Kilroy Joins the Army – Part XIV – FTC


My friend and fellow Not Operator author, Kilroy, said he was joining the US Army last year. We realized that his experiences would make for an interesting read, especially when there are so few online writings about what it is like, emotionally and physically, to experience modern basic training and beyond. He agreed to keep a journal of his time, and that we would publish it to Not Operator.

Kilroy tends to write his personal journals with pretty purple prose, so with his permission, I’ll be editing and paraphrasing his journal a bit to make it an easier read, with the help of my other friend and fellow Not Operator author, Michael. I’ll also be adding comments of my own in bold brackets [like this] to provide some extra context when necessary. If there’s large enough demand for it, we will post the full, unedited, version of Kilroy’s journal. To avoid making Kilroy’s experiences one giant wall-o-text, the journal will be broken up into an ongoing series of articles where it makes sense to do so. Plus, with Kilroy still in the Army, the journal is far from complete.

All entries in the Kilroy Joins the Army Series can be found here.

Without further ado, welcome to Kilroy Joins the Army – Part XIV – FTC.


Day 103

Finally got moved over to actual FTC [Fitness Training Company] today. Otherwise, the day has gone by without much activity.

So far, they inventoried our issued items twice and gave us new bunks in the facility across the street. They also took away access to our phones now, so I guess it’s back to writing letters.

I’ve been issued a bright orange belt to wear with my uniform, designating me as part of a platoon full of broken people. From here, I can focus on rebuilding the strength in my legs and passing the PT test that will allow me to go back to BCT.

A random thought that came to mind: who makes the shitty green blankets that we’re issued? It seems to be a common supplier for the rest of the Army.

My initial impression of the FTC makes it seem like a lower stress training unit that may actually allow me to train and recover properly.

I’m noticing a theme for my military career so far – trying to just keep moving forward. The motto of the 1-34th was “Always Forward” and now forward progress is all I seek. Here I’ve been assigned to a platoon called the ‘Spartans’.

Day 104

Tonight is my first night in the FTC and I’ve already been assigned the shittiest fire guard shift. I’ll be allowed to sleep at 9 PM but I’ve been given a 3:00 AM report time for fire guard.

To wrap up yesterday’s summary, we were checked into our new accommodations, our bags were taken from us, and then we were sent to do some workouts. Spending a few hours in the gym let the time pass a little more easily, but working out my upper body muscles for the first time since my leg surgery has caused them to be sore and twitchy during the night.

The positioning of my bunk makes it so I’m exposed to the light from the door to the latrines as well as a cold, unforgiving breeze from the outside that comes down right onto my head.

As far as the condition of my leg goes, I still feel pain relatively consistently, though I hope it will be alleviated in due time. Otherwise, while I look forward to putting in the work to get myself back to fighting form, right now I’m more focused on getting to leave during Christmas Exodus. While it’s true that I literally just got back recently, I look forward to enjoying more time off.

Oddly enough, despite some of the stuff they did wrong, old Alpha Company 1-34 seems to have inspired a very extreme sense of loyalty. Many of us still speak about it in a moderately positive or neutral way, and surprisingly, none of us feel any hatred for it.

Anyways, the new policy for tonight’s fire guard is that our chairs must face each other and essentially we will just stare at each other for the duration of the shift. My current shift partner is working on a word search puzzle while I’m writing in this journal.

Day 105

I had a physical therapy appointment today for the initial evaluation. Like everything else around here, I have to show up stupidly early and wait. For a 10:00 AM appointment, I had to be there at 7:30 AM.

After getting my evaluation, my day consisted of lunch and classroom activity involving a documentary covering the Desert Storm conflict.

My progress currently will be slow. Building the strength back up in my lower body will be a long process. I’m still on crutches until at least my follow up appointment in three days.

Day 106

Not much to say about today; I expect that’ll be the case often here in FTC.

I woke up and went to the gym again. Thankfully, the weather has warmed up a little. The pain in my legs seems to have lessened a bit today.

This place runs trainee CQ shifts all day, every day, so I’ve been assigned a shift during the afternoon. [For those that don’t remember, CQ stands for “Charge of Quarters”, which means guarding the front entrance to the barracks].

Days here feel like the constant loop of Groundhog Day; we wake up in the cold and dark and do the same thing until it becomes dark again.

The latest Army contractor I’ve noticed is Purell. There are OD green [olive drab] issued hand sanitizers and little Purell branded stations mounted on the walls. The germ safety posters here are also sponsored by Purell, recommending their products.

Day 107

It’s finally my first weekend at the FTC. The day began at 6:00 AM, leading straight to breakfast.

So far my day has been spent either cleaning or wasting time. During the night, my leg pain returned, and today’s activities have only aggravated it.

On Monday, I’ll follow up with my orthopedist and hopefully something will change. To borrow the idea from Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, I owe it to myself to strive for excellence and make it through daily progress.

Our afternoon consisted of lunch, a time period of nothing, and an evening meal of MREs.

Day 108

Not much happened today other than a company-wide contraband inspection. I spent the day getting extra sleep and finishing Psychology and Alchemy.

After dinner, the company was assigned the honorable duty of cleaning the battalion main office area. Since I’m still not authorized to do anything that involves a lot of heavy duty activity, I’m left sitting and observing.

I just need to take the days one step at a time. My level of success depends solely on myself. The ideas I so desperately need to retain and internalize seem phantasmagorical, ephemeral in a way that feels like I’m lying to myself. In the meanwhile, I just suck it up and continue.

Day 109

Today begins in the dark for me, as usual.

Since today is Monday, the people who are cleared to take the PT test will do so, which means that those of us not cleared to do so must take up their shifts. So I’m currently doing a shift of fire guard.

[Later in the day, Kilroy continues below].

After my follow up, I began the next phase of my recovery: weaning off my crutches. I’ve downgraded to a cane like I was using at home during part of my leave and eventually I’ll be off of it and back to walking normally. My prognosis today projects my recovery to be complete in about three and a half months.

The weather here is its own kind of insanity. The cold, bone chilling weather from a few days ago is gone, having been replaced with muggy heat that turned our bay into a convection oven.

Day 110

I’m finally making some progress, doing more exercise in the mornings now.

I have a disconcerting feeling that a majority of the food in the dining facility is from concentrate, including the milk. There’s a subtle powderiness to the milk that disturbs me slightly.

My day was spent doing a lot of waiting around, starting with a 10:00 AM class that I had to show up at 7:30 AM for.

I’ve begun to read a few of my journal entries to my peers and they’ve been an appreciative audience.

Later in the day, we had a core workout class.

For some reason, every waiting room here seems to have an Ebony magazine available. I suppose it makes sense given the demographics of the area.

Day 111

Today I experienced my first Wii Wednesday; our cardio workout in the morning was replaced with a mass game of The Michael Jackson Experience.

The rest of the post seems to be shutting down for the upcoming Thanksgiving break. Our breakfast today was limited to eggs, sausage, oats with cereal, and a similarly abbreviated salad bar. They’re promising us a more expansive lunch meal served by the people in charge. Since they need extra prep time, they’ve given us extra time to hang out between breakfast and lunch.

[Later in the day, Kilroy continues below].

Lunch turned out to be a dog and pony show consisting of slightly better food being served by higher ranking NCOs and Officers as a sign of solidarity with the common enlisted. After a few pictures and shallow pleasantries, they were all gone.

Dinner consisted of leftovers from lunch. The rest of our day was basically empty time filled with more of the same card and board games. It was relaxing, if a little bit mind numbing. I kind of wish we had been given back our phones.


This ends Kilroy Joins the Army – Part XIV – FTC. Next time we’ll pick up where we left off, as Kilroy continues his time in the Fitness Training Company.. Stay tuned for Kilroy Joins the Army – Part XV – FTC.