The image everyone probably has of the army waking up in the morning is what you see in the movies.

Drill Sergeant flips on the lights to an open barracks of bunk bears. He marches down the middle, banging an aluminum trash and scream for the soldiers to wake up. Maybe upending a soldier’s mattress and dumping him on the floor.

That’s basic training and the job training that follows.

Though I was in a women’s class, and we just had the lights and screaming. No trashcans. Can’t speak for what the guys had.

But it’s different for the regular army.

We had to be out for physical training formation ten minutes prior to 6:30 a.m., dressed in the proper uniform for designated time of the year. Right now, at Fort Lewis, we’d be in shorts and t-shirts and probably would still be freezing.

The time that we actually woke up was not important as long as we could be out there by the ten minutes prior. Usually there would be one who would get up at like 5:30. First, I’d hear the alarm going off down the hall, behind a closed door. Then a door slamming. Muted light coming from the crack under my door, from what was coming out of the bathroom down the hall. No one turned on the hall light yet.

Then at 6:00, that was when the rest of the alarms went off. The hallway light came on. Lots of banging of doors. Grumbling, too.

At the time, the women didn’t have to put up their hair for physical training. I just put mine in a ponytail and done. The African-American women usually tried to hide the night’s hair because their hair texture required more time than they had before formation.

They hated when we went to shorts. No more watch cap to hide the hair!

Then we stumbled outside and tried to look awake.