October 12, 2016

BMT Graduation: Day One // Coin Ceremony & Base Liberty

This post has been sitting in my draft folder since the night we arrived in San Antonio. I knew before we even left I wanted to write a guide on each day at BMT Graduation. It can be a little nerve wracking going to the graduation. There's so many rules, different atmosphere, and the overall anxiety of seeing your Airman after what feels like FOREVER! So I thought I'd share my experience there, so you have a bit of an idea on what to expect.
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It was just Caleb's mom, Charlotte, and I who were able to make it. We were awake by 5:30 am; way too excited to sleep! We wanted to get on base around 6:45 to 7:00. Thankfully our hotel was only 5 minutes away so it wasn't too hard to get to base. When you get to the gate you'll hand them your visitor's pass(your airman would've mailed these to you) and your ID. Once you're through the real fun begins!
When we finally arrived at the reception center I think this was really when it all started to set in. My heart was beating so fast and we were still an hour away from seeing him! I think it was just seeing all the squadron buildings and airman around. I just kept thinking, "Is this where he did classes? Is this where his dorms are? I wonder where he's at right now?"  I'm gonna be honest though...we skipped the orientation they held in the morning. I know everyone says it's mandatory, but Caleb's mom had already went to it 1 1/2 years ago with Caleb's sister so we decided it wasn't worth going to again. Now I don't think I would suggest this for everyone. Since we didn't go we had no idea what his heritage flight was, which would've been very helpful in knowing where he'd be standing come later in the day. Really though, that was all we missed. Everything else was perfect.
Since we didn't go to the orientation though, we were able to get a really good spot right next to where they do the Airman's Run! This was the moment I had waited 9 1/2 weeks for. My stomach was filled with 1000 butterflies! They run around twice; the first time we missed him. On the second lap though, we caught a quick glimpse of him. I would suggest videotaping this part rather than try and take pictures. This way we could go back and screenshot the 1 second we got of him. 
He's in the very very back left in the gray with glasses! I about died when I saw his face. The worst  part though was seeing him run by and then just run off again. I wanted to run after him and be like "no, come back!!" 

In between the Airman's Run and the Coin Ceremony is a really long wait. There's a gift shop in the reception center which will help to keep you busy. They have t-shirts for each squadron, family member themed shirts, and other cute lick knick-knacks. The prices are pretty reasonable too. I got a shirt with a pin & lanyard for only $22. 
Okay so here is where the orientation is helpful to attend. This is what the reception center is like with all the airman ready for the coin ceremony. This stadium is HUGE which rows and rows of bleachers. The airman are separated into heritage flights. During the meeting they tell you which flight your airman is in as well as where the flight will be standing. Since we skipped it, we took a chance and just decided to sit on the side where we wouldn't be blinded by the sun. This was a total blessing though because guess where Caleb ended up standing? Yup! He was the very first flight right in front of us! I couldn't believe it!
Also a huge thank you to Caleb's mama and her super amazing camera! As a result she was able to take HD pics like this one. Trust me, you'll need a camera with a decent zoom if you want to see anything. It's pretty far away and we were in one of the first few rows. For real though, seeing him standing there looking all cute and  military-like. I was smiling ear to ear! 
The whole coin ceremony took an hour and a half I think. I honestly can't remember, but there's a schedule online that will tell you for sure. It's a lot of speeches, national anthem is played, recognition for the honor flights, and then handing coins to each airman. There are multiple videos of it on YouTube if you want to know exactly what's in store.
The very last speech felt like it took forever though! They'd say "I know you all are excited to see your Airman", then continue to talk for another 10 minutes. Later Caleb and I both agreed we were at the point of "Come on let us go! I wanna see my baby!" Finally though we were able to go get him(aka tapping out). The moment he saw me heading towards him was such an amazing moment! We both just bursted into the biggest smile and hugged each other so tight. I never wanted to let go!
The rest of Thursday is base liberty. Your airman will be briefed on what they can and cannot do during base liberty. Websites like AF Wingmoms has lots of helpful information on this too! 
  As soon as he was tapped out we were able to go off and explore the base. Now that may be different for other airman though. Many might have errands they need to run before they're free to go. This is one of their first times exploring base too, so don't be surprised when they know where nothing is. Thankfully all of Caleb's errands we could do together. There's not much to do other than a mini-mall, movie theater, bowling, and a park. Which was really perfectly fine. I was way too excited to care either way. All we really wanted to do was talk before he had to go back to his dorm at 2000(8:00 pm...get use to the military jargon. That was one of the first things I noticed; the change in language and the way he walked).
Dropping him back off at curfew sucked, and only got harder each day, but knowing I'd get to see him tomorrow made leaving on Thursday a little bit better.

Day 1 down. 3 more to go.
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I have two more posts coming soon. Friday's events and then Saturday and Sunday. Look for those soon! If you have any questions about graduation week or just the Air Force in general let me know! I'd be happy to help in the best way I can! 


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