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My OTS AdventureBackground information. There are two classes at OTS at any given time: an upper classand a lower class. Basically, the upper class has been at OTS 6 weeks longer than thelower class and they have the responsibility for running the wing. OTS is set up just likea real base. Its called the OT (Officer Trainee) Wing. We had our own Wing CC, Top 4,Squadron CCs, and Lower Flight CCs (Lower Flight CCs are OTs who act like TIs when theTIs are gone). All of these individuals are upper class OTs. Each class containssomewhere around 125 - 170 OTs.We also have TIs. Believe it or not; these TIs are our friends!We also have Field Training Officers (FTOs). These are the people who make us doanywhere from 100-300 push-ups and sit-ups each day for the first three weeks. Thisis what Lt Sutton is now.Day 1 - The arrivalThis day will remain as one of the best and worst decisions Ive ever made. I droppedmy rental car off at 0945 and met some seemingly friendly upper classmen. For somereason, these friendly people couldnt tell me anything about OTS. I should have turnedaround then and ran home. About two hours later I traveled with two other prior AFguys to OTS. Another nice gentlemen who gave me a briefing of which I can tell younothing about met me. I remember one thing about his briefing. He asked me if I wassure I wanted to do this. My heart started racing and I should have turned around andran. Again, stupidly I went on. It was then that the seemingly nice people turned intoSatan and his spawn. All of the sudden I had 10 upper class OTs (no, Im notexaggerating) surrounding me and screaming at me. Go here; do this. Thats all Iheard. All the while, people are screaming at me for everything from touching the BlueLine to not greeting everyone correctly. To try to put it in perspective is impossible butIll give it a whirl. Its like having 125 TIs from basic training yelling at you. Thisconstant yelling continued for the first 5.5 weeks of training.Day 1 - My first encounter with Lt Sutton and The Blue LineAs Im standing in the hallway ready to wet myself and waiting to enter the room wherethe Blue Line ceremony was being held, I see this tall lanky figure walk by. Because, Imnot aloud to look around, I cant tell who it is until he passes and I see the back of hisbaldhead. By this time, Im about ready to cry because the yelling is like nothing youveever experienced. Lt Sutton turns around, looks at me and gives me the thumbs up.That little gesture helped me get through the day of hell I was experiencing. Youll see
(if I finish this dissertation) Lt comes through at just the right times to keep me going.Anyway, its my turn at the Blue Line. I march forward, stand at attention, and toe theBlue Line. Meanwhile, these two upper class OTs come to within inches of my ears (Oneon each side), and Im thinking, "Oh, stink." These two gentlemen begin whispering inmy ears. About what, I cant tell you (I can tell you it wasnt sexual.) At the same timethis female begins screaming some crap about how much of an honor it is to cross theBlue Line and bla, bla, bla. Then, wait a minute, she just asked me to repeat what shesaid! Oh shit, big mistake. After the serious yelling, she begins her speech again. OK,this time Ill pay attention and get it right. I start spewing the words out, but theyre notcoming out right. These damned people whispering in my ears are screwing me up.Again, the yelling begins. Meanwhile, some other upper classmen makes the mistake ofasking me who I am. So I scream out "SSgt Timothy A. Frey, Sir!" Uh Oh. As the wordSSgt was coming out of my mouth, my brain was saying "You Idiot!" I think I wentunconscious during that yelling spree. From then on out, I became OT Frey. I didntmake that mistake again. Anyway, the female begins her speech 6 more times before Ifinally get it right.Thats pretty much all I remember about my first day at OTS.Weeks 1 through 3 - The Infamous TalonThe Talon; what a wonderful little handbook. I hope I never see it again. While standingat the Blue Line, the kind female who was interrogating me, I mean, inprocessing mehanded me this little book. The speech went something like this. "This is the Talon.The most revered book at OTS. You should feel privileged to receive this book. You willcarry it on you at all times. You will read it at every opportunity and know it. OT youwill now follow Mr. ________. Do not blow anyone off!" How do I know this speech?Youll see when I become Squadron CC.From that point until the end of the third week that book got me into more trouble thanalmost anything else. Anytime I was standing or sitting that book had to be about aninch from my eyes covering them so it didnt look like I was looking around, or, Godforbid, eyeballing someone (eyeballing is catching someones eye with yours -- bigmistake). The only time the book could be down was when I was drinking water frommy canteen. Man, did I get thirsty at OTS.Once again, my memory failed me. During the little speech, that friendly lady saidsomething about reading the Talon, which I did. She also said to know it. DOOOOO!Before I knew it (I think it was day 2) our upper class was calling on people to reciteinformation from the Talon. People around me were spewing out information that Ididnt even remember reading. Those idiots! Dont they know theyre going to make me
look bad? Mental note: Start reading and KNOWING the Talon. Thankfully, I didnt getcalled on before I could memorize something easy.I must have had amnesia while at OTS, because I forgot one other important little detailfrom her speech. She said something about carrying it on me at all times. Whoops.Our upper class liked to time-bust us as much as possible. (Time-busting is standingyou outside your door at attention and yelling at you when you could be doing yourrequired work. Thus, making you stay up past the 11:00 lights-out. Basically, doinganything to keep you away from your productive work.) One day I thought I was finallymaking some progress towards my work. All of the sudden, our upper class camestorming in yelling and screaming for us to get into the hallway. I dropped everything,made sure my security locker was locked and my lights were out, and jumped into thehallway at attention. You didnt want to be the last one in the hallway. Son-of-a-stink, Ileft my Talon in my room. Guess what? They found it for me. The kind people stoodme at attention and kindly told me what a mistake I made. They emphasized if I was inthe Missile career field and this was a top secret document bla, bla, bla, people dyingbla, bla, bla, my fault bla, bla, bla. I think my ears bled after that one. Needless to say,I made another mental note and no longer left my Talon behind.FTO Welcome DayFTO welcome day is the day when the fun really began at OTS. Before FTO welcome dayI was only being yelled at by the upper class. They couldnt really punish us physically.Things change after FTO welcome day. No, the upper class couldnt start smacking usaround. In fact, they never got to do anything but yell at us. The FTOs, on the otherhand, were a different breed. Before the welcome day, we heard about them, but theywere just an evil myth. An evil myth that portrayed them as larger and more evil thanSatan himself. They were close with their description.Let me try to set up the atmosphere for you. FTO welcome day is the day we all meetour FTO. Our FTO is the officer in charge of our flight. The FTOs were located in one ofthe squadron dorms on the entire first floor. The offices werent numbered and thenames were hard to see, because we werent supposed to look around. Anytime youwere walking in a hall, you had to brace the wall (stand at attention with your backagainst the wall) and greet any individuals who passed with the proper greeting. Theproper greeting was "Good morning/afternoon/evening, Sir/Maam." It was a very tenseday that no-one wanted to mess up.On FTO welcome day, we were all gathered into our flight rooms. (These were rooms wespent our days going to school. They were basically classrooms.) We were all given aspecific time to be outside our FTOs office door. There was only one problem: Theydidnt tell any of us (by design) where that office was located. We knew the building, but
we didnt know whether we needed to turn left or right once we entered the building.God forbid if we were to get lost in the building.It was my time to go along with two other flightmates. We marched to the building andwent in. The yelling we heard was intense, because not only were we meeting our FTO,but 20 other people were also meeting their FTO. I marched into the hall andimmediately braced the wall where an officer met me. "GOOD AFTERNOON, SIR!", Ibellowed out, because you had to sound motivated. Hey, its Lt Sutton. "Did you shavetoday, OT?", he barked. "YES, SIR!", I barked back. "Shave closer", he said. I guess thatwas his way of saying hi and good luck. At least thats how I took it.I took a chance and went right. I marched quickly to the first door, looked at it, saw itwasnt the name I needed and marched on. Fortunately, I found his door withoutrunning into any more officers. My flightmates werent so lucky. One of them marchedright passed an officer without bracing the wall or greeting. OOOOH, thats going tohurt. That unfortunate souls mistake showed me what FTO welcome day was all about.All I heard was "ON YOUR FACE. HUP, TWO, HUP, TWO. ON YOUR BACK. HUP, TWO,HUP, TWO." This is where the push-ups began. They didnt end until week three. Iveheard of people doing up to 300 push-ups and 300 sit-ups a day.While I was waiting outside my FTOs door I was thinking of what I had to do when it wasmy turn. First, I knock hard on the door once. Then, I say, "SIR, OT FREY REQUESTSPERMISSION TO ENTER!" Once he says enter, I march in the door to three feet directlycentered in front of his desk, salute and say, "SIR, OT FREY REPORTS AS ORDERED!"From there, I listen to his directions. When the meeting is over, I stand up directlycentered in front of his desk and say, "WILL THAT BE ALL, SIR?" Hell say, "That will beall." Ill salute and give the proper greeting, execute a facing movement, and get thehell out of there. Dont blow anyone else in the room off!I think its my turn. OK, Tim, remember the procedures and make no mistakes! Iknocked as hard as I could and bellowed out, "SIR, OT FREY REQUESTS PERMISSION TOENTER!" The next thing I hear is "What are you doing? Cant you see someone else isalready in here!" DOOOOOOOO! "Hup, Two, Hup, Two."Week six is the transition point in OTS. Its where youre no longer the slimy lower class.You get to be somebody again (at least from 1600 - 2300). In the two weeks prior tothis, everyone was looking for that perfect job to take over from the upper class. Noone wanted to be stuck with a crappy job. I, on the other hand, was almost certain thatId have a crappy job that I didnt want so I didnt even bother looking. I was one of thefew who had a talent coming in to OTS -- I could march a flight. If I could do nothingelse right, I could march and I did it well. I was proud of the fact that when my flightdidnt want to get in trouble that day, they asked me to march the flight. To illustrate
this Ill digress for a moment. There was one evening in OTS when we got to go toOTSAC (basically a rec. center) for the first time. Part of the hazing -- I mean training-- our upper class gave us was to play baseball marching. Each member of the flighthad an opportunity to march the flight. If you screwed up, you got a strike, you gotyelled at, and you got fired. On the way there, eight of my eleven flightmates got fired.I was trying to hide, hoping I wouldnt be next. On the way back it was inevitable. I wasthe last to go. I started marching and I was doing well. I guess the upperclassmendidnt like that, so they tried to mess me up. As one would yell at me, the other wouldtell me to recite something from the talon. I was getting pissed off. Normally, I wouldhave recited something easy like the Air Force vision. This time, I wanted to show themthat they couldnt beat me so I recited Article 1 of the code of conduct. As I did thatwhile marching the flight, you could feel the air being let out of their balloons. Smallvictories were the keys to survival.And now back to the story. Theres only one job in the wing that requires you to be ableto march a flight -- Lower Flight Commander (LFC). I acquiesced to the fact that I wouldbecome what we all hated. The LFC is the one who makes your lower class life hellwhen the FTOs and TIs have gone home. Theyre responsible for ensuring you knowhow to march, clean your room, wear your uniform right, and get to class on time.Theyre the parasites who gnaw at your self-esteem until its gone. Darn it -- I wasgoing to be the best LFC OTS had ever seen.Boards are held to determine who gets the top nine positions and who becomes LFCs inthe wing. Theres a squadron board to determine the LFCs and who will be put beforethe wing board for the top nine positions. The board members are the current squadronCC and three LFCs. Four FTOs are in the room as observers. Its like any other boardyouve ever seen. You knock on the door, report into the squadron CC, sit at attention,answer their questions, report out, and leave in a military fashion. Eleven of us wentbefore the squadron board. Four of us were selected as LFCs, four were selected to gobefore the wing board, and three were not selected. As the title of this story explains, Iwasnt selected as an LFC.Theres only one thing to note about the wing board. After the board we were broughtin groups of four to be told what we were. I was going in first with the other threesquadron CCs. The people we were seeing were FTOs and the Major in charge of thewing. Again, we were supposed to march in, report in, listen, report out, and march outin a military fashion together. Well, we didnt have time to discuss an exit strategy.Everything went well until I said post. I turned right and everyone else turned left. All Iremember is the Major saying, "Well this should be good."I had no idea what the squadron CC was supposed to do, so I decided to make it up as Iwent along.
Vigilant WarriorBackground Info -- Vigilant Warrior is the culmination of all of the leadership exercisesyouve experienced in OTS. Its a weeklong exercise thats designed to put the OTWings leadership skills to the test. Its designed to be as realistic as possible. VigilantWarrior is a campsite that must be defended from hostile forces. The TIs and FTOs arethe enemy so they dont help at all. We had to develop, man, and execute the plan byourselves. Because I was squadron one CC, I had the lovely title of Security ForcesCommander. The survival of the camp, therefore, rested solely on my shoulders. In theweeks prior to Vigilant Warrior, the OT Wing received messages via the TIs regarding thedeteriorating relationships with the hostile forces. The messages explained the buildupof forces, their movement, and our requirements. The way we received the messageswas fun. One or two of the top nine would go to the TIs office, hear the message andread it if we wanted to, and leave. We couldnt take a copy or take notes. All of theinformation we received had to be remembered. We had to set up a mobility processingline, acquire the necessary gear, and establish a plan.D-day -- One good thing about OTS is we could determine exactly when we were goingto be mobilized. We spent the entire night before the trip getting everything together. Iknew we were going to go about 0230, because thats when our upper class left. Ourbuilding had the main CQ in it so I was pretty sure that Id be the first notified of ourmobilization. Being the anal kind of guy that I am, I didnt sleep at all, because I didntwant anything go wrong. About 0130 I got a gentle knock on my door from a veryfrightened lower classman (the lower class isnt allowed to know anything about VigilantWarrior until its their turn to go). He gives me a fragmented message from one of theTIs, I guess he wasnt paying attention. I go running through the quad (our dormbuildings were built in a square) playing Paul Revere. I woke up the top nine and wemobilize. Within 45 minutes we were all (105 of us) formed up outside and ready tomarch to the mobility processing station. Two hours later we finally process the line,because we werent allowed to start until the TI got there. We loaded the buses headedfor Vigilant Warrior.Arrival at Vigilant Warrior -- Wow was this a fun part. Once we arrived at VigilantWarrior, we were dropped off at the road. We began unloading our packs from thetruck. All of the sudden, we heard these loud voices yelling from a distance. We lookedup the gravel road to see a lot of FTOs running and screaming. Oh shit, what now.Evidently, we went back to day one without knowing it. The next thing I knew, we hadcountless FTOs screaming at us to hurry up, get our packs, and start running. In thepast, I found that as a squadron CC if I were to begin yelling at my people to motivatethem, the FTOs would normally back off. Its easier to hear one of your classmatesyelling at you, because you know its not personal. I was wrong this time. The yelling
only intensified. Once everyone got their packs and kind of had them on, we beganrunning (not an easy chore with these packs). We ran down the road until we came intothe woods. From there we had to low crawl with our packs at a very fast rate over rocks,classmates, and whatever else got in the way. (Keep in mind, the FTOs are screaming atus every step of the way.) When we werent low crawling we were running. It only tookus about twenty minutes to get to the camp, but it was the longest twenty minutes Iveexperienced in a long time. I was getting scared, because I couldnt handle an entireweek of this. Fortunately, that was the end of yelling at OTS. The rest of the time wewere treated better. I guess the trip into VW was a rite of passage.Vigilant Warrior Layout -- Vigilant Warrior was a campsite in the middle of the woods.There was a clearing with around 10 large stationary tents. There was a tent ofmale/female bathrooms and showers, although no one used the shower until the lastday. There was a mess tent a little way down the road. The TIs/FTOs had a housedirectly outside of the campsite that they used as a base camp. (Remember theyre theenemy.)Vigilant Warrior Daytime Hours -- During daytime hours, the FTOs and TIs were normal.By that, I mean they were in charge of us. During the day, we completed missions. Eachflight, with their FTO, would receive a mission briefing and we had a certain time limit tocomplete the mission. The details are well beyond the scope of this email, so justpicture Rambo going on a mission to rescue soldiers and youll get the picture. Wecarried dummy M-16s, people died and everything. When people died, we had to carrythem out. We could use stretchers or just carry them over our shoulders. I was theworkhorse of the flight. When people died, no one in my flight seemed to be strongenough to carry them out. No, I wasnt stronger than those in my flight, but I wanted toget the job done without crying about it. My FTO recognized this on one mission anddecided to kill me and see how long it would take my flight to realize it.The days were physically demanding. Imagine doing physical conditioning from 0800 to1600 each day. There were short, usually 15 minute, breaks in between each mission.Imagine carrying someone all day long -- sometimes running with them lying over yourshoulders. It was rough, but fun. In fact, there was one poor soul -- not from our flight-- who killed everyone in his flight in the woods. He had to carry them all out one byone. I felt sorry for him. (Side note: This picture Im painting may seem very negative,but its not. The atmosphere is very positive. Each flight is competing with other flightsto complete more missions. The FTOs are nice as long as youre motivated and followthe established protocol.)VW at Night - the fun begins -- Once the daily missions ended we had the rest of thedaylight hours to establish a perimeter, man the perimeter, and eat. Basically, we wereputting my plan to work. We had to have a physical perimeter. By that, I mean we hadto put up some kind of perimeter fence. We used police tape for both an inner and
outer perimeter. I wont go into the gory details. Ill simply try to paint a picture of theevents and the atmosphere. Once daylight ended, the fun began. The camp had aloudspeaker system that the enemy used for psychological warfare. The first night, theyplayed a radio station that was stuck between Cuban music and a Cuban soccer game.To say they played it is an understatement. The loudspeaker was so loud that you hadto yell at whomever you were speaking to directly in front of you so they could hear you.Again, being the anal guy that I am, I stayed up for both shifts just to ensure the planwas working. (We didnt have time to train a second in command properly, soempowerment wasnt an option.) The first night went well. We only had ten of ourpeople killed. (To kill someone you tagged them and said youre dead/youre captured/etc.) They tried to infiltrate us up to 2300. Theyd pull the tape down in one area andhope that wed send everyone to that area so they could come in on the opposite end.We didnt fall into their trap, and consequently, we won that night.Night number 2 -- The second night, we didnt do so well. I put the same plan intoeffect, but with a different team. The first night I had my squadron and squadron fourworking the perimeter. Both of our squadrons worked well together, so my plan workedwell. The second nights team wasnt as comfortable with me so they listened to theirsquadron CC, who was an idiot. The TIs/FTOs started playing hardball. Instead of theCuban music, they played Barbie Girl. Imagine listening to "Im a Barbie Girl, in a Barbieworld" for six hours continuously at a volume that resembles fingernails screechingdown a chalkboard. In addition to the music, they brought out the vehicles. For ourentry control, we had sandbags stacked to about 3 high. They decided to bring a four-wheel drive full of FTOs through our ECP. You should have seen the non-prior militaryguys wetting themselves. I took my gun along with some of my "special" forces up tothe truck and stood in front of it. They kept yelling for some food. (Remember thatthese guys are enemy forces.) In one of our messages, we were told to give them food ifthey asked for it. The only thing we had was Zebra Cakes. We gave them what we had,but they didnt like it. After some more yelling about us insulting them with ZebraCakes, they left. Later, Lt Sutton came up to the ECP in a flight suit with a crutch,claiming to be a downed American Pilot. My gate guards brought him in withoutsearching him. I immediately stopped them, forced them to put him on the ground sowe could search him. We found two problems. First, the crutch he had was full ofdynamite so I got rid of it. Second, I sat him down on an anthill. All throughout theinterrogation, he kept hopping around because he had ants in his pants. It washilarious. At the end of the night we lost 19 people and the FTOs lost 3. This nightwent to them. Score: OTs - 1; FTOs - 1Final Night 3 - the tiebreaker -- The third night the FTOs brought everything they had.Thank god they didnt play Barbie Girl again or we would have surrendered. That nightthey played "Funk Soul Brother" for six hours. If youre not familiar with the song, itgoes "Right about now, Funk soul brother. Check it out now, funk soul brother." It does
this constantly for four minutes or so. We actually liked it better than Barbie Girl.Anyway, within the first 30 minutes they brought the truck out again, but this time theywerent leaving so easy. Again, I brought some of my forces up to the gate with me tostop the infiltration. Just as before, I stood in front of the truck and told them to leaveor they would be shot. This time they moved the truck forward and actually hit me! Idont think they knew that they hit me, but they did. I didnt move though and thingsgot ugly. This truck had the brightest lights on it. They turned the brights on and theKC lights so we couldnt see what they were doing. The lights were blinding. Out of thecorner of my eyes I saw my two gate guards get killed. Then I saw my not so "special"forces get killed. I started calling on the radio for reinforcements, but no one came.The next thing I knew I was all alone with four or five FTOs. I saw Lt Sutton run into thecamp so I chased him. He saw me and turned around. We had a brief standoff. I dovefor his leg and he slapped me on my back, killing me instantly. I survived two nights ofaction only to be killed within the first hour of the most important night. The funny partis I couldnt tell anyone that I was dead. I had to go to the morgue (the chow hall) andwait for them to hear that I was no longer alive. It was hilarious listening to the chaoson the radio as they would call for me, but I couldnt answer. The way they found outwas I had to call down to them and tell some of the recently deceased to come to themorgue like they were supposed to. I heard the wing commander call the commandpost and say, "Kittens Den, who was that on the radio?" Kittens Den responded, "Uh thatwas the former SF1." The radio went silent. The night went bad. In about two hours Ihad 50 of my classmates with me in the morgue. Eventually, the camp was incineratedby a nuclear blast.If I were ever asked about the highlight of OTS, Id have to say it was Vigilant Warrior. Idont know if it would have been as fun if I wasnt the Security Forces Commander, but itdoesnt matter now does it.