1. Your name (as you would like it to appear on the website): Michelle
2. Where did your soldier attend basic training? Sand Hill, Ft. Benning
3. When did he attend basic training? 12/29/09-3/11/10
4. How often did you hear from him? (Phone and letters) I heard from him quite a bit during basic training. The week or so was reception. During reception he was able to call me every night. He could talk to me for as long as he wanted to during reception, as long as he had a battle buddy with him. During reception he called me from the pay phones using his calling card. He would talk for maybe 20-45 minutes, but it was cold standing outside and the battle buddies didn’t want to be out their for long so he had to cut his calls shorter than he wanted to.
They moved down range to Sand Hill where basic training would actually take place on 1/7/10. He told me the day before when he called from reception (1/6/10) that he was guaranteed by the drill sergeant to be able to make a phone call in the first 72hrs. I heard from him that Sunday for 10 minutes. This is when he gave me an address so that I could write him. He was very sad on the phone and later told me that call was! the hardest one he ever had to make. It was an emotional call for both of us. He was actually lucky because he later told me that other platoons only got a 1 minute call.
He was in the first basic training cycle for 2010. There were 3 platoons, and usually there are 4. Out of the 3 platoons, he had the best drill sergeants, as they gave them their phones the most and let them talk the longest. Anyways, after the first call, it was 2 weeks till I heard from him again. He told me to mail his cell phone during that first call too, as they were allowed to use them to make calls. I sent it 2 day priority! The 2nd call my husband made from basic was 45 minutes long. Then it was 2 more weeks till I received another call. The 3rd call was on Super Bowl Sunday and was 9 hours long.
Then he was able to call every Sunday after that and he had his phone for most of the day. He even got it late some Saturdays and got to keep it overnight in his locker for use the ! next day. After the last FTX, which was 1.5 weeks before he graduated, he was pretty much able to keep his cell phone. They just had him lock it up in his locker. There was only one day I didn’t talk to him at this point. He was allowed to call or text when he was cleaning his rifle, cleaning out his locker, etc.
The only times he wasn’t allowed to call at this point was when they went to chow, formation, etc. There was one time that his drill sergeant let his platoon keep their phones an extra day longer than the other 2 platoons got to. As I said, he just lucked out and had the best drill sergeants who gave the most phone time. It wasn’t this way for the other platoons.
As far as letters went, my husband pretty much wrote me every day, though I didn’t get a letter every day. He wasn’t able to mail a letter out every day. He could have, but he combined a few days at a time, as he didn’t always have much time to write but a few lines. I got an average of 2-3 letters a week from my wonderful husband. I ! wrote my husband every day. In fact, he was the first to receive mail in his platoon. By the end the drill sergeant joked with my husband telling him that his packages were always the thickest so if there was a thick package then he knew it was for my husband. I sent him lots of pictures and cards too. Write your soldier every day. Letters during basic are like gold!
5. How long was it before you heard from him the first time? I heard from my husband every day during reception, and then 3 days for the first time when actual basic started.
6. How long did it take to receive a mailing address for him? He was able to give me the mailing address in the first phone call he made to me from basic.
7. Were there any restrictions on what you could send him? No food and limited reading material. I found out towards the end that I could have mailed him magazines and books as long as they were military related. I did end up sending him some military magazines so that he could have reading material. Go to the bookstore and get your soldier some military related reading material. He’s allowed to have it. I also could send as many pictures as I wanted to, as long as they were appropriate of course. I could also send him cards, even the ones that you can record your voice in.
8. Were you sent information about family day and graduation? Yes. I received 2 letters from the commander all together. The first one came 2 weeks after basic started and also contained the address to mail him stuff, which I already had when he called me. The 2nd letter came about 3 weeks before graduation, and had driving directions, who to contact to get help with lodging, etc.
9. Did he have a family day? If so, please describe. Family day was awesome. After not seeing my husband for so long, it never felt so good to hug him. We have 3 children, 8, 5, and 9 months and we all just cried and hugged each other. He was allowed to leave off base right after the turning blue ceremony and didn’t have to be back till 8pm. The same went for graduation day. It was the best 2 days ever!
10. Please describe the graduation ceremony. Graduation was supposed to be at the infantry museum, but got changed to the barracks at the last minute due to rain. So there wasn’t a show with the tanks or anything like there was supposed to be. This was the first time they ever had it in the barracks. It was short, about 30 minutes, and I am glad for that. It just gave me more time with my husband.
11. Is there a website for his basic training unit? Is there a place to see pictures of his training online? Yes, this information is sent in the first letter you receive. The website is https://www.benning.army.mil/infantry/basictraining/ I suggest checking it out. It is helpful. You can also go on you tube to find videos of basic training at Ft. Benning.
12. Any other tips or information? Expect the unexpected. We have learned with the army that things can change on a dime. Basic training is very hard to get through when you are married and have children. Know that it is just as hard for him as it is for you. It goes quicker than you think. Just keep yourself busy and send those letters to your soldier. He needs them, as it is his only connection to the outside world.