird: wandering around at Gold Rush, I saw a booth emblazoned with “Georgia Department of Defense NOW RECRUITING!” Turns out not to be a militia, it’s actually a part of the state government. Whew.
Speaking of recruits…
Saturday, February 20, 2021
A Letter from Boot Camp
Rene gets to write home on occasion. At least we know he’s doing more or less OK.
Holá, y’all. I told Farf-Dad if he wants to put this on the blog, that’s fine.
Farf-Dad says about writing stories, sometimes, it’s best to begin at the beginning, so that’s what I’ll do. I signed the papers, the recruiter swore me in and gave me the residence permits for my family, we went to the courthouse and got Kim and Christina a marriage license, then ran to the church and got the wedding done. Next morning, the recruiter put me on the RoadTrain to Atlanta, and told me to show my papers to any soldier at the station and they’d tell me where to go next. So I got put on the bus to Fort McPherson, which is in Atlanta, and they swore me in (again) and put all of us Latino ex-fugitives in our own barracks. I didn’t really get to know any of the other guys, but some of them had lived with citizens like I did, and most were part of an underground that none of them wanted to talk about. They also gave us our uniforms and a duffel bag for our “civvies” (civilian clothes) and anything else we brought with us. I have a notebook to write in, a few pens, and that’s about it. Most of the other guys didn’t even bring that much.
They hauled us out of bed really early, like 4 a.m., and took us to the Amtrak station. They had a special car for recruits, and a guy gave us a run-down of what we’d be going through at boot camp. It didn’t sound like fun, and the reality is even worse, but that’s getting off-track (jejeje). He asked us in Spanish, how many of us didn’t speak English. There were eight or ten who didn’t. They asked us how many of us hadn’t gotten the bad flu in the last two years, and there were maybe twenty. Then some medics came in and gave all of us shots for stuff and took blood, they told us that they’d quarantine and care for all of us if anyone had the flu now. The guys who didn’t know English got taken out to get some lessons, enough to get them through their first day of camp anyway — one of the Army people said they’d be doing all the training during the day and get English lessons in the evening, so they would have it pretty hard. It turns out we all get English lessons, whether we need them or not.
It took most of three days to get to where we were going, somewhere out west in the desert. They said they wanted us to get used to the desert, because we’d be seeing a lot of it in the next two years. While we were on the train, they took us in groups to another car where they had exercise machines set up — weights and treadmills and so forth. They said they wanted to get an idea about how good of shape we were in so they knew what they had to work with. I’ve been doing farm work since I was little, so I expected to do pretty well. Most of us did, naturally — fugitives don’t get the cushy suburban life, not that the suburbs are a decent place to live anymore anyway.
So we got to Camp Baker (that’s what the sign said, I guess it’s because they’re baking us “raw” recruits into soldiers), and the drill sergeant started screaming at us before we even got off the bus. The usual boot camp greeting I’ve seen in movies. Push-ups, marching, bellowing Yes, SIR! back at him (no Español allowed in boot camp), drilling, handling our guns… trying not to nod off in English lessons, because I think I speak English better than some of the non-coms (and I hope they don’t read that!). One morning, on a rare break, I heard a couple of them complaining about a computer not working. I asked if I could look at it, they said permission granted, and I got it fixed.
Christina talked about the wallyworld being smelly; I can’t imagine it smells any worse than this barracks we sleep in. We each get like three minutes of shower time a day, they said so we get used to not wasting water in Saudi Arabia, but if you’re not done when the water cuts off you’re done anyway. Some of the guys are taking their showers only every other day so they have more time, but when you’ve been sweating outside all day that doesn’t help the rest of us. Farf’s daughter would just say “It’s a guy thing,” and laugh at us I guess. She liked to say things like that a lot, anyway.
We’re supposed to be done with Basic week after next, and then we’ll get our postings. I’ll be surprised if we’re not all assigned to the front lines, but we can always hope. They need people to teach English to the rest of the recruits, so maybe I’ll get lucky. Sgt. Gonzales says we’re the sorriest bunch of Mexicans he’s seen come off the train, but I guess he says that to all the guys, jejeje. They just called five minutes to lights out, so I need to finish this. I love you guys. No regrets here, I’m doing this so my family can be free and legal, and so Kim and Christina could really be married. Whatever happens, I’ll be OK. I’ll let you know when I get my posting.