21 days in

I can remember vividly the sound of explosions, the sand and debris flying all around… it was day 21 of ABGD training at ft Dix New Jersey. We were at what was loosely called “the beach”, but there was no water or beautiful sunsets. We were learning to “low crawl” (a battlefield technique to keep yourself low so you don’t wake up dead) among other skills, and the night before our cadre had warned us that if we do not hydrate we will not make it through the arduous day to come. So as we awakened sometime in the morning or night who knew, we gathered in our “fire teams” (teams of 4 men) and began training. I had definitely underestimated the difficulty of the beach. At some point in the early afternoon temperatures had risen tremendously (it was well over 100 degrees with heat index) I began to experience leg cramps to the point I was dragging my left leg because of  dehydration, but quitting was not an option. If you couldn’t complete a task during ABGD you were sent back to week 1 to begin again or worse washed out completely. I began to have clouded vision and hyperventilating yet I continued with the motivation of two members from my fire team (Joseph Rind and Wayne Fox) that I actually was in charge of….I could feel myself near falling into complete heat exhaustion, but was powerless to do anything about it. I know some are thinking to yourself, I know you had water on your LBE, (load baring equipment) but I had gone through all my canteens and resources. As I came to the end of one part of the course headed to the next, I saw black and began to fall. The next thing I remember is the feeling of drowning as water being forced down my throat and Fox’s squeaky voice saying, “you will not wash out and leave us here today, drink Jonesey”… they had caught me as I fell (I had become very slow on the course but they wouldn’t leave me) they dragged me into the edge of the woods unseen by our cadre and FORCIBLY  hydrated me (all military members understand this term) they gave me all of their water at the risk of becoming dehydrated themselves. They helped me up and “motivated” me and we all finished day 21, together. I was completely at fault, because I had not prepared for the day and I messed up. My mistake could have not only cost me but my guys as well. They had choices that day: 1. let me fall 2. tell the instructor I wasn’t prepared, 3. pick me up without anyone knowing, and helping me back to my feet. Thankfully, I had friends… no brothers who despite my failure picked me up, tended to me (if they had been caught we would all be washed out) and it was never held against me. In fact, the conversation that night was, “I’m glad we were there Jonesey”… they didn’t even judge me, and didn’t inform anyone else of my failure that day; they just helped me make it through day 21. Someone from another fire team said, “dont think I didn’t see what happened” Fox immediately got in his face and let him know it ends here, not to be mentioned again.  You know in life, there are plenty of opportunities to let someone fall. There are plenty of opportunities to tell other people about someone else’s failure, but we need to realize it could be us next. If you see someone make a mistake get them recovered and show them mercy….and if need be defend them, even if they were the one to mess up. People deal with enough than to have a friend abandon them when they need them the most. 21 days in, the only easy day was yesterday! You can make it, just don’t quit!!

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