9 WTF? questions Navy recruits have at boot camp

Navy RDCs (Recruit Division Commanders) turn young men and women into trained sailors through the use of strict discipline, naval tradition, alien language, and psychological mind games. The transformation is difficult by design, but those who pass are inducted into the mysteries of the deep.

But before any of that happens, the civilian recruit is hit by culture shock, and some wtf questions usually follow shortly thereafter. Here are a few.

Also read: 13 lessons every new sailor learns the hard way

1. “Are you crazy? I have to jump from how high and swim how far?”

Sponge Bob Square Pants Navy Pool Week

Meme: S–t My LPO Says

The Navy is the branch of the military that spends their deployments at sea, which why sailors need to know how to swim. However, you’d be surprised to learn the number of recruits designated to the kiddy pool on swim day. Recruits who fail the swim test take mandatory classes in addition to the unit’s drill schedule until they pass.

2. “What do you mean unf–k myself?”

Navy RTC RDC

Photo: Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Richard J. Brunson/USN

Don’t bother explaining yourself to the RDC, just fix it.

3. “I didn’t call you a sorry Petty Officer. I said, ‘Sorry, Petty Officer.'”

“Sorry” would be the polite thing to say in the civilian world, but not at boot camp. Many recruits are shocked at the RDC’s reply to “sorry.” Recruits are better off saying, “Aye aye Petty Officer.”

4. “WTF is Freedom Hall? Is that where we take a break from all this training?”

freedom hall training in RTC Great Lakes

Freedom Hall Physical Fitness Facility at RTC Great Lakes. (Photo: Scott A. Thornbloom/USN)

Freedom Hall is the Physical Fitness Facility at Recruit Training Command. Basically, it’s just a big indoor track. Don’t expect to see weights or obstacle courses, since Navy recruits run and do calisthenics for exercise.

5. “I can’t keep my eyes open. When do we get to sleep?”

Sailors get little to no sleep upon arriving at boot camp. Sleep is regularly interrupted by RDC inspections, roving watchstanders, head counts, and the occasional group punishment caused by talking shipmates.

6. “Why am I being punished? I wasn’t the one who messed up.”

This is the beginning of team building. If someone messes up, everyone suffers.

7. “WTF do you mean these uniforms are deducted from my paycheck?”

us navy boot camp processing

Photo: Scott A. Thornbloom/USN

Terrible haircuts, tighty whities, and hygiene products are deducted from recruits’ below-minimum-wage salaries.

8. “WTF is this Monopoly Money? I thought I was going to get paid in bills, not chits.”

During boot camp sailors are given chits – paper notes used as money – to purchase their toiletries and other products from Ricky Heaven (the only store and recreation center at boot camp). This “Monopoly money” is deducted from their pay, but the surprise usually causes a wtf moment.

9. “Wait, why do I have to remove my gas mask? Isn’t the point of wearing the mask to protect me from the gas?”

US Navy gas chamber training in boot camp

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The gas chamber teaches recruits to trust their equipment and focus on the task at hand. This exercise starts with the RDC explaining the logistics of the evolution followed by the effect of CS (Chlorobenzylidene-malononitrile) gas: crying, sneezing, breathing difficulty, temporary blindness, drooling, runny nose, itching, and skin irritation. These recruits in this picture are cupping their mouths because they’re prohibited from vomiting or drooling in the chamber. Violating this rule results in staying behind to clean up after themselves.

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