It was a warm summer evening as I packed for Navy Boot Camp. I carefully went down the list of things I could take and ensured I didn’t have anything else. A little nervous I went to talk to my parents about my move to becoming my own man. I looked at their faces and could tell that although they were proud they were a little nervous about their only son leaving home for the first time.
My mom tried to smile but she was proud yet nervous because I had always been her little guy so she was having a hard time letting go. After a short conversation with my parents I decided to try and rest for the long journey ahead.
Its now 5 o’clock in the morning and I’m up to shower and get ready for the trip, I didn’t sleep very much because I was so nervous. I showed and got ready for the trip to the Military Entrance Processing Stations (MEPS) for my final swearing in. My first trip included my initial processing and medical screening and now it was time to put all that into action.
As my parent drove me to the station the car was very quiet. As we pulled up my parents got out and hugged me and wish me well. I walked in and looked back at them and it was like the cord was being cut between us, now it was time for me to make them proud and show them what I’d learned from them.
The officer swore us in and we all boarded the bus starring out the window like lost kids. Hours later we arrived at Boot Camp in Great Lakes, Michigan. As we pulled up Company Commanders ran out yelling and screaming at us to put all our stuff in one hand and line up on the footprints. My heart was beating super fast and I was like what have I done. We marched into this room where they asked us to take out all our stuff, they went through it and told us what we could keep and what had to be sent home.
After feeding us, they took everyone to the barber shop and shaved all our heads. They then issued us our initial uniforms and began indoctrination. After marching back to our dorms, we were told how the bed should be made, stenciled all our gear, showered and went to bed. The first night I can
honestly say I missed my folks and at one point wanted to cry but I pushed on. I knew I had to do this for me and them, I had to show myself first and them second that I had what it took to make it.
Day two and forward we woke up at 4 am with yelling and screaming that we had 15 minutes to shower, shave and get in line for physical training and breakfast. Everything was 15 to 20 minutes including eating; you learn to eat real quickly. Training was tough but as the weeks went on it got easier. Then around week 4 we had to swim, I was never a strong swimmer so I was nervous but I made it through. Around week five it seemed they got a little easier and then explained that the toughness was to help us rely on each other and build the necessary teamwork within us all.
As time went on we had learned the entire Chain of Command, proper Navy rules and how to properly wear all the uniforms and the seasonal changes for whites and blues. As the 8th week came we got ready for graduation. Everyone was ready to show their parents how much they had grown up in the last two months. Part of growing up was proper grooming, making our beds and being responsible and accountable for each other.
Some of the guys in my company sat around the night before talking about some of the hard times in boot camp. I talked about the hard part for me was the fire fighting training and taking off that gas mask, my eyes burned so bad and I coughed like I was going to die. We laughed so hard about that and having to jump off that diving board that seems like it was 100 stories tall.
So now its graduation day and I’m so excited to see my parents and so they can see how I’ve turned from their little boy to this young man. We march out on the field and the guide yells “eyes right” and I look over and see my parents. My mom was crying as usual and my dad had the biggest smile on his face, it was a time I will always remember. Their little guy was finally a man.