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Fort Jackson, S.C. – Basic And AIT

Fort Jackson is the largest and most active Initial Entry Training Center in the U.S. Army, training 50 percent of all soldiers and 60 percent of the women entering the Army each year. Training in excess of 45,000 basic training and advanced individual training soldiers annually. Located in the heart of the midlands region of South Carolina, Fort Jackson was incorporated into the city of Columbia in October 1968.

Basic Training is divided into two parts: Basic Combat Training and Advanced Individual Training. I attended both here at Fort Jackson from August 1988 to December 1988. Attending BCT at D co 3/61st Infantry only to move up about 4 buildings to attend AIT the same day that I graduated from Basic. Being in training I was not able to explore the post much, on the day before and the day of graduation we were allowed to leave IF we had family there for graduation. My family was unable to visit so I was stuck at the barracks, I was lucky enough for a good friend of mine and his parents to sign me out and let me join them for a short time. I was able to also walk to Burger King for a much wanted fast food then a trip to the Main PX to spend some money. A few of the many things we were unable to have for the past 2 months.

We did some crazy stuff, learned a bunch and spent most of our time learning and getting punished. I remember going to the shoppette for a few items needed, typically would consist of essentials like toothpaste, soap etc .. we abused the privilege of getting cough drops, that was our candy at the time. I also remember being put on KP duty, some guy(s) took cocoa powder from the mess hall to our barracks and ate it, the drills smelled it and turned out our entire barracks to find it. I don’t remember what happened to them or even who it was. At an FTX, some of us who got KP duty were able to ride in the back of a 5 ton back to garrison, on the way back we dug into the left over chow and found some sweet rolls and ate them up like we hadn’t eaten in days.

Made some good friends and some enemies. A few names I remember are: Reed, Troutman, Denet, Cohen, Gallo, Caldwell, Bustamente, Drexler, Drugger (or Drigger), Gonzalez and the rest will come back to me later.

All in all it was a great time, to me it was so surreal that I didn’t have to much of a difficult time getting through it. I rarely got mail and only received a few pieces from family and a few from my girlfriend who I learned later that she was cheating on me so I had to drop her when I went home before heading to my permanent duty station. Being one of the smallest in my company I did get picked on a bunch, especially from the drills like DS McNutt, Jennings, Magdelano ( i think that was his name ) and some small latina hard ass.

From the CS (Gas) chamber, rifle drills, getting smoked on the back 40, TV watch position on gravel, GI Parties, getting dehydrated and spending 2 days in the hospital, spraining my ankle, road marches to the firing ranges. I wouldn’t change a thing and am glad I chose to stick to it and complete it all.

A quick note about AIT, I don’t remember much about the actual logistical training as we spend most of our time doing push ups, getting smoked on the back 40 and getting yelled and oh and trying to stay awake. I met many awesome people, especially an awesome girl that I was able to spend a lot of time with. We had 1 entire night out away from base and one or two nights that I hung out with my boys as we went to the NCO club and partied. An experience that I will never forget.