Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Chapter 5: Advanced Individual Training (AIT) - Part 1

I think it's time for another one of my army stories. Well, that and I ain't got nothing else.


Basic training at Fort Jackson was very difficult, so we were all extremely happy to get it over with. Now it was time for all of the trainees that graduated basic training, to go our new assignment, Advanced Individual Training (AIT). AIT is where we learn the job we would do for the next two years. I was selected to be one of the sacrificial lambs and train as a grunt, (i.e., infantryman), so I didn’t leave Fort Jackson. I was just sent to another part of the base.

Approximately 22% of the trainees that completed Basic Combat Training remained at Fort Jackson for additional training, 6% for nine weeks of Vietnam-oriented Advanced Individual Infantry Training conducted by the 3d Training Brigade, and 16% for Combat Support Training conducted by the 4th Training Brigade. The remaining 78% of the trainees completing Basic Combat Training proceeded to advanced training at schools or with units located else where throughout the continental United States.

I was one of the lucky 6% assigned to the 3d Training Brigade (Company D, 11th Battalion, 3d Training Brigade) for Vietnam-oriented training. I didn't know it at the time, but it was now chiseled in stone that that I was destined for Vietnam to serve as an infantryman. Here is a list of some of the cool things I was introduced to in AIT.

The 3d Training Brigade conducted Vietnam-oriented Advanced Individual Training instruction in light and heavy infantry weapons, to include the following: (1) Radio Communications Training (11B-10 Hours; 11C&H-l2 Hours); (2) Land Navigation (18 Hours); (3) Survival, Escape, and Evasion (9 Hours); (4) Squad Tactical Training (56 Hours); (5) M16 Rifle (11B-28 Hours; 11C&H 4 Hours); (6) M79 Grenade Launcher and XM148 System, which is a combination of the M79 and Ml6 Rifle (4 Hours); (7) M60 Machine Gun (40 Hours); (8) M72 and 3.5-inch Rocket Launcher (6 Hours); (9) 81 MM Mortar (74 Hours); (10) 4.2 Inch Mortar (26 Hours); (11) 90MM Recoilless Rifle (16 Hours); and (12) 106MM Recoilless Rifle (48 Hours).


Since my AIT was on the same base, the bus ride from the basic training company area to our new home at AIT, was a short one. During the trip we were quite rowdy. It felt so good to be finished with basic and finished with all the crap we endured and being treated like shit. So good, that we just had to let it out. A couple times we drove past men still in basic training marching or running and razzed them as we passed.

Most of us didn't really think about what was in store for us next until we approached our new home. The first thing I noticed were the new barracks we would be staying in. These barracks were made from red bricks and had only been in use for a couple of years. Inside and out, they looked like hotels compared from the drafty, old wooden "temporary" WWII era barracks we've stayed in since induction day.

Fort Jackson took a big step in the long temporary-to-permanent building process in June 1966. At that time the 3d Training Brigade became the first unit to occupy the new brick permanent buildings on Post. These units consisted of one chapel, one Brigade Headquarters, two Battalion Headquarters, two Consolidated Messes, one gymnasium, eight barracks, two orderly/supply room complexes, one dispensary, one Post Exchange, and a motor pool. This complex, housed in the first permanent brick buildings erected on the 49- year old Post, marked the beginning of the Post’s transition from wood buildings to brick.

Our trucks were met by our new drill instructors barking out orders to hurry up and fall in. Unlike the first day when we arrived at basic training, this time we knew exactly what to do and were standing at attention in formation before you knew it. Also unlike that first day in basic, we were given orders to 'stand at ease' as soon as we were all set.

I our drill instructors, DIs, introduced themselves to us and gave us a brief lecture about where we were and what was in store for us. Then we were sent into the barracks in groups and assigned to our rooms. Yes, room! No more long barracks of bunk beds, we had rooms. Each room had four sets of bunk beds and wall lockers for each of us. I don't remember if we had foot lockers or not. Pretty soon we were marched over to the supply room and issued bedding and than marched back to the barracks to make our bunks and put away our uniforms and personal belongings.

It wasn't long before it was chow time (e.g., supper). The DIs walked up and down the halls ordering us to fall out and stand in formation. The mess hall was just as nice as the barracks; new, large and clean. I'm sure it wasn't, but the food even tasted better.

KP here was also better than in basic. It still started, I think, at 4:30 or 5:00 am, but the cooks all treated you better. Most jobs on KP were handed out on a first come, first serve basis. Meaning the first guy in line outside the mess hall in the morning got to pick his job first and the last guy in line got what ever was left. But the mess sergeant had final say in what you did. If you worked hard and did a good job, he'd usually make sure you'd get one of the better jobs. If you were a screw up, no matter what position you were in line, you were guaranteed a crappy job.

Everyone helped take turns serving the food, which was good, because that meant you got to eat before everyone else. The best job was being assigned to the store room. Your job was to keep the store room neat and clean and help unload the supply truck when it came in and then put away the supplies. Other than that, you just sat around on boxes in the store room between meal periods until someone came in a wanted something. The worst jobs were washing dishes and the pots and pans. You also helped the cooks and fetched things for them when they needed something. Another job I didn't like was cleaning up the dinning area after meals. You weren't allowed to even begin cleaning until the mess hall was empty and that meant you were usually the last to get off duty.


I have written so much more, but I'm saving it for that imaginary book I'm writing. Who wants a copy? LOL


Monogram Queen said...

I do! I do! Because I always enjoy hearing your army stories. Always.

Lil Bit said...

*raising hand*
I want a copy! I ♥ Army stories!

My father passed away when I was too young to share any of his Army day stories with me.. and my father-in-law is either too shy or too introspective to share any of his Marine stories with me...

I gotta tell ya, that whole list of stuff you were introduced to in AIT just sounds hot, hot, HOT! lol