Wednesday, April 2, 2008


We arrived on Wednesday evening in San Antonio, picked up our rental car (our economy car which masqueraded cleverly as a mini van all weekend *grin*) and grabbed a quick bite for dinner... without jackets on, picked up my mom from her flight and found the hotel. It was a dull evening because we needed to be up very early on Thursday. The only thing we did that night was to do the final tape-and-glue assembly of the sign for the Airman's Run. That alone was exciting!

Thursday morning our alarms all went off early in order for us to be washed and down for breakfast in the hotel - which was very crowded with other parents and families just like us. The excitement was building!

With water bottles and our 'run sign' loaded in the van, we made our way to the gates of Lackand AFB for the first time. Directions we given and we were on to the BMT Reception center under cloudy skies and temperate conditions which was good because the line to get in for the parents briefing was looooong and we had to stand outside!

As the line started moving towards the doors I realized that I never took a pic of the t-shirt we got Joshua... (Proud Air Force Brother) For as much as he hates his picture taken and tries to look disinterested, he looked great.

We took a seat in the hall (holds 2,000 people?!) for the Parents Briefing, which was loaded with info. AF Moms to be: I suggest taking a pen and paper. I would have done that if someone had told me, so there's my tip to you.

We were so focused on seeing our children for the first time in almost 7 weeks that it was hard to sit still and even harder to listen and retain info. All you want to do is dash out the doors and wait anxiously for that first glimpse.

After the briefing Joshua grabbed the sign from the car and we made our way to the sidewalk in front of the Clothing Issue building on Hughes St. Parents from the first briefing were joined by parents and families just arriving (who went to the 11am briefing) so we must've been nearly 3,000 strong lining the sidewalks by the time the Airmen-to-be crested "Hydration Hill" and you could hear their voices chanting their squadron "jodies". The crowds went wild, cheering the kids and their instructors on.

Each squardon carries their flag and is accompanied by their MTI all running in formation and chanting. I wasn't able to get a camera phone pic... and I was shaking. This is the shot Tim took of Joshua lookin' too cool.
The Run goes past you once and you are PRETTY SURE you've seen your child... you think... probably. If it's them, they've changed a lot. Is it really them? The glimpse is so short and there's so much excitement that you're not as sure as you'd like to be.

Bloody good thing the run goes by the crowds TWICE! Now that we knew what color and order they were running in we had a better chance of actually seeing her - for sure! As her squadron approached we raised our sign and screamed her name... SURE ENOUGH, SHE TURNED AND SMILED!!!

That was all this mom needed... I lost it. Full on tears and bawling. I finally saw my baby. I know she's ok. In fact, she looks so different, but great; tanned, freckled, thinner and running in pace with a smile that says "My family is here!" I'm tearing up just writing about it.

So they all ran by and suddenly ~ there was nothing to do but dry our eyes!

We went into the BMT Center to check out the General Store and wander around. Together we decided that the mini mall was close enough for a time-wasting walk in order to get back to the drill pad behind the BMT Center to get a good seat for the Coin Ceremony. Walking out the back of the BMT Center we saw...

AVIVAH's Squadron practicing for the Coin Ceremony!! We watched and stood so she'd see us. I'm fairly sure those little smiles she flashed were for us. :)

So the squadron marched away to dress for the Coin Ceremony and we made our way to the mini mall for a quick lunch. This (below) was my first exposure to military time on a sign... LOL!

Back at the Drill Pad behind the BMT Center we all took a seat to wait for the squadrons to arrive for the Coin Ceremony. Me n J...

Grandma n Dad...

The squadrons arrive and you see them for the first time in their "blues". Gawds, they couldn't seem farther away...

As the ceremony continues and each new Airman receives their Coin from their MTI, they come one step closer to the stands. G'head - torture us!

Someone of incredibly high rank declares that they are officially no longer trainees, but AIRMEN ... and everyone cries. The ceremony ends and everyone comes down to find their brand new Airman.

Joshua got to her first... and we followed. V was crying as much as we were. It seems that for the past week her TI had threatened her with not giving her a coin. Personality clash I think, but something else about Justin (V's bf) being in the same squadron peeved her off big time. Both kids were punished for it even though they'd done nothing wrong. Once she had that coin in her hand she was simply overwhelmed.

Tears aside, this was one proud new Airman... in glasses. (They corrected her astigmatism to give her 20/20, so it's part of her uniform now. Get used to it.)

Here she is cleaning the tears off the glasses with Grandma's cloth...

And then all she wanted was a Java Chip from Starbucks. :) Couldn't wipe that adorable grin off her face!

There wasn't a whole lot to do in the time we had together on base that day (Base Liberty only), so V decided to give her brother a backrub,

call her Aunt Karen,
and pose for a picture with her Airman's Coin.
Then we got in the car and went to the BX (Base Exchange, aka: grocery store) where she insisted on planning a picnic lunch for us for the following day. What was she planning??? A lunch for each of us, expertly prepared and custom cooked to our own specifications... Friday's lunch was to be a picnic of MREs and Grandma treated! Ok, I was apprehensive but this was V's show and I was determined to "go with it".

It was in the BX that I noticed something. V's walk is different. She carries herself differently. Her gait is more eloquent, more precise. I beamed with pride (even more).

MREs purchased, back at the BMT Center, hanging out and chatting time had to come to an end as it was getting to be 1900. We had to let her go do whatever it was she had to do that evening and it was a 10 minute walk to her squadron, so off she had to go. :(

If you haven't noticed the change in her yet, try this picture. She's simply standing there watching us move things around in the car before bidding us goodnight, nothing more.

One pic I couldn't resist. After leaving V that evening I relaxed at the hotel pool and took this shot. Enjoy it. It was one of the few glimpses we had of San Antonio sun and clear sky all weekend!

We were a boring lot that evening. All of us crashed, boys first, later me and then mom. On the other hand... it was one packed day and tomorrow was going to be full too.


Debbie in NC said...

Perfect and LOVE the details! I feel like I'm there and I'M crying!

Oh gosh....I think I'm speechless.

Will be back :)

jackie o said...

Oh my josh Lea...thank you so much for letting me share your weekend adventure in these pics and your description. "V" looks great in her spiffy new clothes~you must've been bursting with pride all weekend! Looking forward to seeing more pics and hearing more details...just 2 short weeks and we'll be there with Ryan!
~ Jackie
PAFM of AB Ryan WOT 4
PNM of SN Erik

Debra Estep said...

Hey Lea,

Gosh.... I'm hardly able to write.

I feel such pride in your words AND I can ONLY imagine what that feels like.


Proud AF Mom Vinny
Proud AF MIL Dana

Tonjia said...

WONDERFUL! EXCITING!!! WOO HOO! Love the pics Lea. Thank you for giving me the experience I never had.
What an awesome time you had. V looks so happy...

Shar said...

As you can imagine, I am a mess over here..

((sharlea)) and big hugs to V!

Michelle said...

Lea, I love all the pictures. You got more than I did! I got the chills (and tears) remembering how it felt sitting in that room with all of those other parents. The excitment just built and then we got the let down because we did not get to have a run or coin ceremony OR base lib. Can't wait for the rest of the story!


Debbie in NC said...

LOL having been told to stand up straight for 6 weeks WILL change posture :) I DO remember that!

You are doing an awsome job and I had to mute the music because I'm tearing up again!!

Can't wait to see more!