He has been gone for six weeks now, with three weeks of basic training under his belt. That means six more to go before he graduates.
The picture below is my son, stretched out along a single width of rope, trying to get to the other side without falling off. If you look closely, you can see that he has been issued the standard Army black plastic-framed Clark Kent glasses. The photo was in the D Company (Delta Dawgs) newsletter, which is how I was able to get a copy. Thank you, Captain McNichol.
So far, he has successfully made it through:
First Aid, where they learned to give each other IVs (Oh, joy, Oh, rapture.), dressing and bandaging wounds and evaluating a casualty under battlefield conditions.
The Gas Chamber, where each soldier was exposed to a volatile form of tear gas. Nathan said it was the worst thing he has ever done. And that includes eating chicken feet in Mexico. (Or bananas with mayonnaise and sugar. It was served as a dessert and he had to eat it. Blecch.)
The Confidence Course, which is where the photo above was taken.
Army Combatives and Land Navigation, where his platoon was taken into the woods and given instruction to find their way back. Nathan now understands why Fort Leonard Wood is appropriately nicknamed Fort "Lost In the Woods."
Nathan is able to call home on Sundays, and after church we speed home to get to the phone in time for his call. So much different than when he was on his mission in Mexico and was only able to call on Mother's Day and Christmas.
His phone calls are always positive. He has made a few friends, found a great group of LDS (Mormon) soldiers that he goes to church with, and even likes his Drill Sergeant. That, I believe, is a high compliment for someone who is usually so despised.
In the next six weeks, he will be working with his M-16, which he has named Chancho for a line in Nacho Libre "No, Chancho, I will never leave you.", because he must keep it with him at all times. Learning how to use a hand grenade and the various weapons that are used by the military and going on yet another survival course.
The last phase of basic training involves live fire, and I think they may want to reconsider giving families that information, especially the mothers. Live fire and your child are not two things you want to see together, even though you know it has to be.
All in all, this was the right decision for Nathan. Once his training is over and he is at the Defense Language Institute learning new languages, he will flourish.
Until then, I am waiting for October 23, when I will be able to give him a hug, meet his friends and his leaders and watch him graduate.
Just remember, Nathan - Duck!!