Home > ASBC, Training > They Call Me…….Sunblock

They Call Me…….Sunblock

fIt’s been a little more than a week since my last entry, but today has been my first day of computer access since I was “deployed” to Blue Thunder on Monday. I apologize in advance it took me so long to finally get an entry up, but out at Blue Thunder most of us didn’t have computers, let alone internet access.

Well, to start off with, I had my “mach deployment” phase of Air Space Basic Course from Monday to Friday. I’m going to be pretty general  about all of it because it’s a training environment in which I shouldn’t tell the people coming after me every little detail. There are several things they throw at you at the last moment to see how you and your flight will react, and some more “stressful” situations than normal that you will just have to wait and see for when you get here. It’s just the nature of the beast.

They throw the mach deployment at us first thing for one main reason, to force you and your flight to bond by hitting the ground running. You just show up on “TD-1,”or in our cases the first day  of class, and by the afternoon you are in  full battle rattle marching off to your deployment site. The last class that graduated right when I first got here, did their “Blue Thunder” during week five of the course, while we are doing it at week 1. (Blue Thunder is just the name of the tent city they have out here at Maxwell.) Blue Thunder is also the site of the middle third of my 28 day Field Training back two years ago, which makes it a little weird being out there. Only this time I’m not getting yelled at and I have a cell phone! (My cell phone seriously kept me sane because they give you several hours to relax and recoup your energy…which I was so thankful for.) What we learn at Blue Thunder,we will need to apply to “Vigilant Warrior” on Week Six where we apply everything we’ve learned here at ASBC in a scenario over three days.

But now onto what happened  at Blue Thunder. (When I say full battle rattle I mean Kevlar Helmet, Kevlar Vest, and M-4 Carbine (with the firing mechanism removed.)) We were in ABU/BDU’s the entire time (Airman’s Battle Uniform, Battle Dress Uniform) as well as our “Battle Rattle” if we were outside of our tents, and it was still in “duty day hours” (8:00AM-5/6pm.) This combination of long sleeve ABU’s and Full Battle Rattle made for a very VERY hot five days with 92 degrees and a ridiculous humidity. During field training we were just running around in summer weight Battle Dress Uniforms  and no battle rattle. (The ABU is a middle weight for use in all climates unlike the BDU which had a summer (light) weight and a winter (heavy) weight.)

We started off with several welcome briefings, met our flight mates, our flight commander (a Captain who will be our mentor, coach, supervisor, and teacher for the next six weeks.) Luckily for me everyone in my flight is really cool, chill, and likes to have fun. There really hasn’t been a “storming” stage at all (When dealing with groups there are several stages of group development: forming, storming, norming, and performing.) Maybe we just bypassed the storming stage  or we just haven’t had it  happen yet, time will tell. Our flight commander is all really really awesome, it’s like the complete opposite person I had for field training (which is definitely a GREAT/GOOD thing.) This guy is extremely laid back, loves to have fun, and jokes around with us a lot. Having a really  chill flight and a really cool flight commander is definitely making this experience that much better. After all the welcome briefings we went off to change, and get our duffel bag for the next five days. We “marched” about 2 or 3 miles with just the duffel…and then got issued another duffel with a poncho, canteen/belt for it, and sleeping bag (Or two in my case…I somehow got lucky and got both the summer and winter weight sleeping bags while most  everyone else got winter weight.) We also received our battle rattle gear, and then started marching again for another mile and a half. It was by no means comfortable, so I definitely have respect for people getting deployed and having to carry more stuff than that. Once we got to Blue Thunder we had a M-4 familiarization class, and were done for the day (done by 1900 or 7pm on this day, started at 0645 that morning)

Tuesday Started off with the “FIST” (0645) which is exactly like the PT Test but it’s not graded and doesn’t really “count” for anything. You have to do the minimum push ups and sit ups as you would with a real PT test, but you instead had 15:30 to run the run in. They call it a “Safety” test to make sure you can do everything at ASBC they want you to be able to do. If you fail you retest two days later. If you fail again I think you are sent home…But if you are a commissioned officer…you SHOULD be able to pass it. They mainly allot the extra time to account for acclimatization, and some of us might be out of shape. The rest of the day consisted of breakfast, lunch, and dinner of course, but we had a three hour self aid buddy care (combat first aid basically) and then had about three hours of “hands on” self aid buddy care. The hands on stuff was pretty cool because you actually had to do it like you would likely be using it in a combat situation (minus the real gun fire.) Once this was finished we were done for the day which was at 1700 (5pm)

The title of my post today comes from this “self aid buddy care” scenario. Sunblock is now my nickname thus far in the flight because when we did the scenario I was a wounded person and had to be carried out of the battlefield. When my two flight mates attempted to pick me up the female LT was having trouble carrying me. Once we got back to the safe area she was joking that I was a lot heavier than they would think (I weigh 165 with regular clothing on so I might have weighed 190 with my combat gear on.) I responded with jokes about me being fat apparently, and over the next few days her and I consistently joked about it as well as a few other flight members. On weds I mentioned I forgot to put on sunblock and she said “sunblock? psh you ARE the sunblock fatty.” My flight commander heard me called that on Friday and was explained the story, so now I am sunblock.

Wednesday This day consisted of small unit tactics and land navigation. Small unit tactics are just the tactics you would use in small units on patrol, etc. And land navigation is exactly what you think it would be…using a compass to shoot asmithus from point A to point B and navigating there. The day started at 0645 and ended at 1715 (5:15) We also had a “wingman day” which is an Air Force wide thing to try to stem the amount of suicides and alcohol related incidents every year. Something that my Flight Commander pointed out really put it all into perspective for me though…On average about 90 people die in the Air Force die from the two things I just mentioned (which is certainly cause for it to be a concern of course,) but if you look at all 300,000 members of the Air Force that computes to be like .03% or something. He was saying that it made him feel pretty good to be in a job where it attempts to stop an incident that makes up .03% of the population…I agree with him, it definitely makes me even more proud to be in the Air Force, we take care of our own.

Thursday Started at 0800 (I got to sleep in!) This day was spent doing integrated base defense all day, which also included searching people, vehicles, and similar things. We got some hands on training with searching people and searching vehicles as well as building defensive fighting positions and planning out a forward operating base.  We were done by 4:30 or so.

Friday Started at 0815 but we had to have our cots packed up by 0700. This day consisted of chemical and biological training on how to protect ourselves with our “MOPP” gear including a gas mask. We also went and tested our masks in a chemical setting in which we were exposed to tear gas. After demonstrating our masks were fine we then had to take them off and feel the affects of tear gas. I tell you it really wasn’t that fun…Burning of the eyes, nose, mouth, and some pores (like if you had just shaved, which I had.) Also your nose, and eyes water like crazy trying to combat the burning. After this we got back, packed up the rest of our stuff, and then marched  back. We got lucky and made it the first mile or two to drop off our M-4’s and then had lightning within five miles, so we were bused back the rest of the day (my shoulders were quite thankful.)

Notes about Blue Thunder and Week 1

  • You can have a cell phone, a computer, or pretty much anything you want to take out there. The class before us (that graduated before us) told us that some of their flight commanders took out their computers and stuff for them so they didn’t have to carry them, but we weren’t offered that.) I didn’t take my computer because I didn’t want to have to march with it in my duffel.
  • IF you take some type of electronic device be sure to bring the charger…there are power outlets.
  • You do not have to eat breakfast (meaning you don’t have to be awake whenever it is breakfast time.) You just have to be at your first session by whatever time it says. Sometimes I slept through breakfast. Reveille always happens before breakfast so thus you do not have to be up before reveille. This isn’t field training, we all don’t have to be our their formed up. We’d all just be in our tents sleeping.
  • It’s HOT out here if you’re going to be here when I am….if it says “recommended” on the packing list, I’d definitely pack it.
  • Tactical elbow pads and shoulder pads aren’t needed by any means…I think I may have been on the ground once or twice. Don’t waste your money on them (though I haven’t seen what the week six deployment will be like yet.
  • You don’t have to have a camelbak…as several people just used canteens and got along fine (though you have the old school web belt to go along with the canteens…haha.)
  • You can text message pretty much whenever you have a break, or even make phone calls…
  • You are a 2d Lt now, and everyone out there will treat you like one…this isn’t field training any more.

If anyone has any other questions besides those (those are mainly the ones I asked friends that came before me, or other LTs asked when we were here) I’ll be more than willing to answer them. For those of you that have gone to field training…It’s going to be a much more chill version of your deployment training…and it’ll be more in depth. This stuff is taught by Air Force Sgts that are considered the best of many of these subjects. They know this stuff inside and out. Ask them and get as much information from them as possible, they are all very willing to help.

Overall it wasn’t a bad five days, but I definitely missed a bed and air conditioning (also know as the “Air Force Life” when talking to my friends from other branches….)

I even got the weekend off (including memorial day.) Here at ASBC you get every weekend off to go do what you want…as long as it’s within 300 miles for the most part (they do make exceptions most of the time.)  Thus on Friday I decided to go see my friends Mary Ann and Brannon over in Starkville. I’ll post about that hopefully tomorrow. I need to get to bed now as my day starts by 0730.

Categories: ASBC, Training Tags: , ,
  1. Nick W
    1 June 2010 at 10:32

    I enjoy reading your blog mike… Keep em coming and have fun… It’s a fascinating insight into the big crazy U.S of A!

  2. Becky Lathrop
    1 June 2010 at 16:10

    Thank you for the info. It helps to know what you are doing and experiencing. On the plus side you don’t have to tell everyone over and over the same thing. I love you and miss you and I’m glad things are going well.

  3. Martin Lathrop
    2 June 2010 at 22:44

    Michael, Glad you are doing well. Hang in there it will get better when you get to the real Air Force. Your posts bring back memories when I left home for the first time in the Army. (LOL) I too was very young and not knowing what to expect and missing home, but I learned very quickly to keep my mouth shut and do what I am told. Of course then we didn’t have computers or cell phones.

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