The Air Force Basic Military Training (BMT) is an 8.5 week process to turn you from a civilian into an Airman. When I went in 2014 it was a straight 8.5 weeks, graduation, then depart for tech school. Now BMT is 7.5 weeks, graduation, Airman’s week, then depart for tech school. My younger sister, Katie, went through basic in 2016 so I will add her insight on how Airman’s week for that post.
Week 0 is the half week, you will leave on a Tuesday from your home airport and arrive at Joint Base Lackland AFB in San Antonio, TX sometime during that day. The Air Force sends all of their trainees through one base, so no matter what you will be at Lackland.
Let’s just say the day you depart to BMT and arrive is one of the longest days ever! You spend the night at the MEPS hotel the night before and are up around 4am to eat breakfast at the hotel and load the bus and head to do your final in-processing at MEPS. You are there the first half of the day finishing up last minute medical test such as pregnancy (for females) and drug testing before you are shipped off. You also sit down and sign your final contracts. This is the last chance you have to change anything dealing with your service commitment such as from 4 to 6 years and vice versa. The MEPS personnel were not the happiest with me because I changed from a 6 year commitment to 4 years (my original plan) even though I signed into the DEP (delay enlistment program) for six years. If you want you to change your mind you can… this is YOUR career and life! Don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself, I was really nervous to tell them about changing it, but I’m glad I did!
Next is the exciting part, you officially swear into the Air Force that morning! They allow your family to come and watch the swearing-in and say your goodbyes quickly. Once everyone is done you will be dropped off at the airport with your itinerary to San Antonio!
We got dropped off at the airport at noon and didn’t depart until just before 6pm… talk about a long time to waste in an airport! I talked on the phone, got a nice meal, and chit-chatted with the others who were in my group to pass the time. We also landed in Dallas for about an hour or so layover where we saw a lot of other people heading to basic. Here most of us got in some good airport food and as much time relaxing before the next 8.5 weeks started!
We didn’t arrive in San Antonio until just before midnight and everyone got their first taste of the BMT. To greet us outside of the terminal were two military training instructors (MTIs) yelling at us to check in with them and sit down. Now not all MTIs have you do this, and thankfully the airport was deserted because we had to sit criss cross on the ground in a line while we waited for everyone else. They said to call and tell your family you landed safe, turn your phones off, and sit in silence. Some people were being dumb and still wouldn’t quit talking, which lead to more yelling. They were about 40 of us there waiting at the check-in and once everyone arrived we loaded the bus to good ole Lackland AFB!
Arrival At Lackland
The bus ride took about 30 minutes and they took us to a huge in-processing center. We got a little box dinner with a sandwich, chips, and a small pack of Oreos. Eat the Oreos cause it’s your last chance for awhile!! We were provided with all of our necessities for the moment in a mesh bag; including the lock for your locker, BMT study book, pens, sharpies, and things of that sort. I believe now they give you a black backpack that contains all of these items. Then you are transferred to a large auditorium where you wait for a LONG time until they call your name to line up, which is them putting you into your flight. Now think its past midnight at this point so you are drained and just want a bed. Some people who arrived earlier had to wait hours, especially if you play an instrument you will have to sit in the auditorium and wait for the last group to arrive (mine) and that last group is composed of a band flight. Btw I can not play an instrument, but got assigned to a band flight. You will read more about that in the upcoming blogs.
322nd Training Squadron
Second to None… COME GET SOME! <— This is what my squadron yelled every morning at PT as well as many other times throughout training! It was pitch black when we arrived at our squadron and all you can see under the yellow glow of the lights is a petite lady with her arms crossed, hip poked out, and the signature campaign hat that all MTIs wear. Needless to say, I will never forget that picture in my mind! Before stepping off the bus I remember chuckling to myself and thinking “what in the hell have I done?!”
We played the whole stand on the painted dots and pick up your bag and put it down about 15 times, remember to pack light! We ran up to the third floor where our dorm was and told to pick a bed. Imagine a large room with a lot of bunk beds in a row. I was towards the back of the bay, which I was happy for since the MTI was yelling from the front. We were told to find our matching locker.. don’t worry the bed and locker number match! You put the lock you just received on your locking drawer, mine was jammed so I was freaking out and moved to the empty bed next to it so I didn’t have to talk to the MTI. Meanwhile, she is screaming all sorts of directions at this time and we are running around like chickens with our heads cut off trying to do everything she is saying! You have so much adrenaline going right now and you are just trying to move as fast as possible.
Next, we showered and most girls stress over this part, but it wasn’t as nerve-wracking as you would think. We weren’t able to take anything but our towel with us to the shower. We had to put soap on our bodies at our locker which was so strange, but you didn’t think twice cause this was all being yelled at you without a beat missed. I swear I’m not sure how she yelled that much without stopping that night. All 40 something of us had 5 minutes to get in and out of the shower.. with only 8 shower heads. Yeah, that was setting us up for failure! It broke the ice thankfully because ever since that first night you didn’t think twice about taking a shower in a room with other girls. After that, she picked out a chow runner randomly (try to not be this person if at all possible) and gave her a paper to memorize by the morning. Then it was FINALLY lights out!!! No idea what time it was but had to be close to 3am or later!!
We did get to sleep in past the normal wake up call since we arrived so late.. then the party began all over with 3-4 female MTIs beating on lockers and yelling to get dressed and get “on the wall.” Which is just standing next to the wall by the door waiting for everyone in your flight to get there so you can head downstairs.
Since this post ended up being A LOT longer than expected… I will continue week 0 right here!