• Basic Training and the, "Shark Attack".

    This is the second in a series by guest writer "Gigi". The series chronicles her experiences in the military from hopeful young women trying to chase her american dream to facing the regret of joining the military as she becomes increasingly disillusioned. This next installment  discusses basic training and the "shark attack."

    After a week at reception, I was ready to ship to Basic Combat Training. A million thoughts were racing through my mind. I just wanted to go home; I was not ready for the army life. I gave up my true identity of Gigi the valedictorian, the honor grad, the successful legal advisor at the consulate to become the female, the private, a shadow with an unflattering uniform that with no dignity and no identity, a “US soldier”. After countless hours of sitting on top of my luggage, we were finally told the drill sergeants were on their way to come pick us up. I felt how my heart as well as my soul and dreams melted under the unforgiving sun of Oklahoma.
    Around noon, the busses stopped right in front of the field. We were told to get up and grab our bags, bags that carried all my gear, but most of all the hopes, dreams and illusions that at some point in time, accompanied me to the USA when I left my beloved country. I jealously took my luggage and carried it on my back. I suddenly heard a new group of drill sergeants yelling at us. I panicked out again. I felt how a sea of conflicting emotions that range from angst to absolute misery touched even the most sensitive fiber of my heart and soul. My hands and legs were shacking as they rushed us to the bus and forced us to throw our bags in the back of the truck. As soon as we arrived to our “new home”, we were told once again to get out of their busses. They asked us to form up and gave us a jersey with a number. I was white 17 now; that was my new identity, my new name, white 17. I was not even a female anymore, I was white 17. However, the worst was about to come. We were asked to form up again based on the color and number of our jersey.
    All the drill sergeants came together and performed an infamous, almost satanic and perverse ritual where they “smoke” us, yelled at us, made fun of us, and humiliated us for hours, and hours, and hours. I could not see the light at the end of the tunnel. I was already physically and mentally exhausted. I felt completely drained and violated by these intruders with unrestricted access to my life, freedom, dreams and longings. The experience was simply ineffable. The terms used by the drills sergeants to describe us and name us were simply derogatory and inhuman.
    I felt like a prisoner to say the least. I found out later on that this event, this ignorantly denominated “rite of passage”, is known as the shark attack and has the solely purpose of scaring the new recruits to death and showing them who the macho alpha is while, at the same time, gives the drill sergeants a false sense of power and dominance. Needless to say, I went to bed and cried myself to sleep while I hugged Stuart tightly. At this point, I had lost all hope and wished I was death instead since I technically died deep inside on August 12, 2013.
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