Army life = eventful/crazy. Our lil Army life has been going full throttle lately! Let me catch you up with what’s been going on here in good ol’ Fort Benning this last month.
Completing Blue Phase (The last one!! Yay! 🎉)
For those of you who don’t know, Zack’s training, IBOLC, consists of three different phases. Each one with their own set of challenges for my soldier. Long days, long nights, & long weeks away from home. May was the end of the boys final phase of IBOLC. Zack had only one graded event left to earn his blue cord. The 17 mile ruck march. *shudder*
The soldiers were in the field that week, & would have their final ruck march early Friday (Notice how I emphasize early. Just wait until you find out just how early it was) At the end of their 17 miles, they would earn their blue cords! Then they would officially be Infantry Officers! Wahoo!! Friday we could celebrate! Yeah!!
My best friend Caitlin & I got word that Friday morning that both of our men had earned their blue cords. (!!!!!) I expected nothing less, considering that they had already successfully completed their four mile ruck march, their six mile, eight mile, ten mile, and twelve mile (Some of those were actually ruck runs but… 🐸☕) However, what I did not expect, was how much of a toll this would take on the poor soldiers’ bodies.
Not only did they have to ruck 17 miles, but they also had to do it with basically zero sleep. Well actually, I lied, they got one whole hour of sleep after a 17 hour day. 😉 The ruck started at midnight Friday morning, & ended after 5 AM. When they finally got released, my Zack hobbled through the front door that day like he was 100 years old. How he got up the stairs by himself, I still have no idea.
Zack came home with bad trench foot. BAD. Worse than any of the Google Images I had ever seen. I tried to work my wifey magic on him, practicing multiple home remedies to cure those wrinkly toesies. But still, it took nearly the whole day for his feet to return to normal. He was thisssss close to never being able to show those feet in public again!
My poor Zack also had multiple open wounds all over his body. Those were from his uniform rubbing against him during his five & a half hours of nonstop rucking. I sped over to the store like a crazy woman, & grabbed all of the bandages, & creams I thought could help. Feeling like a cool, badass, tough wife, the cashier told me, “You make sure to take care of him,” & the vision I just had of myself was quickly replaced with tears. “I will,” I could barely get out. The Val that hurts when other people hurt was back, but that was okay. I was tough, & cool for at least three whole minutes. 😉
That weekend was spent relaxing, & for Zack, recovering. After five months of intense training, my man earned that symbolic blue cord!! He did that!! My baby was officially an Infantry Officer.
Earning My Blue Pin
The Army does a really great job making the spouses, fiances, and girlfriends of the soldiers feel welcomed. Us gals whose soldiers were in IBOLC received our own challenge to show our support. The soldiers had 55 total graded miles throughout the course of their ruck marches; we were challenged to also walk/run that many during this training. It was our little way to show support. (My dumb self accidentally did 56 miles…🙄😂 ) Thursday, May 24th we received our pins.
We met up at the central pavilion where the soldiers always are at. The man in charge pulled the handful of us gals over, & told us that we would have our ceremony in front of the battalion. The. Entire. Battalion. Do you know how many soldiers that is?! Literally hundreds of them would watch us ten girls get our pins. Only ten of us!!! All of our eyes widened, & we quickly agreed that we changed our minds. LOL. However, we knew it was way too late for that. We also knew that it was going to be beyond embarrassing… but probably hilarious.
Us gals lined up in front of the rowdy soldiers, & felt hundreds of eyes looking our way. Try to look cool, try to look cool, I urged myself. The company commander then yelled into the crowd that if their wife was receiving her pin, to come on up. The crowd of men roared with “boo’s” & “ahhh’s” while the handful of soldiers ran up to our lil “stage”. Yep, we called it. Embarrassing, but also hilarious.
They called the soldiers to attention, & it quickly went silent. “Let’s do some pre- Memorial Break PT!!” the Battalion Commander excitedly yelled to the soldiers. Us wives, & girlfriends couldn’t help but giggle at the groans throughout the crowd. “Half right! Face!” The hundreds of men in front of us all got to the ground, & our soldiers thought they were off the hook. They looked around a bit confused, but with lil smirks on their faces at the same time. That was when their commander basically said, “Not so fast! You guys, too!” & our husbands/boyfriends also had to hit the floor. Us girls just stood next to them giggling the entire time.
Once their “Pre-Memorial Break PT” ended, they continued on with our ceremony. The commander explained how the pin represented not only walking/running the same number of miles they were graded on, but also all of our support at home. How us helping our men recover after a week in the field matters. How giving them emotional support when needed matters. How everything we do for them matters. How our role is more important than typically meets the eye.
Zack’s IBOLC Graduation
June 4th, 2018. The day Zack officially graduated IBOLC. Being able to successfully complete this course is seriously such an accomplishment. These guys are not only physically very tough, but also are so smart. You should’ve seen when Zack practiced his Operation Order brief to me!! I didn’t understand all but maybe three things he said! Three! He, & the rest of the Infantry Officers that graduated that day rightfully earned their blue cords.❤💙🇺🇸
Not only did my Zack earn his blue cord, & graduate from IBOLC, but he also was on the Commandants List for being in the top 20% of his class!! The fact that his mom, & my dad flew out to attend this event made it all that much more sweet. Zack deserved all of the support in the world!! We spent the few days our parents were in Benning celebrating, exploring, & just enjoying each others company. It was great.
So, what’s next on the list for our lil Army life? First, ranger school. Then, possibly airborne school. & Lastly, moving. We just recently found out where we will be shipped to next, & I would love to tell you right now but… it deserves a whole post to itself 😉 Stay tuned!!
♡ Valerie Karen.
If you enjoyed this post & would like to read more of my work in the future, on the top righthand side of this page is a field where you can type your email into to follow this blog. (If you are on your phone it will be underneath this post) Also, if you would like to follow me on Instagram, click here! Much love.