|A Female's Perspective of Air Force Basic Training|
I was not that nervous on my way to BMT -- I was kind of excited because I thought I knew what to expect. I had read up on it, asked a zillion questions on this forum, and talked with countless people who had been through BMT. The Military Reception Center at the San Antonio Airport did not have any TIs there waiting for us, or any military personnel whatsoever. I got there early afternoon, and the next bus to Lackland was not coming until 1700, or so the boards posted in the reception area said. I was one of the first few people to sit in the pews, and made small talk as more and more people started arriving. The bus did not arrive until around 1800, and it was just a civilian driving a commercial bus (there are tons of those around Lackland transporting trainees around everywhere). We all were getting a little nervous as we came closer to Lackland. All of us were expecting TIs to suddenly swarm around us the second we arrived and start screaming in our faces about how stupid we were and how dumb we looked.
When we finally did arrive, an NCO stepped onto the bus and told us to grab our bags and get off, but he wasn't yelling or anything. There were a couple more outside who rushed us into a trainee processing building (building 5725 -- you will get to know it very well), but still no screaming. We all filed into a room and sat down at little desks. Another NCO proceeded to brief us, then we filled out a bunch of papers for in-processing. One of the things they told us to write down was 331 TRS -- that's when I found out which training squadron I was assigned to. I had forgotten what I heard about it though, so I did not know what to expect. There were some males from the 319 TRS there doing details (the 319th is where med holds and discharges go), and a couple of them were outside with us after we had completed the paperwork and fell out into formation. One of the males was telling us how tough it was in the 331 TRS and how much fun we'll have there (by the way, he was being discharged for an open court date). He was just one of several people who told us similar things. I was like, great, I get stuck in a squadron with a tough reputation. It was not exactly what I had been wanting.
We were then bused over to our squadron -- the lovely 331 TRS, located all by itself, as opposed to Hotel Row, where 4 TRS are located, and right next to the little BX with the Burger King (which was forbidden). I can't remember exactly who was there when we first arrived, but it was a couple of our TIs. We were herded (is that a word) upstairs (our dorm, of course, was on the 2nd floor) and were told to stand next to a wall locker. Each wall locker had a corresponding bed (locker 12 to bed 12) and so forth. We locked up our valuables in our security drawer. There were already several females who had arrived who were already sleeping. We took showers and got ready for bed, then the lights were out. Luckily, I had not arrived extremely late at night or early morning, so I got some sleep before the 0445 reveille. At 0445 the OJT dorm guards (trainees or airmen weeks ahead of us performing dorm guard and keeping us in line and telling us what to do during the night hours until we learned to do dorm guard) woke us up. But it was not that bad -- one of them just turned the lights on and said "get up." But not all mornings were like that. And not all OJTers were that nice. Some of them are from hell and scream at you like they're TIs, and some are kinder and will answer your questions and stuff. The good ones were tough on us as we got our stuff done at night, then after Taps would help us out and give us a heads up and answer our countless questions. I would look up to all the trainees and airmen ahead of me, because they seemed so much more confident. There was an air about them that I wish I had -- they would walk differently, march differently; they even seemed to look different. To me, they seemed so wise, so much more mature; they seemed like they knew everything. And it was that day, our first actual day, that the screaming and shock and terror started. Our TIs let the games begin.
Here's how BMT is divided:
I bought all the personal junk on the "to-bring" list from my recruiter. Toothpaste, toothbrush, bodywash, deodorant, etc. However, on our first BX run, they told us everything had to be the same, and one of our TIs in particular favored the small travel-sized shampoo and certain razors and stuff. So we had to buy that stuff all over again at the BX. Most of us started using our other stuff (stowed away in our security drawer in our "personal belongings" containers) after the first couple of weeks. It didn't really matter as long as your drawer was in order. Oh well. At least all that stuff I bought beforehand I can use at home now. You may choose to do it either way. They're always messing with you and different TIs will give you different instructions, so everything conflicts and gets frustrating. Your civilian luggage will be locked up in a closet in the dorm, so make sure you take everything out that you need. You won't be able to get into it again until right before graduation.
In the beginning, the TIs will try to rip your flight apart and ground it into the dirt. They will try to pit everybody against everybody so that it's impossible to be a team. That's when you have to unite and create the determination and resolve you are going to so desperately need for training. They are set on breaking you all down; it's up to you and your flight to build yourselves back up.
One of the TIs' favorite things to do is threaten. "You're recycled! You better be packing your bags tonight!" "Hell will freeze over before I see you graduate!" And they seem dead serious. They might go so far as to have a trainee pack his bags and head out before they so compassionately decide to keep him or her in the flight. But their threats created a lot of frightening moments during BMT.
AETC (Air Education and Training Command) Form 341 is referred to as simply a 341 (three forty-one) in basic. These little slips of paper have your name, rank, roster number, flight and TRS written on them. They record excellence on your part or discipline administered and for what reason. It is rare that a TI will take one from you for display of excellence. 99.9% of the time a TI will take one from you for doing something wrong - failing to salute an officer, executing an improper facing movement, incorrect reporting statement or loss of military bearing. Anything and everything they can take a 341 for. They are folded into fourths lengthwise, and 3 must be kept in your left cargo pant pocket at all times. If you are Reserve or Guard, a copy of your orders must be kept there also. And when you earn your Airman's Coin, that too will be placed into that pocket. Anyone can take a 341 from you, even some civilians are given authority to do so. They are returned to your TI usually by the end of the same day or sometime soonafter. But just remember, the only time a 341 counts is if your TI has you sign it. I had one pulled during the entire time, along with several other females. One of the Blue Ropes had us stocking coolers with Gatorade for the Warrior Challenge event. He gave us instructions on how to do it: "These Gatorade in those boxes are new, but the ones in the closet are the old ones, but you only want to use these over here, and one of this one and one of that box" and so on. We were all so confused that we didn't really know what to do. He left and we ended opening up 2 more boxes than we were supposed to. He ripped us for that and pulled a 341 from each of us. He asked who told everyone else to open more boxes, but no one did, we all just kind of did our own thing. He asked each of us to explain, and before we even got done with our reporting statement he'd be like, "No. Whatever. Next." So we didn't even get a chance. But oh well. None of us had to sign the 341s.
Your personal hygiene items are kept in your security drawer in a specific order and arrangement. Your security drawer also holds your valuables and anything else like letters, stationary, appointment slips, whatever. You have 2 keys to your drawer, and wear them around your neck just about every moment in BMT. Always have them tucked into your shirt; you'll get into trouble if you have your keys hanging out. You have the right to brush your teeth every morning and night, and to take a shower every night. At Warrior Week a lot of us showered once or none at all because it was so cold and there was seemingly no time for showers. There was, but the prospect of freezing made us hesitant. The showers were hot, but it's just difficult getting showers in at Warrior Week.
Above Article by ANSK876, a member of our Message Forum
Above Photos Official Air Force Photos