AMEDD BOLC Short Course
· Classes are Monday-Saturday, don’t expect very much free time
· ASUs are now required for graduation – try to come with them all ready to go
· They are talking about adding body armor to the uniform of the day while at Camp Bullis. I had to wear it a few times, and it is super uncomfortable. Then again, I’m barely 100 pounds, so all of the added weight tends to hurt.
· October 1, 2016 – BOLC will require the student to attend BOLC A in Fort Sill before coming to Ft. Sam. I’ve been told it’s pretty hardcore like basic for enlisted
·Be prepared to pack every single item on the FTX packing list. This means a lot of $$$ will be expected if you don’t have everything. I’ve easily spent close to $800 the first week alone, along with the rest of the short course students. About half of that was on the ASU.
· If you need a DA photo, this is neither the time nor the place to do it. The schedule is jam-packed. Every time someone asked a question at Fort Sam, it revolved around getting this stupid photo. You won’t have time, so get it done somewhere else.
My orders told me to report to Ft. Sam between 1100 and 1600. My flight out was delayed 4.5 hours due to a winter storm. This made me miss my connecting flight that would have gotten me in at 1115. Instead, I arrived in San Antonio at 1730. I had called A Company early on to let them know that I would be late. They didn’t seem to care, though.
When I arrived to the building my orders told me to report to, I was in the wrong place. Instead, I had to be taken to a completely different hotel on base. It all worked out, though. My hotel is the best one you can get (Candlewood Suites). Side note on the rooms: no roommate, queen size bed, mini kitchen, and private bathroom (a.k.a., Heaven). There are at least 4 different places they can put you. A large majority of the long course kids were at the Holiday Inn (building 592). There are about 40 students who are being held at the hotel over by BAMC (Powless) and have to be bussed in every day. I feel like they have it the worst.
I missed a formation that they held at 1530. They apparently met at the helicopter and filled out a bunch of inprocessing paperwork. I feel that it was a little premature to hold a formation before the end of the reporting hours, but that’s just me.
We met at the helicopter at 0530. We were separated into two groups, the ones who had inprocessed already and the latecomers (like me). We sat through a few briefs, like uniform wear and customs and courtesies. We met our class advisor, and had a few more briefs before lunch. They dismissed us for approximately 50 minutes to go to the DFAC. **Word to the wise, walk in formations to and from the schoolhouse. Apparently, there is no shortage of officers who want to “teach” the BOLC students about how to look professional. If you are walking with more than one other person, snap to it before they find you.**
After lunch, we had a few more briefs before we merged with the long course and met our platoons. After we introduced ourselves and broke up into squads within the platoon, we all went to the FTX brief together. This brief was full of great information, but my head hurt so bad because of everything they had already tried to cram into my brain. By the time I was released, it was 1830, I was hungry, and all I wanted to do was sleep.
We got to sleep in on the second day until we had formation at 0745. Today was the journey to CIF to get all of the gear we will need for the field. We had to haul that to the AMEDD building. Luckily enough, our platoon allowed us to toss the duffels into our classroom so we didn’t need to drag them all around with us. Then we attended a few briefs and took a class trip to the Clothing & Sales store to try and secure our ASUs for graduation. That was an extreme cluster****. The store employees had no idea about 60 people were coming, so they ran out of everything super fast. Another reason to have your ASUs ready to go before you come down.
I was up at 0330 to get ready to do the infamous APFT. I only had to do it because of a clerical error on my PT card, but I wasn’t alone. There were approximately 25 of us out on that track. **Side note, I highly recommend you do an APFT at your unit before you report and make sure it’s documented correctly. It will save a lot of stress because if you don’t pass the one at BOLC, you’re on a plane back home that day.** The good news is that I passed.
We had our first introduction to weapons before hitting the electronic range. I suggest wearing elbow pads for the EST. I was in so much pain and that was all I could think about while I was there.
The afternoon was spent learning land navigation with our platoons. We also started setting up our gear for the FTX. It’s a lot of stuff to bring, so packing is like playing tetris. I recommend the space saver bags to separate each individual day’s clothing.
Our one “day off” during the week was spend preparing for our CIF shakedown that was held 2 hours before we dropped off our duffels to be loaded onto the trucks. All I wanted to do was sleep in and enjoy decent food.
FTX Week 1:
For your first week, be prepared to be physically challenged for a large part of it. We did the litter obstacle course twice (once for practice), the leadership reaction course, a 4 mile road march “rehearsal,” M16 familiarization and qualifying, M9 familiarization and qualifying, and practiced for our AWTs.
Be prepared to form up extremely early each Monday morning to catch the busses to Camp Bullis. We have been told to show up at 0530 each week. Once you get to the camp, your day is usually booked solid. The days usually end around 1700 when they break for dinner. Then it’s “free time” until 2200. You spend your free time in your tents, divided up by platoons. You sleep on a cot and your platoon may have required duties, such as fire guard, roving guard, and kitchen duty. These duties will interrupt your sleep and those around you. They aren’t difficult tasks, but they can be inconvenient. This free time is also the only time you are allowed to access your cell phone. For AT&T and Verizon customers, congratulations! Your phone will work. For T-Mobile, there is a tiny spot near a set of latrines, but even that is spotty. Don’t plan on whipping your phone out to take pictures. That is the job of the platoon PAO, and that’s usually a long course officer. Your weapon and pro mask (aka, gas mask) become your best friends. They go everywhere with you. If you go to the latrine, you are to have a battle buddy accompany you and they can watch your stuff while you go in. There are showers, but you can only use them during your limited free time, and the lines can take forever. There are technically three shower trailers with about 6 showers in each. The gender with the majority gets the second trailer. We actually had to close one because it had no hot water at all. Sometimes the water shuts off on you when you’re in it. There is no way to fix it. Wednesdays were usually my shower days. I didn’t waste my time otherwise. Fridays are the best days because they are hotel days. Just power through and you’ll be back to running water and a comfortable bed. You’ll still probably have class on Saturday, but at least it starts around 8.
FTX Week 2:
Congrats! You’ve passed your first week. Now it’s time to get some of that quality medical training. You will go through Role I, II, and III this week. You assign tasks for the final week’s scenarios. It’s a pretty easy week otherwise. You will start combatives this week. Combatives is a pretty cool class (minus the mat drills that wear you out before you even start). I wouldn’t mind learning more about it once BOLC is over, though. This is also the land navigation week. You will practice day and night land navigation, then you’ll be set free. For both day and night, I skipped going to my starting point and just focused on the points closest to the roads. I was able to find all of my points with hours to spare. I’m pretty sure I flew through the night one because it was so scary out there. I hustled back to the safety of my tent in less than 2 hours. Don’t lose your map or protractor. Bring a good flashlight that can do white and red lights. Have confidence in yourself and pay attention when you’re out practicing. Ask questions often. Finally, you will go through the gas chamber this week. Note: it sucks for everyone. Just trust in your mask, flap your wings, and blink your eyes and the annoyance will pass. My mask did not seal correctly, so I got gassed immediately. I didn’t even know my own name when they tried to test me. It sucked, but I got through it. You will too.
FTX Week 3:
Finally! The last week arrived. This week focuses on putting all of that knowledge to work. You will do combatives in the morning, and there will be the “record” 4-mile foot march. (Side note: I did not pass this, and I know a large group of people that did not pass with me. They didn’t make us retest, but they wanted to see a lot of effort. Try your best. At this point in the game, especially for the older ladies, you’re just trying not to go to sick call with injuries.) We did our foot march in the pouring rain and it sucked. Land navigation re-testing also took place in the rain. Rain or shine, these events still go on.
Role I, II, and III combat scenarios are this week. Role I puts you and your platoon in a combat-like scenario with convoy operations. You are the only ones who can save your fellow soldiers and get them the help they need. This is also where the air medevac’s were for us. Have a blast with it! They give you blanks so you can simulate combat. Role II sucks! They do this on purpose. You will get so many casualties, your head will hurt (as well as your hand, arms, back, and legs after lifting 40+ stretchers all day). Just remember to focus on the patient movement and get your patients out and to the right places in a timely manner. Role III was my favorite. It feels like a small hospital and it has the ORs. Everyone agrees that this is the most easygoing day. The end of the week resulted in a dress and ceremony (D&C) competition, CIF turn in, and graduation. It went fast, but I’m so glad to be heading home.
If you have any questions, feel free to ask. I apologize for the flow of information. It's hard to come back and write the same way after 4 weeks.