Thursday, April 3, 2008

Graduation (Friday)

Up early yet again. Today it was to get to the base in time for the busses to shuttle whole families to the Parade Grounds where BMT Graduation takes place.

Breakfast again is very crowded with other parents and families just like us. It's fun to be together, see faces that feel familiar and develop a sense of comaraderie with them. On this journey for me, it's felt that was since we got on our last flight (there were three of them) on our way to San Antonio. That was the first flight on which I knew there were other AF parents coming in for Graduation. Major AF "bling"... it's a dead giveaway! ;)

The busses picked us up from the same drill pad we were on for the Coin Ceremony, right behind the BMT Reception Center and we were off. I have a thing about being early and not struggling to get the seat I want. Just making sure i have my bearings, yanno? So we were in the Parade Grounds stands and adjusting our seating for the best view of Avivah's squadron while the final rehearsal was happening!

The smallest person in this pic (furthest left) is V's now infamous MTI: Sgt. DeLeone-Acosta (DLA). The other two are their dorm chief, Cole, and her Gaidon (flag person) whose name I'll have to ask again.

Here in reverse order they practice leading the squadron in the presentation for the dignitaries, honored guests, parents and families for final review. DLA is a teeny tiny fierce woman (4'9" maybe?).

Slowly but surely all the squadrons march across the Truemper Street bridge and onto the parade grounds in full dress blues. I have chills still!The actual Graduation begins with the entrance of ALL the TIs. It's an impressive sight.

It drove me crazy that even with the field glasses we brought I couldn't see V! I tried, squinted, searched and fretted. I asked Joshua to look... maybe younger eyes would be better? Nope.

It wasn't until near the end of the ceremony, the pass and review, that we found her. Gotta hate height order when your kid is 5' 1". There she was just as strong and proud as can be, the last person next to her dorm chief, Cole, the blonde. We just about went nuts we were soooo excited for her!

Once again they marched around and seem soooo far away.

But then it happened... they came closer. Not close enough to see my girl in the back, but now I knew for proof-positive that she was in there. As they took their final Oath of service I don't think there was a dry eye to be seen in the stands. The warrior response just shook me it was so loud.

They allow the band members to exit and the dignitaries and the honored guests leave and everyone comes out of the stands to find their now fully-graduated Airman who must stay in place. Fortunately most of them had at least one family member there for them. I don't know how hard it would have been to see one standing alone. If there were others without family then they'd been "adopted" already.

THIS is what she looked like (we moved out of the mob to take this pic):
You know I'll be back again with more... stay tuned!


Anonymous said...

Lea - thanks for the blog. I have a quick few questions: Why didn't V have an AF patch on her sleeve in the shot that had her and Cole in it? And what is the symbolism, poignancy of the AF Coin?

I'm happy for you and the family and for V. Such a wonderful life ahead of her.

Lea said...

V doesn't have a new rank yet, she's an AB (Airman Basic). However, at the end of her Tech School she will graduate and jump a rank to A1c (Airman 1st Class).

The coin signifies her move from Trainee to Airman.

Thanks Anon. Good Qs.

Debbie in NC said...

Lea, you did a fantastic job of posting all the details and pics! I felt like I was right there with you :)

Go Avivah!!

Tonjia said...

OMG Ssgt DLA was the TI for a friend of mines daughter last summer! She HATED her and then she cried like a baby when she had to leave her. LOL I guess she is one heck of an MTI.

Great pics and wonderful look into the graduation experience. thanks Lea!