From The Back of a Cattle Truck to The Person I Am Today It was the start of another blazing hot summer in Oklahoma. When you think of a hot day, you think of sweat dripping down your forehead and the sun beating down on your face. This was a new level of hot. The kind of where you can see steam coming up off the asphalt. If this hot was any indication of hell, I should probably go to church. Standing in the back of a dark, musky, cramped cattle truck in the heat of the day with thirty other young adults contemplating why we are here and what the hell was about to happen to us.
Not even having enough room to move my arm to whip the bead of salty sweat hanging off the tip of my nose, I stand awkwaedly between to stranges wondering if this rife is ever gonna end. Before I could even finsh that thought, the driver slams on the breaks, and I go flying forward landing on the persons’ duffel bag in front of me. I was in the middle of a dog pile that looked like winning the super bowl depended on that tackle. Succrying to find my footing and regain a spot standing upright, I was pulled off the truck backwards by the handle of my duffle bag.
Dazed and confused, I was slung in the direction of a concrete slab, that over the next nine weeks would become one of my best friends. Its official, my first day of basic training has begun, and all that was running though my head was how I hated my reciter for convincing me that I could do this, I mean could I actually do this? After being drug from the truck, my eyes adjusting to the sun, and my heart rate dropping I stand at attention on the concrete slab I was tossed on. In a loud informational brief to my whole training class I was informed that the area was referred to as the CTA (covered troop area).
Drill Sergeant Willaims was so close to me I could tell he used tide detegant on his uniform. I was being screamed at to pick up my duffel bag that probably only weighed 50 pounds, but felt like it weighed more like 500, and hold it above my head until told to place it back down. To my surprise there was no instruction to put it down. I held that bag above my head for what seemed like a lifetime, but in reality was not even a minute. My arms are limp, they feel like jelly, if they told me to pick that back up above my head again I just might die.
I quickly learned what the punishment was for not following an order. Push ups, as if my arms weren’t weak already now I have to push 158 pounds of myself up and down as I stared at my new best friend. I found myself in this position a lot. It wasn’t that I was a trouble maker, or that I didn’t follow direction, it was that the Army thinks that doing push ups builds character. Corrective actions build your character, your battle buddies character, and the character of all the people in your platoon.
I was no longer myself, I became one of 54 that made up first platoon, and that meant that I would suffer and strive in the troubles or the glories of my fellow platoon mates. As the 4 a. m. wake ups come and go, and the days become more easy, almost enjoyable. I start to realize that I’m spending more time on the C. T. A standing up right than on my hands. My drill sergeants yelled less, and become somewhat more like humans and slightly less like the monsters in my dreams. First platoon phased up from phase one to phase two.
Phasing up was a big deal, our platoon got to change the streamer color on the platoon flag. Color change on the flag meant that we were no longer the new guys, and that my platoon and I have made it half way though this crazy journey we volunteered for. Push ups are not as hard as they used to be, that 50-pound duffel bag feels like a gallon of milk in my hands. I am physically stronger. I’m bonding with the people that I have become one with. I’m not just living day to day waking up and going to sleep.
I’m learning, growing, and being trained to be a United States Solider. I originally enlisted into the military because as a senior in high school, I wasn’t ready for college, and I didn’t have a job skill that would provide me with a livable income. I wasn’t answering a call to serve my country, I didn’t have an underlying agenda to go kill the enemy, I didn’t want to go to war, all I wanted was a way out of my parent’s house and a little extra money in my pocket. Little did I know that this would become the smallest rewards I received from my service.
I set out on my military journey to learn what real life was about. Somewhere along the way I stopped looking for what it was, and I started living it. I learned that you can do almost anything physically that you put your mind to, it honestly is mind of matter. I formed relationships with total strangers at the most trying points of our lives. I transformed who I was, and grew to become a much more stable version of myself in nine short weeks. From the back of that cattle truck to today, I did what I never thought was possible, and continue to do so.