When I got a slot for Army Ranger School, I was pretty excited to go. Keep in mind: I was a 19-year-old Marine that was in the best shape of my life. I really thought that everyone in the Army went to Ranger School, so I just figured it’d be some good training, and that was that. I was a bit wrong.

Recon Battalion is tasked with pre-raid reconnaissance in support of Marine Infantry Battalions, so going to a raid school made sense. I didn’t train in preparation, but instead, put on about 5 pounds of fat -a lot of McD’s and Pizza. At the time I went, Recon Bn didn’t have slots to Airborne School, so the only way to get your wings was to first go to Ranger.

So, I had to make it straight through with no recycles in order to head over to jump. I checked in, and I will say the first week was a complete blur. I didn’t really remember much until I saw the “Surviving the Cut: Ranger School” episode, which refreshed my lack of memory. The one thing I do remember is that I got to wear my nice toasty warm Danner boots since the Marine Corps had just started issuing them; bonus for me.

Once the course was in full swing, I got used to a few things reserved for the Marine students. First off, regardless of what rank you are, you are referred to as “Gunny.” The RI’s (Ranger instructors) told me that they just thought it was a really cool-sounding rank. The other name they were quite fond of was “Square Hat”, obviously a reference to the Marine Corps cover.