This Day in History – Feb. 21, 1989 – I Leave for Boot Camp

Navy Boot Camp I can’t believe it’s been 25 years!! After graduating high school in 1988, I went to community college for a semester. What a disaster! I had no idea what I wanted to do in life, and I had little discipline. With nothing to lose, I decided to join the Navy. I officially signed the paperwork on February 7, and had 2 weeks before I was going to leave for boot camp. This gave me 2 weeks to say goodbye to family and friends, and one big going away party. That party is a whole story itself. It involved a huge Truth or Dare game. It was basically just a Dare game which may or may not have involved several possible illegal activities. But, we won’t go there today.

The party was totally over on February 21, 1989 at around 4:00 AM when the recruiter came and picked me up to bring me to Boston. As we were driving away from the house, Paul Young’s “Everytime You Go Away” came on the local top-40 radio station in the car. How cruel!

We got to the main recruiting center in Boston, filled out some final paperwork, and one more physical exam. Then several of us, from different branches of the service, were bussed over to Logan Airport.

I was going to boot camp at Great Lakes in Illinois, so I flew into O’Hare airport in Chicago, and had to wait there most of the day. So I hung out in the USO lounge most of the day. I had to wait for everybody else to get in so we could all get bussed to boot camp all at once.
Oh, just in case you breezed past the beginning of this paragraph, take a look-see at where I went to boot camp, and remember what the date is. It was not exactly balmy there! Just the opposite. Hoth had nothing on this place! (Holla, Empire Strikes Back fans!)
We arrived at the recruit training center very late that night. We then had fill out yet more paperwork, and we had to put our personal belongings in a storage bag, which we would get back when boot camp was over. Anybody who served in the military knows the “Hurry up and wait” routine, with the stress being on Wait. After waiting a long time to do different processes, it was about 5:00 AM by the time we were done.

Next we were marched over to a room with many bunk beds. Were they actually going to let us sleep?!? Wow. Uh, that would be a big fat NO! There were other recruits already sleeping in those beds. Two Company Commanders/Drill Sergeants then commenced to scream and throw some big aluminum garbage cans around the room, waking everybody up. This made me glad that I didn’t get to go to sleep.

Everything was a blur after that. We were broken up into different “companies”, and met our Company Commanders. At some point we got measured for clothes, were given our seabags, and settled in to our barracks. So that was my day 25 years ago.

Boot camp was 8 weeks. After that I went from Chicago to San Diego for my schooling. By April, it was beginning to thaw, but everything was still brown at Great Lakes. When I got off the plane in San Diego, the first thing I saw was palm trees, and nice perfect weather.

My time in the Navy was quite eventful. I survived a major earthquake, and served in the Gulf War (Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm).

I know I don’t tell too many stories about my life too often on this blog. But, on this date, I figured I’d share a little. Thanks for reading.

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