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Now that you’ve made it through Week 3 of Air Force Basic Training, you are nearly an expert. By week 4, you know how to make your bed (or pop-tart it – where you get in, sleep, and wake back up with the sheets barely unmoved), and you’re starting to feel comfortable with your position in the flight during drill or drama. Every person in your flight assumes a role of some sort, even if not ordained by the MTIs. It’s somewhat like high school.
Week 4 is one of the best and worst weeks you’ll experience at Basic Training.
In my opinion, the gas chamber is one of the worst psych-outs known to trainees at BMT. Everyone has to do it, and some people truly believe that this will be the moment they are kicked out of training. I know I did. I thought I would never survive. I thought it would be the death of me. Read my full account of the gas chamber experience.
I’m here to tell you it is not that bad. I wish I would have listened to my husband and not been so terrified of something so quick and relatively painless. Yes, your eyes, nose, and throat will burn. It will be like you huffed up bonfire smoke with your eyes wide open. You will gag and snot will be running out of your nose. You will BAWL your eyes out and maybe even throw up. However, after 10-20 seconds, the only thing hurting is your pride. Thankfully, everyone is crying and gagging, so it’s actually comical and great to laugh at that evening.
2. You may (or may not) eat your first MRE.
If you haven’t eaten an MRE (meal ready-to-eat) by this time, you will at the gas chamber. You will spend a full day training for CBRN and the only thing to eat for lunch will be an MRE. It’s kind of exciting, and sometimes you’ll get candy in one, which is like a shining light in a place full of darkness. Still, it is an experience all of its own. And better learn how to eat one here than at BEAST (Week 5), where you will have no time at all to eat.
3. You get your name sewn on.
This is one life feels very real. Up until this point, no one knew your name. You had no name patches. You just had plain ole’ ABU’s. Now, you are somebody. Your last name will be sewn on and with it your U.S. Air Force. This was such a proud day for us. We felt so much like airmen, even though we were still just trainees. We felt like we were finally close. We could finally see the horizon. It was emotional. Some of us cried. It was awesome.
4. You FINALLY get to make your phone call home.
There is a lot of crying in Week 4. On the Sunday of Week 4 (most of the time), you will get to make your 15 minute phone call. This is so huge because by Week 4, all you want to do is hear a family member or friend’s voice. You’ve had no television, phone, music, and you are desperate. Yes, you will have adjusted, but this is the moment you get to make sure everyone is fine back home and to let them know you are fine too.
I admit, I didn’t call my parents on this one. I called my husband and had him relay information via Facebook. I cried. He cried. I couldn’t contain myself. You only have 15 minutes – sometimes less than that – and you want to make every word count. We did. Be prepared – it will be loud and your cell phone will be buzzing like crazy from Facebook notifications and text messages. Ignore them. You are not allowed to look at those and the last thing you want to do is be yelled at and lose out on your phone call because of a stupid notification. Also, the MTIs will be somewhat teasing and making fun of you. For example – if you’re talking to your girl or boyfriend and say, “I love you baby,” they might make smooching noises, etc. It’s comical, but also annoying. Just ignore them if you can.
5. You get base liberty.
Base liberty is so awesome. It’s like a patio break, only you get to go to the Mini-BX and run wild for 2-4 hours, and by run wild, I mean spend money on goods and FAST FOOD. It was the most amazing thing. So not only had we got to call our family at the beginning of the week, but mid-week, we got to go hangout and slightly relax. Did our MTIs show up at the Starbucks? Absolutely. Note: You’re not allowed to go to the Starbucks. However, you have an array of food choices to choose from and you can still get soda!
This is where I first discovered my love of Popeye’s Chicken. Who knew? I had never had it until Base Liberty, and it was delicious. Anywho, definitely one of the best parts of Week 4.
Be so grateful for this week and what it is because it is the final hump you have to get over. Yes, there is an inspection and PT assessment to see how you’re doing. You may have to do a full day of details at the parade grounds or in the cafeteria. But, you know that you are just a few weeks out at this point.
You’ll hopefully be seeing your family in just 2 and 1/2 weeks at graduation. This is why Week 4 is so emotional and eventful and you finally feel like you are going to survive and make it through. There are so many great things about Week 4, but it will still suck. Just… not as much.
However, nothing will suck like WEEK 5… the BEAST.