Bottom Line Up Front: Fort Lee is a gem.
Bottom Line Up Front 2: Humid winters are the worst
On the night of Thanksgiving I certainly had no difficulty identifying things to be grateful for. I had seen my family for two days having not seem them for that last 10 weeks. I saw the newest Harry Potter movie, but Dobby dies (What the?). I was also leaving basic training to move on towards the next step of my training.
The following morning recruits had to wake up at 0400 to take a bus to our next duty station. I, and the other future Quartermasters, would take the bus from Kentucky to Virginia. The other Soldiers would be transported to the airport where they would travel by airline. I said goodbye to my comrades, then boarded the bus with my friends that would be training with me at Fort Lee.
Pulling away from Fort Knox was peachy. I looked back with pride knowing that I wouldn’t have to experience such atrocity again in my life.
The bus ride lasted roughly seven hours, with a 1 hour lunch break in between. We were again issued vouchers to purchase food on the economy, which would be an exciting purchase from a gas station. Works for me, I hadn’t had processed foods in 10 weeks. My digestive system was thrilled.
The drive was uneventful, as it lacked any worthwhile landmarks (I’m spoiled by the Rocky Mountains in Utah). There was a different vibe from the Soldiers on this trip versus the trip to Basic Training. We had a sense of zest from what we had completed. Rolling into Fort Lee’s gate was different this time around. I was technically a Soldier, as I looked down at my baby mosquito wings of a rank.
The bus pulled into our reception building, and we lined up in formation with all of our belongings. As I scanned the horizon, I noticed something I hadn’t seen in a very long time.
At the time, Ft. Knox was an all male training facility, as females were unable to hold a Combat MOS. This ruling has since changed in 2015 and all MOS’s are open to females. Hearing the different tones in formation was a welcomed change.
We received our linen, dressed our bunks, and went to bed. The following morning we formed up and marched to chow in one massive company. Afterwards, we processed into Ft. Lee with finance, medical, and listened to various briefs. We were in Reception for two days, but it felt like a week of waiting. I was accustomed the calamity that Basic Training was.
On our second night of Reception, troops were cordoned off into their respective MOS’s. Cooks would attend cook school, suppliers to supply school, fuelers to fuel school. I said goodbye to the friends that would attend different schools, and fell into the section that harbored fellow fuelers. I didn’t know any of these individuals, luckily I carry an aptitude of making new friends. We were formed outside in the back to wait for our bus to the barracks that would transport us to our AIT barracks. I had become proficient in standing around for a long period of time in complete silence, which came in handy in the bitter November cold.
Eventually the bus pulled up, and out came the cadre the would lead us throughout AIT. Last to come out was a towering first sergeant. 1SG Benevedos was a massive man, easily standing over 6’7″, with the width of a door frame. His intensity reminded me of the Drill Sergeants from Basic Training. He immediately smoked us for movement in formation. “Cool, I’m back in Basic Training” I thought to myself. We silently mounted the bus and traveled across Ft. Lee to the Barracks.