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I started this blog to keep in touch with my family and friends during my time attending Commissioned Officer Training (COT) and the Judge Advocate Staff Officer Course (JASOC) at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Alabama. Now I'm done with training and back in the "real" world, but I'll keep updating this blog with any interesting developments from my JAG career.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Day 5: E-C-H-O, Act-Like-You-Know!

Today was Friday, the last day of our first week.  It feels like I’ve been here for a month already, what the constant stream of instruction and work.  One instructor told us that COT is like drinking from a firehose, and I could not agree more.  It is intentionally that way.  We are judged not just on how we perform on tests and physical challenges, but on how we react to the stress of having much more to do than we have time in which to do it.
I took my turn as flight leader today.  The flight leader is responsible for getting the flight sized up correctly (taller people in the front and on the outside) and marching the flight everywhere on campus.  The flight leader also checks in for the flight at all academic classes by calling the room to attention when the instructor breaks the threshold of the door, TENCH-HUT!, saluting, and saying Sir, Echo Flight is accounted for and ready for instruction!  There are other procedures for closing the class and entering/exiting the chow hall, all of which are in the OTSMAN—but reading it and doing it are two very different things.
I was a little apprehensive about being flight leader.  The two prior flight leaders (on Wednesday and Thursday) both had served as enlisted personnel before, so they were fairly comfortable with all the reporting and drill instructions.  I, of course, did not have that experience.  But I felt pretty good about my command of the flight leader’s duties, and I knew how to march so I thought it would go pretty well.
It’s funny how things never go exactly as you plan.  The first class we had (at 0500) was an inspection class.  That means that I had to call the room to attention when the instructor (our flight commander) entered the room, report that the flight is accounted for and ready for inspection—rather than instruction—and then stand like a statue while he looked over my entire uniform to make sure that I’m wearing it right.  I had practiced opening an inspection class a number of times the night before, but when he got three inches from my face and was staring me down just as I began to report, the words just flew out of my head.  Thankfully, they came back after a second and we got through the inspection alright.  I later learned that one of our flight commander's nicknames is Snake Eyes, and I can only assume that it’s because of the way he can stare right through you and send a shiver down your spine.  (His other nickname is Duke - because he looks like the famous G.I. Joe leader.)
The rest of the day went well.  I did a pretty admirable job marching the flight around.  We had our first PT session, which wasn’t all that taxing.  After some stretches, pushups, and situps, we went on a light self-paced run.  Echo Flight decided to stick together on the run, staying in a group as we ran around the track.  As we did so, we decided to give the other flights a scare, yelling EXTERMINATORS!! together at the top of our lungs.  That’s the name we picked for ourselves.  The Echo Flight Exterminators.  None of the other groups had it together enough to express some team identity.  We Exterminators stick together!
On the march back to the dorm from the PT track, I had the flight chant a jody that I made up while we were running.  You’ve probably all heard a jody even if you didn’t know what it was.  It’s a chant that soldiers say while marching, and it sticks to the 1-2, 3-4 beat structure.  It is intended to boost the morale of those marching while also keeping them on beat.  Here’s a link to the Wikipedia page about jodies:
Here’s how my simple jody goes:
E – C – H – O, ACT – LIKE – YOU – KNOW!
E – C – H – O, THAT’S – HOW – WE – ROLL!
Nothing too clever, but we were the first flight to bust out a jody, and I’m proud of that.  It really showed our team spirit.  Once we got back to our Flight Room, Snake Eyes gave us some advice and encouragement.  He told us that we were doing really well and that we are far ahead of where flights usually are at this point in COT, and asked us to make sure we build on our momentum and not let ourselves slip up.  That means enforcing all of the rules even when no staff are around on the weekend, doing the prep needed to perform well on our exams, and encouraging each other at all times.  We were all pumped to get what we considered to be unequivocally positive feedback.  Despite all the lack of sleep and stress, I’m having a blast.

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