I was assigned to Uniform “U-Shape” company, which was one of two companies navigating fuelers through AIT. The other, Victor company, was on the other side of campus. AIT has a college feel, with strict limitations. Your task is simple on paper — complete MOS training. 92F fuel school was a 13 week course with the bulk of the days in a classroom setting. This was a stark shift from the intensity that basic training was as most of our days were performed sitting.
We were assigned our rooms, provided linen, and formed up outside. The newest troops were called “new boots”, for obvious reasons. We fell into our company of roughly 150 Soldiers. Some that were about complete with training, some in the middle, and the newest troops. Our 1SG must’ve had a bad day, because we were smoked and yelled at for some mishap that occurred prior to our arrival. It was as if he was trying to send a message to the new boots. We marched as an entire company from our barracks to the chow hall. The line to get into chow was massive, as a plethora of troops funneled into the building one-by-one. This was exciting given how much I love waiting outside in the frigid winter. The food wasn’t bad, however, as Ft. Lee trained cooks, and their food was much better than I was expecting. We also had time to enjoy food, instead of the 3 minutes I was accustomed to.
The following morning was a Saturday and Sunday, which are off days. Uniform company was on “lock down” for some egregious reason I was unaware of, so we were confined to our barracks. Our structured days consisted of morning accountability formation with urine test, PT, hygiene and room cleanliness, breakfast chow, more barracks cleanliness, lunch chow, then free time in the barracks. I spent my free time reading books, getting to know my battles, and calling my, then, partner.
Sunday looked similar, aside from sleeping in until 0700 instead of 0445. Troops were allowed to attend religious services.
Monday morning was the first day of class.
We woke for accountability, PT, and hygiene then formed up outside to wait for transportation to the school house. This would be the routine for the next 13 weeks. As we pulled up to the building, I know noticed a Staff Sergeant, who would be our primary instructor. Staff Sergeant Brown guided us through the schoolhouse pointing out various points of interest. The first day we introduced ourselves and went over expectations for the course. There were three sections of fuel school, and three tests that one must pass in order to complete AIT. Failure could lead to MOS reassignment.
I was given a workbook that contained all of the topics needed for my MOS. I never expected so much information around a seemingly simply occupation. The workbook, surprisingly, was simple to interpret and proved effective in preparing for exams. In addition to the workbook, the instruction given by SSG Brown was outstanding. His technical and personal knowledge of fueling ops were paramount.
A typical day in AIT consisted of PT, hygiene, chow, class until 1130, lunch chow, class / field work until 1600, then transport back to the Barracks.
Eventually the lockdown was lifted by our company First Sergeant, which allowed for the opportunity to visit the local PX. I recall walking with my new friend, PV2 (Private 2) Miller, to the PX where he was thrilled to have his first “smoke” in months (this wasn’t allowed in basic training). Its the simple things that get you through discord. I, a non-smoker, opted for some Reeses.
November slowly ticked its way over to December. I was eagerly looking forward to Holiday Block Leave, where I could fly back home to Utah. Block leaves are common in the Army. Roughly two weeks around Christmas time a mass exodus occurs where most troops leave their posts to visit family. The troops left behind are typically ones whom violated UCMJ and lose their leave, or volunteer to stay back. A few troops from our training company were punished for various violations and were required to stay back and clean all leave. Weed is bad, people.
The last few days of December consisted of our first exam, which most passed, a weekend FTX in the awful snow, and more lockdowns. Uniform Co. was punished frequently compared to Victor Company.
December 21st rolled around and we got the opportunity to finally go home. Myself and Miller rented a cab to the airport, and we were heading home. Words can’t express the feeling of coming home for the first time. It was an incredible experience.