Saturday, June 14, 2008


Just finished my first week at beautiful Fort Benning. Airborne school isn't easy, but it isn't hard either. For me the toughest part is being up at 3:45 and standing around all day in the heat. Falling in the gravel pit and the other trainers are nothing but fun. PT is challenging, but doable - we get a little break because they can't run us more than 4 miles during the summer months. The only thing that sucks are the fire ants in the grass - the "black hats" don't do it on purpose, but there's only so many places you can have a few hundred guys do pushups at a time. Speaking of the "black hats", our instructors, they aren't bad at all - much more lenient than I expected. Every time I hear the recent Army boot camp grads and cadets (college students) complain about them I can shake my head - they should try Marine gunny drill instructors. There's no comparison. I get the feeling the Marine I march behind would prefer that madness. The 6'4" recon officer is built like Robo-cop and all Hoo-Rah. He seems to think this is an easy joke of a course - just a prereq for HALO and HAHO. It's pretty funny to see the kids talk about him - they're scared of the guy. He's a scary dude.

So what do we do? Run a lot. Wait. Receive instruction. Wait. Practice drills. Wait. March a lot. Wait. PT. Wait. Yell "Airborne" a lot. Wait. "Standing by to stand by". I'd say we get a good 3-4 hours of instruction/training during our 13 hour days. I'm having a good time, though.

The actual training is great. PLF - parachute landing fall, how we're going to hit the ground. How you put on your equipment, mass exits from a high speed aircraft, body positioning, what you check for, what to do when you land - it's all good stuff. On the left is a 34' tower trainer to practice exit techniques. Good fun, I tell you! On the right is a 250' tower that I hope to get to try.

I can't fault the instruction - our trainers are great. It's just that getting 500 people ready takes time. I guess I shouldn't be amazed that most of the same small group of guys who had to be pushed out of the tower or couldn't hold a body position were the same ones that couldn't do PLFs to save their lives. We get good instruction and repetition. It really only takes a little bit of coordination and athleticism. Surprisingly, by the end of the day Friday even the gimpies had figured it out - right on schedule. I guess the instructors will morph these guys into airborne jumpers. Two weeks to go. I can't wait!

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