What is Boot Camp Like?

navy nukes kissingWho Had Sex at Boot Camp?

Near the end of Boot Camp they have amnesty day. That’s when you tell your Division Commander everything that you did behind his back without getting in trouble. The first question he asked us was, “Who got laid in Boot Camp?” Two guys raised their hand. One was a large black gentleman from Georgia who was our Master at Arms and the Other was this pudgy white guy from Boston who was our Division Chaplain. Somehow both of them managed to arrange clandestine meetings with 2 of the girls from the female barracks up stairs and they did the deed.

Not one Nuke got away with anything in Boot Camp. In Boot Camp, and the rest of the Navy, there is a general hate for Nukes. The rest of the Navy (the Conventional Navy) thinks that Nukes get all kinds of good deals and have great, easy Navy Lives, and get paid tons and tons of money. To make up for this, there is some kind of unwritten rule that you should start bone-ing Navy Nukes right from the beginning…right in Boot Camp.

In Boot Camp you find out that “Nuke” is actually only one-half of the word, and only the last half at that. The first half of the word starts with “F” and rhymes with Truckin’. That’s what they call us in boot camp.

My first day of boot camp, I didn’t sleep for about 60 hours.

You get off the plane in the morning(like 0200 morning), take a bus to Great Lakes, take a piss test, mail your clothes back to mom in a box, get your head shaved, go to breakfast, eat green eggs and ham (yes that was actually the first thing I ate in the Navy), and then the next day is a blur until some 48 hours later you finally get to sleep…for about 27 minutes until your Recruit Division Commander (DC) wakes you up by throwing aluminum trash cans into the middle of the compartment. Then you rush to stand at attention by your bed.

This is the first conversation I heard at Boot Camp.




“I am looking at you petty officer.”


“I have a lazy eyeball petty officer.”


The guy he was talking to (we’ll call him Beaner) must have been the most unlucky guy I have ever met. Yes he had a lazy eye, and he walked funny (they called it a lilt), and he talked funny (not quite a lisp but lisp-ish), and he dressed…different, and everyone I ever met in the Navy made fun of him involuntarily (kind of like breathing). Beaner would go on to be my room mate at A-School, be in my power school class, we went to different prototypes, but 2 months after I checked in aboard the USS John C. Stennis, good ole Beaner comes lilting down the berthing ladder while I’m watching TV in the lounge.

Even today (some 15 years later) I find myself making fun of him…out loud…on Facebook…texting old navy buddies…it’s like turrets. I guarantee you, within the last 2 hours, at least one of my old Navy buddies has involuntarily made fun of the Beaner, either out loud, or to himself in his mind.

Don’t cry at Boot Camp.

Anyway, back to Boot Camp. I did lots of pushups and sit-ups and running to prepare for Boot Camp so when I got there all the physical stuff was easy for me. And I watched Full Metal Jacket and Platoon a few times just to learn how to act. When the DC asked me why I made a particular mistake I responded with, “I was stupid Petty Officer.” And he loved me forever after that, even told my parents at graduation that I was one of those hard chargers.

There was one dude named Gutz who cried…BIG MISTAKE. Never cry at Boot Camp, then you become someones Pet Project. We had 3 DCs, MM1 Milan was a Navy Diver and General Ninja (who we saw a total of twice during Boot Camp), MM1 Ceasar was a skinny muscular, freaking ripped, bald, black guy with one of those voices you get from killing gooks in the Nam. and QM1 Payne was a fat, slobbish, jerk of a country boy who only let us listen to music that he called “goat rope” when we were getting punished with endless amounts of exercise.

One day we were doing endless amounts of pushups and Gutz started crying. QM1 Payne looked like he just hit the game winning homer in the World Series. He jumps out of his chair and gets on the floor like a rabid dog and starts yelling at Gutz. From that day forward Gutz was QM1 Payne’s Pet Project. Every spare moment he would take Gutz aside and yell at him and make him do pushups or jump for the sky’s, or do endless amounts of jumping jacks while singing, “I asked my mom for fifty cents to see the elephant jump the fence he jumped so high he touched the sky he didn’t come down till the fourth of July…one petty officer…I asked my mom…”

navy nuke at boot campSometimes they would give us free time and we could go sit outside in the court yard…everyone except Gutz. From outside in the court yard we could here Gutz’ dog tags jingling as QM1 Payne made him jump as high as he could countless number of times. “JUMP GUTZ FUKIN JUMP!!!”

Sometimes he’d get tired of yelling at him and bring in other DCs from other divisions to yell at him. Gutz was a skiddish, shy, meek, skinny white boy and I guess that’s why that jerk Payne singled him out…so don’t ever cry at Boot Camp.

On the last day of Boot Camp you wait around in the compartment. You wait for your bus to arrive and you sit there on your packed sea bag in your Dress Uniform waiting to go to your next duty station. I remember there were 5 people left still waiting in the compartment for our bus to arrive. Me and the Beaner and the 2 other Nukes from our Division and Gutz, who was not a Nuke, I think he was a sonar tech or some kind of submariner rate. Anyway QM1 Payne and MM1 Ceasar were sitting in the DC Office BS-ing and waiting for the call that our bus was here so that they could go home. Then MM1 Ceasar yells out of the office in his menacing voice, “Get yer shet yer bus is here!”

We all start strapping on our sea bags and walking past the office and out of the compartment. Beaner and the 2 other Nukes were leading the way, Gutz was behind them, and I was behind Gutz. As Gutz walked passed the open office door QM1 Payne jumps out of the door and yells in a loud booming voice, “FUKING JUMP GUTZ!!!!”

Beaner and the 2 other Nukes crapped their pants and jumped right out of their socks. Gutz had absolutely no reaction, almost like he didn’t even hear it. QM1 Payne just kind of smiled and looked back at MM1 Ceasar like a proud father.

I was in a 900 Division in Boot Camp.

navy nukeOur Division was called Triple Threat. Triple Threat performs in parades or at local ball games and performs at every graduation. Triple threat consists of a Brass Band, Choir, and Guys who twirl and throw rifles. I was one of the guys who twirled and threw rifles. Between learning how to be a sailor and doing a ton of pushups and eating and cleaning the bathroom all day, we had to learn and practice a rifle routine kind of like you see the Marines do on TV only not nearly as cool or flawless but still pretty good and entertaining. One day we got to go perform at a local high school foot ball game. This was probably about week 5 of Boot Camp. It was the first time we had seen real women or even been off the base in some 5 weeks.

I remember walking into the foot ball stadium and you could smell the perfume. You usually can’t smell perfume when you are just walking around at the mall or at work. But spend 5 weeks with 50 smelly dirty guys sweating and crapping all day and your nose becomes very sensitive to females and perfume. You can smell it a mile away.

On this particular trip, we had to stop and eat at McDonalds. Some guys were spending $20 and $30 at McDonalds. Today that’s not a lot of food, but back in 1995 that was something like 72 Big Macs. Dudes were eating Big Macs like it was the end of the world. I just had the 2 cheesburger meal. I don’t think they even have the two cheeseburger meal any more, but that’s what I ate that day in the summer of 1995.

And I wet my bed in Boot Camp.

No lie!

The summer of 1995 was one of the hottest on record in Chicago. People (old people) were literally dying in Chicago because of the heat. Then it became very important for us to be hydrated. We had to always be drinking out of our canteens (which carry like a liter of so of water) and we had to always be re-filling our canteens. If you were not constantly drinking your canteen you got in trouble and if you were ever caught with a canteen that was not completely full you got in trouble. My first introduction to a genuine Catch-22.

navy nukesI was also the Assistant Laundry Petty Officer while I was in Boot Camp, which means when the Real Laundry Petty Officer screwed up, I got to do push ups and jumping jacks with him. Anyway the real laundry petty officer was a fat gay guy named Chris who was also Mexican and was always sweating buckets of sweat and always pulling his pants up because when they issued him pants at the beginning of boot camp he was even fatter but now after doing tons of push ups and jumping jacks he was about 30 pounds lighter but they didn’t re-issue him any pants. Nobody made any bones about him being gay, he didn’t even try to hide it, and MM1 Ceasar even let him have his own shower time privately, which made me want to be gay too because all of us straight guys got to shower with 10 other guys at the same time while a shower watch was posted to keep an eye on us.

Anyway around our third week we were failing every bathroom inspection (they called the bathroom the head). We were failing every head inspection so one day we spent the whole day drinking and re-filling our canteens, doing pushups and jumping jacks, cleaning the bathroom, and drinking and re-filling our canteens. Then at the end of the day before we went to bed we all had to go fill our canteens up and then stand at the foot of our bed and chug it.

I probably weighed 110 lbs in boot camp and I don’t think the Navy knew too much about the amount of water my body required to keep from dying during one of the hottest Chicago summers on record. Hell, I used to lift weights and hit the punching bag in my garage during the summer in Houston with the door closed and the dryer going. And I didn’t have no dang canteen to keep me alive back then.

Anyway I must have consumed 32 gallons of water that day. About 2 minutes after lights out my dang teeth were floating and I had to piss like a race horse. I get out of bed and go to the head and they’ve stationed a watch to make sure nobody goes into the head because they want to make sure we pass our Head inspection in the morning.

I begged the watch, a short fat midgety Italian looking guy named Roberts, we called him white Roberts because we also had a black guy named Roberts (who we just called Roberts and not black Roberts). But white Roberts was not letting me into the head, no way no how. So I go back to my bunk (I had the bottom bunk another guy from Texas named Civic had the top bunk) and fell asleep. The next morning I wake up completely soaked in my own urine, my sheets are stained yellow, the whole nine yards.

I had heard stories about you getting kicked out of the Navy if you wet the bed so I did not want this to get out. I walk up to Chris, the real Laundry Petty Officer and tell him what happened. He was real cool about it and didn’t say anything to anybody, he just made everyone strip the sheets off of their bunks (we called them racks) and said we are doing laundry today. That was my first experience with a gay guy in the Navy so I never had nothing against no gay guys in the Navy. One thing I learned about gay guys in the Navy is that they really knew how to network and therefore could really get stuff done and therefore you didn’t want to be on their bad side (which is how I qualified Surface Warefare in 2 days). No sir, I never had no problem with any gay guys in the Navy (except for one corpsman on the John C. Stennis but that’s a story for another time).

Nobody ever found out about me wetting the bed in Boot Camp except Civic, but he was also from Texas and didn’t say anything to anybody.

We did a lot of jumping jacks and pushups in boot camp and a lot of marching around and learning how to say yes sir and no sir. Some idiots insisted on only saying yes instead of yes sir and they got to do even more push ups. We woke up at 0400 every morning and went to bed at 2130 every day for eight weeks. I was a Navy Nuke and that was my Boot Camp experience.

Click Here to Join NNJF Newsletter


Author: navynukejobfinder

I did six years as a surface nuke ET. Then college, then grad school. Now I moderate this forum. Gooooooo navy!