THE BASIC RECONNAISSANCE COURSE generally consists of four phases: Land Nav., Amphib., Recon Skills, and Patrolling. Depending on the class, these can appear in just about any order. My class, 1-05, had Patrolling as the final phase. While all four phases can be plenty brutal in their own right, Patrol takes it to a level most students haven’t experienced before.
For eight days, students move around Camp Pendleton equipped with the equivalent of an R&S ruck— weighing-in around 75-90 lbs—performing just about every basic reconnaissance mission while every student cycles through each patrol billet. There are plenty of hills climbed, hills fallen off of, brush broken, and cacti shin-checked. (Oh, and if you’re lucky you might get 2 hours of sleep per day.)
By the time we inserted late Monday night, we’d already been up all day doing mission prep. It wasn’t until the second night that the fun really started. Now, I’m going to be honest: the timeline gets a little blurry from here on out.
We were just getting up from a security halt on the way to the objective, and the guy in front of me wasn’t moving. I moved up to make sure he hadn’t passed out, and saw him staring quizzically at a rock about twenty feet away. I got his attention, and he whispered, “I just saw Snoopy over there, then he turned into a chocolate ice-cream cone.”