My 8 months spent in army!
Raiko Puust
Estonia
Keila
Harju Maakond
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In Estonia every male in ages 18-28 must go to army to serve time. Here is my short story about that time there.
Hope you enjoy it.
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1. Board Game: In the Beginning [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Raiko Puust
Estonia
Keila
Harju Maakond
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Raiko & Agnes Forever! Feel the Love and Feel the Warmth. Happiness is 2 hugs plus 3 kisses every hour...:D (http://mrboardgames.wordpress.com/)
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The Beginning

In Estonia we have a law that sais: every Estonian male in age between 18 to 28 must go through army service.
I was 17 when I first received my invitation to the medical examination. This is always very hard and scary time for a young boy. Every guy who has done the service knows exactly what I mean by that.
The first medical examination was all the regulars: height, weight, blood, urine, x-ray, questionnaires and interview with the psychiatrist. After you have passed all of these then you need to speak with the head medical examiner, who then tell you - go or no go. It is no go when you didn't pass at least one of the tests. It is no go when you are still in school or you have a baby coming/under 2 years. These are the main criteria for postponing or not going.
As you can imagine, every guy tries everything they can not to go, because the conditions in army are like being in prison.
I went there, I was honest, passed all the tests and since I was in high school, they gave me two more years.
After two years I got another invitation. They do not send invitation if you are in college and apply for extension. The time is 15 days into the September, after that Estonia can take you in any time they want, telling you only 2 days before. I didn't made that request and they asked me to go again into the medical examination. This time I passed as before and since I was honest and healthy and smart, they just asked me, where I want to serve my time and for how long. The time you can choose is 8 or 11 months. I chose 8 months and as near as home as possible. I was signed to Communication Battalion in Tallinn, in our capital and since i lived near there, I liked that. The only catch was that they had the date for enlisting 29th. September 2009, three years after I was there.
So I had my life to live 3 years, knowing where I will be in 3 years. The time went fast. By the time I was working and I had met Agnes (user LilyGirl). She was very mad, that I hadn't done my service before I met her, because the usual rule here in Estonia is, that if you have a girlfriend when you go in, you do not have one, when you come out. So I was worried about that, but we made it. I think we made it because she lives 200 miles away on an island, so we saw very little before that.
Two weeks before I stopped my contract and just rested. Law tells that what ever you do or wherever you are, you will have that work after the service. Guaranteed.
And then the scary date arrived. Night before we said goodbyes with Agnes and next day, on 29th. my sister took me to the drafting place and I sat on the bus. This was very very scary moment.
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2. Board Game: Three Days of Gettysburg (third edition) [Average Rating:7.47 Overall Rank:3672]
Raiko Puust
Estonia
Keila
Harju Maakond
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The First Three Days

Me and 200 other guys were dropped off the bus and the moment we stepped off, 12 guys started yelling and kicking us. They gave us 2 minutes to lay all our stuff on the asphalt. They we had to unrobe (naked) and stand in line to go through the medical check. Very ugly women made the examinations. I stood in the cold for 4 hours. And with 200 other naked guys. From that moment til the end I heard a millions gay jokes.

Then they made us go from one place to another. We ran like never before. The first day there we were placed into a small room where I slept on the floor with 40 other guys. I slept on my stuff.
The second day they gave me and all the others our uniforms and some gear as well. Then some guy pointed a finger to me and said: "You are now hairdresser!".

And I cut 200 heads that day. I saw 3 guys crying when I took their long and beautiful hear. I had never seen so many bald guys before. It wasn't problem for me, since I have been with short hair most of my life. The rest of the time was doing the first push-ups, marching and teaching the main things in army. And a lot of yelling and punishing. A lot.
The third day started 4:55 am, with pulling us out of our beds into the rain, in our underwear. We ran and tried to sing after the first guy. Made push-ups, and all other physical training. We were cold and hungry, angry and scared. All the muscles hurt and I missed home and Agnes, but for 3 months we couldn't see no one.
I learned the consequences of the morning checking and if you don't have correctly shaved beard, nails cur, hair short, washed and perfect uniform. Any miss in any one of those things would mean running and running and cleaning. During the third day, they suddenly told us, that we (100 guys, and I was one) are going somewhere else. We didn't know where or why, but like all things in army, they gave us 5 minutes to be on the bus. And I left Tallinn to some unknowing place...
I missed Agnes a lot.
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3. Board Game: New World [Average Rating:6.03 Overall Rank:5606]
Raiko Puust
Estonia
Keila
Harju Maakond
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The NEW place

While I was sitting there, in the bus, behind the bus driver, near the window, I met Marko. Who might have actually read some of my sessions, like Twilight Struggle, should know about him. By that time I had met only a few other people there, but Marko was the first friendly and smart one. While on the way to the new place, we became friends. I liked him from the beginning. While we were driving, I saw that we were going towards my home. Then I realized where we were going. Near my home there is a Peace Operations Center, where all the professional train for the missions (Iraq, Afghanistan etc.). I didn't knew that they took regular time serving soldiers. And they didn't, but they made a request to get the best new soldiers and after three days, we were sent.
The good thing was that the new place was closer to home than the last place. I went to high school next to that big military base. While we got there, we saw so many machines and soldiers. Some of them were running, some doing some other exercises, we didn't understand at that time.
The life there were so much different, because now we were trained by the soldiers who have actually been in a war. But what made the things harder for me, was the fact that I saw my home from the window. So near and so far. The first day there went by quite easy. We got all our gear (there were a lot of it) and we were assigned into the rooms. The barracks were I was signed didn't have any warm water or heat.
The beds in the rooms were two-floored (two beds on top of each other) and the closets were very small, with one big shelf on the left, 5 small on the right and one big at the lower part. The room size was about 5 times 7 meters. All we had was one small table and six stools, one for each bed.
Then I met my new roommates for the rookie time. In Estonian we call that time SBK (Sõduri Baaskursus - Soldier Basic Course (SBC)). My roommates for the first 3 months (SBK time) were Martti, Vaido, Mihkel, Rene and Toomas.
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4. Board Game: Neighbors [Average Rating:1.84 Unranked]
Raiko Puust
Estonia
Keila
Harju Maakond
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My Roommates

Martti - Martti is a cook. He is forever crazy and fun. If you watched him alone you would laugh. He would make faces, play with pencils, rocks, guns, whatever he could get. He was very energetic and that got him in trouble so many times. He was punished so many times that I lost count. And he got me into trouble also and all the others couple of times as well. But he is my friends and I spent my 8 months with him in the same room, so we are great frinds, although he might be little crazy.

Vaido - He was my bunk buddy. And we were like best friends. He is so funny. He made me laugh so many times. he had a special talent for like body comedy, the moves he made to enlighten the stories. That was so great. And he had iPhone as well, so the Internet into the world. I used that phone so many times to visit BGG. And he was the first one who asked me about BGG and about my board games. He played the first game with me as well...

Vaido on the left, Martti is the right one!

Mihkel - He is very sad little guy and I took him under my wing. He was a mystery to all of us. I protected him from others. He had so many problems - mentaly and physically. I were able to keep him safe and later he was like a glass man that no one would touch. But he had still the problems (that I will not talk about) and on the sixth week, he was sent away.

Rene - His last name was Fox. And this was the nickname he got himself. He was very small, but large. What I mean, he was short, but wide. And he had very long hair when he came (and I cut), so he didn't like me at first, but later he changed his mind. He also had some fancy mobile we used for internet. His speciality was beat-boxing. We loved listening him doing his beat-boxing. His biggest problem was always getting on that upper bunk. We laughed a lot while he was climing. He was sent away 2 months into the service due to his healt problems (too high physical trining).

Toomas - he had the funniest last name. His last name was Blow (almost). Like full of air. He was the one the rest of us in our room didn't like. He were trying to get home pretending to be mental. This was annoying. He made himself 4 buddies like him, who made a group. They made silly things, they sang, they thought up so many songs (very good ones actually). We called that group The Saints. The reason for that - will not tell. And to mention - they were succesful in the end. We lost all Saints...
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5. Board Game: Sixteen Soldiers [Average Rating:5.10 Unranked]
Raiko Puust
Estonia
Keila
Harju Maakond
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The Basic Soldier Course

This course lasts 3 months. And it is said that it it the hardest time. And, now after all that thing is behind me, I can say, that it really was the hardest time in army. We didn't get to sleep, although we were supposed to be sleeping 22:00 and wake up 6:00, but every time some superior walked around at night and saw a little dust somewhere or the toilet had smell and wasn't shining, then we were all woken up in the middle of the night. At first we all made some push-up and then we were on the push up position, but did no push up. You had to keep your body straight or else...well, you got to train a little more. We had so many nights when we just cleaned the whole building over and over again.
This was the time when I got to hold the gun for the first time. I cannot tell you which guns, (will go to jail if I do) but this was exiting. So many guns - big, small, heavy, light, you name it. And the first shots were quite frightening, but we did so many shooting exercises, that by the end of the SBK you knew your gun super well, and were able to shoot at running position to 200m. Best ones were able to do (and me) head shots from 600 without any optical. And took out all moving targets from 1400m, without flaw. Made some records as well, but we get to that little later.
The main idea for us was to develop routine. We went running every morning 6:02. 2 minutes from the yelling up until you need to be in formation outside ready for running. Firsts weeks we got to practice that - 149 times in two days. I know, I counted.
Then the order was very clear - no speaking, no loud sounds and everything is always clean and placed correctly. If any random time superior stepped into your room and started checking then bed needed to be made perfect (15cm fold, not 14.9 or 15.1) and also your closet. No dust nowhere and so on. as you can imagine, it is quite possible that every person in your room have everything in order. And now we back at Martti. He always had everything messed up and therefore we got punished.
The punishing system was easy - you screw up, the rest will suffer. So if Martti had messed closet (and by that I mean he had 0.2mm folding mistake), he didn't even get a bad word, but the rest 5 in that room got punished and bad. This was their way of making sure that we all obey. And it worked. If someone made too much trouble and caused us problems, then the payback would be bad. And when someone went to tell on others, that he was beaten or something like that, he got jail time. No telling allowed. Not at all. So the inside punishing worked very well.


We had one guy there, who was an asshole in any way and one night he was taken from his bed, tuck taped his entires body inside the blanket, like a baby, taken to the cold shower, and then got a little beat down with soaps inside the socks. But if someone reads this and thinks that this is wrong, then I might tell ya, that this is science fiction...
Sadly there are so many things I cannot tell you about, top secret stuff.
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6. Board Game: What's the Matter?: Physical Science Game [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Raiko Puust
Estonia
Keila
Harju Maakond
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Raiko & Agnes Forever! Feel the Love and Feel the Warmth. Happiness is 2 hugs plus 3 kisses every hour...:D (http://mrboardgames.wordpress.com/)
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Physical

The very big and important part of army service is you physical. You need stamina most of all, so we ran a lot. All we did was run and run. We ran naked, we ran with 95 kilos on our backs, we ran in full gear (winter and summer). We ran in waist deep water, we ran in waist deep snow, we ran in mud. We ran everywhere. And also we slept everywhere as well.
We learned to sleep in every position and in every way. I slept in mud, on the tree, under the truck and so on.

The training was hard. I was in good shape before, but the standards there are so much higher. The push-up, sit-ups and so many other things were designed in a way to make us all fit. You were need to carry 50 pound weapon for 50 km ( and we did that) - half way running. By the end of the service I made so many things I thought I could never do in my life, but if you only train you can manage anything.
For measuring our physical condition they used a test called NATO test. It is used world-wide and the goal is to get 190 points to pass, while 300 is max (but you can do more, just won't score).
When we went, they made us all do that test. I can tell you that from 100 guys, only 6 passed the 190 mark, and one made 300 (athlete).
the test has three parts: push-up, sit-up and 2 mile (3.2km) running. For each you can score 100 points. Seems easy? Well, not exactly. For 300 points you need at least: 82 push up (2 min), 92 sit-ups (2 min) and run 2 miles in 11:20.
My first test when going in was 60 push ups, 30 sit-ups and 18:18 for the running time! 132 points total! Little sad. But the thing is, I was average, there were so many worse. Some made only 7 push up or ran with 25 minutes...
After the hard three months we all made the test again. This time my score was 238 points (115 push-ups, 55 sit-ups and 15:02 time). I passed the test and I felt great. I started liking running very much and I actually went to run by myself at night and so on. After the SBk time we were able to visit home at weekends as a reward for good behavior. So this was something everyone wished to get - city pass. I got out every time there was chance, because - well, I was perfect soldier like they told me there.
It was somewhat easy for me, except some physical stuff, but I managed them all and came out with great results.
The last test before getting out was the best one. I scored 300 points (120 push, 100 sit, 10:30 run). As you can see from the results, I was in a very good shape.
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7. Board Game: Law & Order [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Raiko Puust
Estonia
Keila
Harju Maakond
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Raiko & Agnes Forever! Feel the Love and Feel the Warmth. Happiness is 2 hugs plus 3 kisses every hour...:D (http://mrboardgames.wordpress.com/)
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Addicted Estonian gamer with big heart and direct winning attitude. Need any help with something, just ask. Need some GG for something, just ask. Need something to be translated, just ask. Meanwhile, behave! :D (http://mrboardgames.wordpress.com/)
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Discipline

This was very big part. Always everything super correct. You had to be clean - wash three times a day - with ice cold water. Shave your beard morning and night, brush your teeth, cut your hair and nails, wash all your clothes, shave the back of you neck and so on. Every morning we had check ups. They checked everything. Our beds and lockers as well. And as with everything, if they found one single bed made little wrong, we made bed all day. This was designed, so that we would help others do get the things right, so that we wouldn't get punished.
One way they "trained" our bed making skills was to yell - heavy grenade, then where ever you were, whatever you were doing, you had to jump down, hold your head and pull your or some other madrats on you. Then they yelled - BEDS, and you had 3 minutes to get the bed back. No one were able to make the bed in three minutes like you were supposed to do - except me. Slowly I got to be the guy to turn to and I slowly became a leader and I didn't have to wait long for to be promoted to corporal.

Playing cards weren't allowed at all nor gambling. We played once and got caught. What happened? Well, let me tell you. He yelled that room 211 (my room) out in 2 minutes in full winter gear and sleeping bag in your hand. While we were using our 2 minutes, he took some tape and made a start and finish line into the corridor (80 meters long). Then after we were ready, he asked us into the sleeping bags, he then zipped us into so only our noses and eyes were seen and taped us in like little worms. Others placed us at start line and the first one crawl to victory will not get punished. Well, I got second place that race, bloody nose as well and all the others got laugh and hard. I cannot post any videos here (they were made) because it would be in violation with our secrecy laws.

One other example of losing your gear. On forest training one guy lost his shooting classes. What happened? We ere all put into one line, with 5 meter between us (about 500 meter long line), we laying down on our bellies and started to crawl and look for the classes. We crawled 2 and a half days, sleeping in the same position, under the sky and little rain. And we found them eventually. I can tell you, that no one lost their stuff anymore.
We all had to look the same as well. If one lost a glove, then we all had wear only one glove. And to practice that they asked us all to take naked and then took something out of that pile and gave us 3 minutes to be all dressed the same. In 2 weeks we got it.
And one example for you all, that you would all see, what would happen when you don't clean your room. One day one of our superiors steps into the room next to us and finds a little dust. He makes the whole room run 10 miles. Then while they were running, he asked us to trash the room. To turn over all the lockers and bed through them around. Then we needed to collect all the trash from the entire building and throw that into the room everywhere. When they game back, they had 20 minutes to clean everything up. We helped of course.
And one another great example of practicing waking up. Since we all live in room, so the lieutenant didn't see us waking up he had a plan. the reason why he wanted to see was easy - we were too fast one morning to get outside and he thought some of us woke 2 minutes early (you cannot do that). So he made us all to take all our room interior into the parking lot outside (into the rain) and we made our room out there like they were inside the house. We went to sleep (glad I was the bottom bed) and then he yelled - wake up and timed us. We did that some time out there. That night we all slept in wet beds...
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8. Board Game: The Guinness Game of Records [Average Rating:4.09 Unranked]
Raiko Puust
Estonia
Keila
Harju Maakond
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Raiko & Agnes Forever! Feel the Love and Feel the Warmth. Happiness is 2 hugs plus 3 kisses every hour...:D (http://mrboardgames.wordpress.com/)
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Records

It seemed that the whole army thing suited me very well. While being there and learning I were able to make some records, and not just for the Estonian army, but to all armies (UK,USA,Russia). We had the best training. We had soldiers from all over the world there. Now little about the records.
I have had always some talent or so to make records or just to make things good, or better than I were supposed to.
My first record was to take gun apart and to put together. I broke the record with 7 different guns. So now I have 7 out 21. I had only 9 guns there.
Then shooting. This was something I was very good. US soldiers once asked, after watching me shoot: "Hei, boy...are you a human??".
I were able to shoot with every gun and with every weather. I has so many people filming me and taking pictures as I took head shots from 1000 meters, without any optical and made shots behind the mountain with heavy machine gun (1,5 km). I'm not kidding.

To regular targets I was able to shoot 20 shots into 3.5 cm radium in 12 seconds. It might not seems like a big thing, but i can tell you, it won't get any deadlier than this. Military made me so many offers to go pro, but I declined.
And I made SBK record with not losing a point in a single test. And some time records of solving some puzzles and so on. As you can imagine, I was quite popular and it wasn't a long time until I made board games popular as well.
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9. Board Game: Entertainment Tonight: The Trivia Game [Average Rating:4.59 Unranked]
Raiko Puust
Estonia
Keila
Harju Maakond
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Raiko & Agnes Forever! Feel the Love and Feel the Warmth. Happiness is 2 hugs plus 3 kisses every hour...:D (http://mrboardgames.wordpress.com/)
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Entertainment

Although the training and the hard discipline, we still had some free time (after SBK). We watched a lot of movies in the class (using projector). We had a library and a TV room. And we had a ping-pong table (in which I was unbeatable) and we had a gym. We had no board games.
Oh, we had a Internet class and pool table as well. We had all those things, but only very little time to actually use these things.
I played a lot of ping-pong when I was little and became quite good. I was unbeatable in our battalion, so I was sent to overall competition. I came fourth!
At the winter time, since I'm quite good skier, I was sent to overall competition. Since our pro skiers are also required by law to do the army service, then this was competition. I lost 12 minutes with 10km. Very sad...

After SBK time, I wanted to play board games. I started bringing board games into the barracks and they became quite popular. Then one day I started thinking, that I should make a geeklist about my plays in army and 100 last days, one game for each day. I have all the plays done and written down on my note book, but haven't gotten around to do that yet. You can find that geeklist on my geeklists or CLICK HERE.
Through the board games I made some new friends and new roommates as well. My new room mates after the SBK time were Henrik, Priit, Taavi, Ivan and Martti. They all are frequent in my sessions. And they all were now board gamer...
Besides guitar and books, we had no more entertainment.
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10. Board Game: The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Game [Average Rating:3.26 Overall Rank:15555]
Raiko Puust
Estonia
Keila
Harju Maakond
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Raiko & Agnes Forever! Feel the Love and Feel the Warmth. Happiness is 2 hugs plus 3 kisses every hour...:D (http://mrboardgames.wordpress.com/)
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Addicted Estonian gamer with big heart and direct winning attitude. Need any help with something, just ask. Need some GG for something, just ask. Need something to be translated, just ask. Meanwhile, behave! :D (http://mrboardgames.wordpress.com/)
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When Things Go wrong

While handling explosives and ammo, some thins are bound to happen. I cannot go into details, but there were some injuries and some shots were little wrong.
The very bad thing for us was Cold Camp. We had cold -35 C and with 16m/s wind, it was equal to -55 C. This is killer cold and so many of us were hospitalized after those four days. I almost lost my nose, one friend almost lost his fingers. Now not something for the faint of hart - two guys lost their testicles. There was this law suit, but again, no details here.

We had broken bones and bloody noses and such, well, boys are boys.
Some more serious things link falling down a stairs, getting hit by a grenade. What shocked me the most was the last and biggest training we had - 3 weeks in forest doing battle simulations. Then one day my friend (cannot say name), made food on those little things you burn with alcohol. He thought that the flame was out and started to pour some more, when the flame went into the bottle and it exploded, throwing the buring alcohol all over and to my other gaming friends face. He was on fire and ran around, using his hand to get the flames out. We all rammed him down and took the flames out in like 4-5 seconds. But he was burned and bad. He was taken to hospital.

Since his favorite game was Neuroshima Hex, I got him one and they allowed me to go to visit him in hospital. And so I did. It was aling ride from were we were to the hospital, so i had a army driver and one of my superiors with me. After the visit we were heading back and sadly the driver was little absent minded and hit a car infront of us - full speed. I hurt my both legs bad and was taken back to the same hospital that I just came. So thing happen, like they say. My legs still hurt, but I can walk now, not yet run though.
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11. Board Game: Never Ending Stories [Average Rating:4.85 Unranked]
Raiko Puust
Estonia
Keila
Harju Maakond
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designer
Raiko & Agnes Forever! Feel the Love and Feel the Warmth. Happiness is 2 hugs plus 3 kisses every hour...:D (http://mrboardgames.wordpress.com/)
badge
Addicted Estonian gamer with big heart and direct winning attitude. Need any help with something, just ask. Need some GG for something, just ask. Need something to be translated, just ask. Meanwhile, behave! :D (http://mrboardgames.wordpress.com/)
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The End

Sadly there are so many great stuff I cannot tell you about or use pictures here that show some things I cannot show. Hush hush stuff, you know.
After all that experience I have grown up. This all thing forces you to grow up. And I'm now very deadly and dangerous board game geek. I actually like that we have that law here in Estonia. This is something that every man needs to do, because after all that we have to endure, you are a real man. You come out scared, but strong in every way. People say that I'm more confident and more bold. Well, I have more muscle and speed now...strength too
I can say, that the feeling to shoot 30 rounds in second or blow up a car, or do ambushes that last three days, to stand on place 45 hours and all the running and constant self pushing and discovering new limits, it gives you a new life perspective. I don't want to be pro, but I'm happy that I did all that. I was selected as the best soldier after SBK and on 23rd February I got prompted to corporal and on now I'm sergeant.
Agnes and me are now very happy and we made the 8 months without breaking up, like most in there went.
Well, this is short version of my adventures in army, telling what I'm aloud to. Hope you enjoy it, if you even bother to read it!
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