Azimuths, Chiggers, and Dirty Boots

I have the self-diagnosed disease of being “directionally impaired.”  That’s not to say I don’t know my left from my right, I’m rather confident on that front.  But if you asked me how to get to the nearest Wal-Mart from my house, I’d probably direct you towards….my mom, because she’s the direction genius of the family.  Being that this condition has haunted me ever since I started driving (I’ve gotten “lost” on the beltway multiple times,) it was no shock to me that I was shakin’ in my boots as I made the trek to the Matoaka Trail Head for the first ROTC Land Navigation Lab of the year.

At least I made it there without any difficulty.  It was time for the brief and on the command of “fall out,” the company gathered in a horseshoe formation around the leading cadet.  I felt pretty official as I whipped out my pen and paper and began copying down every word said by the MS 4’s (senior cadets.)  I was NOT going to be the cadet that everybody started blowing their whistles for because I had gotten lost.  No, no, no.  I braced myself when I was handed a map, a compass, and a protractor; I began plotting.  And my points were correct!  Granted, I was much more at ease when our MS 4 (the freshman cadets were matched up with a senior) explained the process in such great detail.  His precision and knowledge is amazing!  After getting our pace counts for 100m, we began our journey into the wild abyss before us.  This was shortly after I was the laughing stock of the evening because I freaked out when a spider scurried across my map (as I was complaining because my boots were “too clean;” I wanted to dirty them up.)  Good job, Tarah.  I’m going to be a soldier and I can’t handle a teeny spider?  Oh boy.  Anyhow, I ended up with several spider webs to the face and chiggers in my boots (which I am consciously resisting to scratch as I write.)  BUT…my group and I found our points and returned to the designated area right on time, and that is all that matters.  When it comes down to the wire, which it will someday in my future as a soldier in the United States Army, and I am racing the enemy to a certain point, I’m not going to have time to stop and clear the spider webs.

You live and you learn.  Today I learned how to shoot an azimuth, a concept that was totally beyond me 4 hours ago. I learned how to combine the strengths of a team to accomplish the task faster.  I found somebody to admire as a mentor and fellow cadet.  I lived through my first land navigation lab and I loved my first land navigation lab.


Cadet Romano

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