Tag Archives: Navy boot camp graduation

Navy Graduation Redux

We are old hands at Navy boot camp graduation (technically called Pass In Review) so we knew to get there at the crack of early. When our older son graduated there were eight Divisions, but with this one, there were twelve so we knew it would be even more crowded.

So much was different this time, though. The traffic, for one thing. Even though it was only 6 a.m. and the ceremony didn’t start till 9, we got stuck in traffic for 30 minutes. But when we got in there was nobody checking our parking pass or our IDs, no police dogs sniffing our car, no scary M16s pointed at us.

In the building I was pulled aside for a random search. Did I look dangerous? Were they just trying to get me to stop with the Happy Dance already? Were they worried that all my giddiness would ooze out my pores and make dangerous puddles that people would slip in? Dunno.

I’ve written about the actual ceremony before and here’s a video of it. Not ours, but you get the idea. Within the first minute the garage door – you know, the one I talk about all the time – goes up, in case you’ve been wondering what that’s like. (Fair warning … I mute this one because I can’t stand this song.)


Lots of tears, lots of excitement and pride … especially when they welcomed “1,098 of the newest and sharpest sailors in the US Navy!”

When they gave the liberty call, all hell broke loose in the ceremony hall, and I’m constantly amazed how quickly everyone finds their sailor. They do, after all, look exactly the same! Our son found us and said he saw us as soon as he marched in. Too funny.

I saw him when he marched in and I kinda wished I hadn’t. It made me very nervous to know which one he was waaaaay in the back while so many sailors were wobbly and going down. Every time his head moved (since that was all I could see of him) my stomach lurched. Of course everything was fine, but can we all agree it was fine specifically because I worried about it? Thank you.

We had him from after graduation until about 7 p.m. It started raining lightly so he was required to wear his raincoat. You can’t just put ON a Navy raincoat. You must become one with the coat, buttoning every button. But because he hoofed it from the barracks back to where we waited, he was hot, so he unbuttoned in the car. We only drove a few miles to get lunch but to walk from the parking lot into the restaurant required him to re-button, walk ten steps, then undo it all again.

It made me laugh. It was also fun for this mom to see him worrying about spilling food on his dress whites. Glad I’m not the only worried one now.

As we drove off base, he marveled. “I’m moving forward without walking with 80 guys! Wow … I’d forgotten what that was like!” He hadn’t been in any kind of vehicle for over two months.

We hung out in the hotel all afternoon, catching up, letting him play with his electronics we brought from home, and he quite enjoyed the very long shower he took all by himself. I hear there’s nothing quite so spectacular as that first shower you don’t have to share with 80 other guys.

While at the hotel he made a call back to base to clarify the time he had to be back. It was fascinating to hear him say, “Yes, Master Chief … thank you, Master Chief.”

What happened to my boy??

We went out to dinner where he continued to regale us with boot camp stories. Often he’d stop mid-sentence, though, so I knew a waitress had walked by. “Sight for sore eyes,” he’d say.

Ah, there’s my boy!

He had to muster at 1:30 a.m. for a 2:00 a.m. bus to the airport for his 5:30 p. m. flight. (Yes, p.m.) And, of course, they went from Chicago to Texas via Atlanta.

We knew we could hand off his backpack of electronics and civilian skivvies at the airport so we met him there around 9 a.m. after a rollicking trip through the heart of Bad Driver Land. (Not to worry, you’ll hear more about that!) The nice people at the airline gave us a gate pass so we hung out with him until mid-afternoon when he started to get antsy.

I knew it was time to say goodbye.

It’s always hard to send your kids off someplace unfamiliar, but he was so excited and not at all nervous so I didn’t even cry.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

What Happened In Chicago

Today is sandwiched between Veterans Day and the day my second sailor leaves for Guam so I thought it was a perfect time to post about our trip to Chicago for his boot camp graduation. And to learn firsthand about bad drivers.

I keep a journal when I travel. Not so much to remember everything, but to have surprise blog posts.

Surprise! Found my journal!

Our trip to Chicago was for my son’s graduation from Navy boot camp. For those long-timers in BeckyLand, you’ll remember I’ve posted about this before. *

Now I have two sailors. Two graduations. Two memorable trips.

This trip, however, we knew our son would be leaving for San Antonio, Texas soon after graduation so we decided to stay for a few extra days and play tourist. (Those mothers who get a higher place in heaven I spoke of in the other blog? Now I’m one of them.)

My first note from the day I went to Chicago reads, “Terminal security doesn’t sound good.”

Going through security at 4:30 a.m. is a very different experience than going through at 4:30 p.m. Or at any other time, I bet.

The TSA guy mocked me. He let me go to a conveyor belt line that wasn’t running, get my shoes off, load up my plastic bin and look perplexed before saying, “You might want to go to a line that’s open.”

Well, I might, but then how much would he enjoy his job? Not nearly as much, methinks.

Then he treated me like I’d never been to an airport before. “The conveyor belt moves intermittently …. just wait …. walk through like this” whereupon he made me twirl, twirl like a dancing leaf. Okay. I made that part up. But he could have. Such is the power of a TSA agent before the airport opens.

The airport at 4 a.m. is a delightful place. The coffee is freshly brewed, the people are few and far between and the ones you see make you want to learn their stories.

Like the guy in the sleeping bag with his bike parked next to him. Homeless? Tolerated by the airport folks because he’s a local hero/character/someone’s dad? Getting ready to race the plane down the runway?

I’ll never know because I was too polite to wake him up and ask.

It’s also a great time to fly if you’re misogynistic. There were only 14 people on our flight. The gate agent started to announce the rows to board then laughed, waved his arm and said, “C’mon! Everybody on!”

We all got a window AND an aisle seat.

Do you keep a journal when you travel? Do you ever go back and read it? Care to share anything?

*In re-reading the previous post, I now know that the guards are not called MPs … I know they are MAs because I have one now. And yes, I got all weepy when that garage door rose. another interesting tidbit about that post … about 100 people have read it every week since I posted it. It’s almost as popular as my broken toe blog.