The afternoon heat taunted me as I trudged home from my walk. “Whose idea was it to go for a walk in the middle of the day?” I asked my daughter.
Our sweat inducing trek reminded me of the days I spent in Navy Boot Camp marching in the heat of Orlando, Florida. That memory led to another– marching in the heat with my rifle. That rifle. It wasn’t particularly heavy – that is, unless you had to exercise with it. Hold the rifle above your head. Twist it left. Twist it right. Run in place, knees to your chest, while holding the rifle above your head. Arms straight. Don’t you dare let your arms bend, or everyone will run an additional five minutes because of you. I get it though. The Navy needed us to be in shape.
But that wasn’t the only time we exercised. There was also IT- or Intensive Training. A recruit had to endure this intense exercise session as discipline. Yep. Been there. Done that. My IT training was because I had failed an inspection. Unfortunately I don’t remember which one. It could be my gig line was off (The gig line was that line created when the seam of your shirt, the edge of your belt buckle and the seam of the zipper on your pants all lined up in a perfectly straight line.)
If your gig line was askew during a Personnel Inspection, you failed. If the underwear in your drawer was not folded in the proper manner, you failed. If the shirt in your drawer was not folded so that it measured exactly nine and three quarter inches with a ruler, you failed. If the tucked corners of the sheets on your bunk did not create a perfect forty-five degree angle, guess what? You failed.
I don’t remember what my offense was, but I certainly remember IT. And let me tell you, it was intense. Lay on your stomach. Arms out in front of you. Lift your arms off the floor. Lift your legs off the floor. Stay like that until told to do otherwise. Push up position. Up. And down. Up. And down. Up…. there was nothing stopping the trainer from going outside to have a cigarette before coming back to say that lovely word: DOWN (and you better hope you were still in the up position when he returned.)
There were many aspects of Navy Boot camp that were enjoyable – fun even. But when fun time was over, it was over.
Would I do it again? Hell yeah. At the beginning of Week One we were pee-on recruits. By the end of Week Eight, we were shit-hot SAILORS.