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  • Zach Brown

Bootcamp Letters

***Language Warning – Military Warriors are Well-Versed in non-PC verbiage****


People hear 22 a day and it seems abstract; my blog hope is to introduce you to a warrior that suffered this horrendous fate. These were the letters he wrote from bootcamp at the start of a 15-year military career. I think it’s important to glimpse at his entering mental health.


DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY

BASIC TRAINING BRIGADE, UNITED STATES ARMY INFANTRY SCHOOL

FORT BENNING, GEORGIA 31905-5710


Dear_____________________________________________________  Date______________________


Just a quick note to let you know that I have arrived at my training unit and to let you know my current address.


The following items are considered as contraband and I am not authorized to have them.  Please DO NOT send them or waste the postage as they will be confiscated and destroyed upon reaching the unit: any type of food items, civilian reading material (except for religious texts i.e. Bibles etc.…), firearms of any kind, knives or swords, civilian clothing, medication of any type (prescription or nonprescription), cameras, audio or visual tapes, stuffed animals and/or dolls, plants (live or artificial), liquid of any sort, any type of tobacco products, any type of caffeine products, and any type of pornographic materials (to include pictures, postcards,  magazines, etc.…).


I am here to train to be the best soldier possible.  I am not authorized these items nor do I need the distractions.  Please DO NOT SEND THEM.


Please PASS my address and list of contraband items along to other family members and friends.


Please address all my mail as follows:

SPC Doe, Frank R.

F CO 2ND BN 54TH INF REGT

1ST Platoon, RN# 123

8775 Albanese Dr.

Ft. Benning, GA 31905


If you follow this example, then there should not be any delay in receiving my mail.

P.S.  I’ll write you a longer letter soon.  This is just a quick note to pass along my address and let you know that I am fine and have arrived at my training unit.





2008-04-19


Hey what’s up sis?  

Out here in the middle of fucking no-where at Ft. Sill, Oklahoma.  But the awesome thing is I finally got my M.O.S. (military occupation specialty) reservation for 11 Bravo (infantry rifleman) so I leave after my in-processing here on Wednesday 23 APR 08 for Ft. Benning, GA.  My basic and AIT are rolled into what’s called OUST (one unit station training) which lasts 13 weeks and 6 days.


After that I have reservations for Airborne and Air Assaults schools along with the option of Ranger School.  I’m trying to get my first duty station in Germany which would be the fucking shit, but my liaison said that was unlikely because all infantry units are pretty much in the desert or training for it.  All this paperwork sucks a big fat cock along with the daily 4 am wakeups and needle after needle which they rarely get it in right the first time. 


There are some really messed up people here, like tonight this kid was really homesick so he called the cops telling them he was suicidal so they picked him up and took him away.  Well I don’t have a return address yet because I’m leaving for Ft. Benning so could you please call everyone for me especially cousin Steve, Aunt Valerie, and Papa because I got absolutely no time right now, I’ll write or call as soon as I get a chance.  Love you, your good looking and smarter brother, just joking.


Love you,


Zachary M. Brown


PS. When you call Cuz Steve give him shit about how its 85-90*F and have a beer and dip for me.




MAY 2018


What’s going on sis, I’ve tried calling you when I get my 10 minutes a week of free time, but you never answer.


 I finally made it to Ft. Benning, but fuck they fucked up my paper work again.  Those fucking dumbasses.  But anyway things are going pretty good except waking up at 3-4 am every day.  I can’t help but laugh at some of the drill sergeants, how they make some of these kids cry.  Oh last weekend when I was at Ft. Sill some kid killed himself, damn there was a lot of crime scene guys.


 I should be done around August, September or October so then I’m going to do this thing called Hometown Recruiting which will be done in Sterling for 2 weeks.  It doesn’t count as my vacation days, but after that I report to my first duty station which I hope is in Germany, then you have to come out and visit especially for Oktoberfest or when you graduate.  Miss you a lot, and tell everyone hi for me and as soon as I get a return address I’ll write or call to tell you.  Good luck with your finals so you can graduate next semester, or I’ll end up graduating before you.  J/J Miss you and love you with all my heart.


Love, Zachary M. Brown


PS Tell Aunt Valerie “Bingo has been called.”




Hey what’s up here’s my checks for my phone bill, if you don’t mind paying them for me.  I’ll give you a call or write as soon as I can, I love you have fun this summer and stay safe.


Love, Zachary M. Brown





13 MAY 08


What’s going on little sister?  

How you doing?  It’s going good here except you never answered my phone call before I left on Friday for training.  GO figure I finally get a phone and I don’t even get to use it for 3 months.  Hope the rest of your finals go great you’re done in just six days, I only have 100 days left.  Oh pass on my address I finally got it, its

PVT Brown, Zachary M

F CO 2ND BN 54Th INF REGT

1st Platoon, RN #123

8775 Albanese Dr.

Ft. Benning, GA 31905


What else is going on?  How’s kickball going, oh hey I graduate 25 AUG 08 and I was talking to Steve and he said were going to Vegas, you should save up and come with us, it’ll be fun.  Oh I don’t get any passes for the weekends, sucks a big fat dick, oh well.  I’m 11C which is infantry with a specialty in mortars, our mortar pack and gear weighs upwards of 180-190 lbs., fuck marching along with that.  


Well I don’t have much time, but you’ll have to write me back and tell me what’s going on, pass it on to the rest of the family, I only have time to write one letter and I wanted to write you.  Love you and good luck with your last finals.


Love, Zachary M. Brown




29 MAY 08


What’s up lil sis?  


How’s your summer going, lucky bastard.  How was Atlanta and Ethan’s graduation, did you and Bryan go (did you take Vegas?) haha that would be funny to see your dog jumping all around the car.  Things are going great here, except it’s so fucking hot and humid.  Couple of crazy incidents though.  Last Sunday 19 MAY a kid was murdered next door to us.  He was sleeping and a kid who was getting kicked out stabbed him 36 times with a butter knife and no one woke up.  That’s pretty fucked up, huh?


 I ran my best 2 mile run today, though I ran a 14:01 (not too shabby for a frat boy).  Since I last wrote you another 2 kids in our platoon were kicked out (fucking scumbags).  Let’s see what else is going on, we did land Navigation, PT every morning at 0430, first aid, rifle marksmanship, IED/UXD training (Improvised Explosive Devices and Unexploded Ordinances), we had to insert an IV and saline lock on one another today (luckily I had a paramedic as my battle buddy and when I stuck him I got it in the first time).  


How is drinking kickball going?  Hey I don’t have my orders yet, but they said about 75% of us are probably going to be stationed at Ft. Drum, NY.  Well you got to write me back, I’m the only one in our platoon that hasn’t received a letter yet.  9Theyre making fun of me HAHA).


Love you, Zachary M. brown

PS Tell everybody what’s up and I love you, talk to you later.  ONLY 84 DAYS LEFT!!!!



8 June 08


What are you doing, you ignoring me here I’m bored?  

Write me back. 


 How are things going, anything interesting?  How are the orioles & Rockies doing, along with the NBA Finals and any news that interesting?  What did you end up for grades, pretty good?  It is so fucking hot and humid down here (the past 10 days have been over 100*F and were wearing all our equipment.  Right now this last week and upcoming week we are qualifying on out M16A4’s along with the mark 19 Machine gun, and I believe the 50 caliber machine gun.  


Only 75 days left, fuck it is taking forever.  There are some pretty cool guys here and some real fucking douche bags.  I can’t wait for our 36 hour break, a couple of us are getting hotel rooms and beer and just watching TV the whole time.  O did I tell you the story about the kid getting murdered next to us, pretty fucked up huh?  


It’s so hot too, at least 2 people a day are going to the hospital w/heat strokes that would suck.  (They take that shit pretty serious).  How was Ethan’s graduation, who was all there?  Oh yeah did you receive my checks to pay my cell phone bill?  You should write me back, it is pretty embarrassing as one of the only letters I got was from one of my buddies here that told his girlfriend to write me, and Aunt Valerie.

 Have a good day.


Love you, Zachary M. Brown


PS Tell everyone hi for me




13 June 08 (Friday)


Jessica Lauren Brown,


How’s it going lil sister?  I’m glad I finally received a letter from you (HAHA).  


You should write more often, it’s seriously getting bad, I get made fun of for not getting any mail (LOL).  Why aren’t you going to graduate in December, I could have made that, but if you don’t graduate until Spring I’ll be in Iraq or Afghanistan?  


I only have 70 days left until I graduate and then my 10 days off before I have to report to my permanent duty station.  Have you seen Jenna Bush at your bar and if you do, get a picture w/ her (even though you’re a liberal).  So how else is your summer going?  I qualified as a sharpshooter.  I got fucked b/c my first 2 targets didn’t pop up and I scored a 35 and 36 is expert, and they told me pretty much tough shit.


 Oh well we also qualified on the M203 grenade launcher and the AT4 (anti-tank rocket) which are fucking kick ass.  We get a day off kind of tomorrow, we’re all going to a baseball game in Columbus (Single A, Columbus Catfish).  


How was Ocean City?  You should send me some pics of something, Julz sent me a prom pic (she looks beautiful).  How is sports going?  (Orioles, Rockies, any other news, something about Hulk Hogan’s son).  Did you receive my checks to pay my cell phone bill and if you need some money, I’m getting paid and I can’t use it.  


Oh yeah, when I get out you need to sign some papers, I put you as my only beneficiary on my military life insurance.  Right now, the finance lady said even though I put you as the sole beneficiary, Mom could get it.  Which is complete fucking bullshit.  It will only be a couple pages and if I get hurt or whatever in Iraq/Afghanistan you get $400,000 so when I get out I’ll send you those.


 Talk to you soon.


Love you with all my heart, your brother, ZMB


PS Tell Kelley I said “what’s up”




29 June 08


What’s up lil sis?  How are things going?


I thought it was hot last month but fuck it’s getting worse.  I now officially hate the fucking South.  The other day after our 10 mile ruck march our drill sergeant passed out as soon as he walked in the doors and the medics had to give him an IV.  Let’s see what else we are doing.


Done qualifying w/ the M240 Bravo, M249 SAW, AT-4 (anti-tank weapon), Claymore mines, Mark 19, automatic grenade launcher, and the .50 caliber.  Now were doing advanced marksmanship like live buddy team fires and live fire team fires.  Only 12 days left until our 36 hour break, Uncle Roger was saying he’s coming down and were going back to his place.  


I should find out my duty station here in the next 2-3 weeks, that would be sweet if it is Hawaii, then you can come out during the winter and stay.  What were you saying that you might come out for graduation then we could stay here or the Atlanta area for a couple days?  How is the Temby’s doing, did Tim graduate?  


How is everyone else?  Oh did you get my cheques and pay my cell phone bill?  I did my best ever in our PT test w/ 78 sit ups in 2 minutes, shit I didn’t know fat boys could do that.  LOL.  Damn I need a beer bad I can just taste it.  Last night for the 4th of July Celebration on main post, they had a concert and you will never guess who the feature attraction was, you know the 70’s band caked the Commodores?  It was pretty cool then they had fireworks and shit.  Damn it’s getting really hard to write in the dark now, Ill talk to you laters.  Tell everyone hi for me.


Love you, ZMB


PS There’s a kid in here that I hang out with that is from Towson and he recognizes you from Batemans in one of my pictures of you.  Ain’t that fucking strange?  Now I can’t even see where I’m writing, gotta go. Peace




14 July 08


What’s going on sis?


First day back after our little break and they woke us up for the day at 0245 AM for a piss test which we waited in formation until 0700 then we trained all day doing convoy live fire (firing out of a device).  Our 31-hour break was pretty sweet.  


Uncle Roger picked me up then we ate at Varsity (chilly dogs and burgers) went back to his place and went to an elongated happy hour, went swimming, then passed the fuck out.  Next day I made some breakfast for the 2 of us went to see Indiana Jones then headed back to fucking hot, sticky Columbus.  Hope you get to come down for graduation, because that might be the last time I get to see you for over a year.  As I told you, I’m stationed in Hawaii as part of the 25th Infantry Division and we deploy this November to Afghanistan.  Pretty fucking dope huh?  I’m super excited to roam those mountains killing those mother fuckers that did that to us.  Our drill sergeants (well 2 of mine) are part of the same brigade and they’re trying to get me in their old unit.  They said to expect to get shot at and/or shoot someone w/in the first week in the country (Yeah!!)  


I got your letters/postcards from Boston today you better bring those pics down when you come down.  It was a lot of fun hanging with good ole Unkie Roger, he told me you are pretty worried about the whole situation, is that true (don’t worry about it when I come back well hit up the Canton Square and have a blast ☺  Funny story 2 soldiers I know in 2nd platoon got arrested over break because a prostitute came to their room stole $500 and left, they got in a fight w/ her (they’re fucked). 


 How is everything going?  Any interesting stories?  Well, I hope to hear from you soon, take care and I love you, you are my best friend in the entire world, and Ill take good care of myself.


Love (Your only bro and the better-looking Brown)), ZMB


PS Only 38 days left until Aug 21 or 22

PSS Can you please call LeAnn Dennington and give her the info for graduation she wants to come



Discussion Questions:

  1. What advice would you give your 22-year-old self?

  2. What are you doing now that a past version of yourself would be so proud of?

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