For those of you who don't know. RMTEX is the Religious Ministry Team Exercise. It is designed to simulate life in the field in case the chaplain is stationed with the Marines. Normally, RMTEX is designed for chaplains and RP's and consists of 40-50 people. But due to program changes, our RMTEX consisted of us 19 chaplains, Gunny, our class officer, and some corpsmen.
At 0500 we loaded up our gear into the vehicles and drove out to the camp site. We set up camp which took a couple hours and then headed to our first evolution. Team building! This would turn out to be a lot of fun, but our team wasn't too good. We completed one of the five exercises. Well sorta. We blew up one of the team members right at the end of the one we completed so I guess it means we failed all of them. Oh well, it was still fun!
After that we did combat field medic training. We were ushered into a building that looked like a town and saw a body leaking blood and filled with bullet holes and wounds. It was almost like a day in Lillian, AL on the fire department.
That night, we camped out, but it was interupted by a severe electrical storm. We evacuated the tents and went into one of the buildings and slept the night there. It was nice and warm, but the floor was hard, and the light stayed on. Not too much sleep happened that night.
Tuesday we woke up early, but since it had rained the previous night, we were told that a lot of the height evolutions would be dropped today. Much of the time at RMTEX we were up against the clock, since the Army was going to be using the course right after we finished.
The evolutions were challenging and I hurt my wrist trying to climb a rolling log that was nearly as tall as I was. After I successfully got over, I was hoping I was not going to have to do it again. But since we weren't doing some of the other evolutions we would do the same set again. So here we go, I had to do it again. This time my wrist hurt really bad. I took me three times at least to get over the log, but I made it. Short people should not do some of these evolutions....
One of the benefits of this kinder gentler RMTEX and our lack of RP's probably allowed some time to be built into the schedule. For a few hours, we took the vans back and were able to get showers and clean up a bit. That was wonderful!
My memory is a bit foggy about what else we did that day, but I think we had some briefs and some practicing of land navigation.
Here was the day I was dreading, but it turned out to be a blast. We began the day with Victory Tower. This involved a lot of things! See the picture below (It's not me). I'm scared of heights and rapelling down a 40FT complete vertical wall is not my idea of fun. However, I was not going to give Gunny the satisfaction of seeing me scared of heights. I leaned back (trusted the equipment) and gave a big jump. It was so much fun!
We did more of the parts of the tower and went on to the next thing...PT!
Gunny called this modified PT. I was thinking it wouldn't be too hard. I didn't realize it would be a modified Marine Combat Fitness test. This meant I would have to do some ammo can lifts, low crawl, body drag, fireman's carry and some pushups. This was going to be challenging. I didn't think my body would be able to lift many of the guys in class. Thankfully I ended up lifting a guy that was 170 lbs. What's more amazing, is that as a firefighter, I had never done the fireman's carry....Now I have.
The next evolution would be interesting. This was the gas chamber. For those of you who are not familiar with CS gas. Read up on it. It involves tablets and fans. Most marines go in with a concentration of 30 tablets. Most chaplain classes have about 9 tablets. Our class had 3. We chalked up the lack of tablets to sequestration.
I had this plan to go into the gas chamber and conquer it without any adverse side affects. After going through the simulation, I figured I could take my mask off, say my number and clear my mask all in one breath. I get in the chamber. Did that and was thankful! I had made it. No problems...until Gunny said. Now take off your mask. I'm thinking to myself that this is completeling insane. He never mentioned this in the simulation! After taking the mask off we were to recite the Sailor's Creed. That was all she wrote...I was coughing and my eyes were burning like crazy. We exited the chamber and I was so glad to be done with that. My worst fears were done for RMTEX. I had conqured more than I had ever thought possible. It was great!
After this, we did some hiking and more land navigation practice. We also had some incidents that led to some other trying moments in the class, but each class should keep things within the team and they don't need to be shared among others.
Land Navigation day and camp tear down! We were going to do some land navigation and see Ft. Jackson! It promised to be great. Our team had come together really well and we had found the points. Some stupid mistakes through us off, but we were excited. After eating our lovely MRE for breakfast, we were told no MRE for the rest of the day. Instead we'd have one MRE for our four people to share. Ugh.
I also decided to paint my face with camo paint. Gunny said I looked like Lou Ferrigno. I didn't recognize the name. But many people said the same thing.
We started off heading off in the right direction and quickly found our first point. The second point, we plotted in the middle of the swamp. We found it...well we found where we thought it should be, but it wasn't there. We spent two hours trying to find the point. We couldn't find it. By the grace of God we did manage to find three of our other points. By the end of the daytime land navigation my feet had it! I put some moleskin on my toe to keep from rubbing against my NWU boots. We had covered a ton of ground (Probably 10K or so during the daytime navigation). I was also starving.
I had been doing a carb free diet for 3 weeks, but at that point. We tore into our MRE. I had two bites of garlic mashed potatoes, some bites of stew and a sip of cappuccino.
Next we did some night time navigation. We hiked in full MOLLE pack to the course (Probably a half mile) This time we were told no lights at all were to be used after we plotted our points. So now, we had to memorize our Azmuth and distance. Our team was the last one out...This was not bodding well for the team. As we took off, we headed for our first point. We ended up finding...Starting Point 4...Another strike.
But we eventually found our first point...and then from there we sailed through the rest of them. We actually beat everyone back! Woo hoo! Go us! It was nice to be on top!
Friday we spent the day cleaning equipment and doing Admin stuff. So that was my week! It was physically challenging and I really learned alot about teamwork, and about myself. I also more importantly learned that God truly is in control. He had answered many prayer requests and revealed himself to me in many ways!