Friday, September 23, 2016

{Journal Entry} USAF BMT WOT:7 Airman's Run, Coin Ceremony, Base Liberty

I am combining my weekly BMT post with a journal entry. So many fun and interesting things happened while we were in Texas last week, that I felt I needed to journal our experiences.

The big wrench in our plans was that the week before, I had sprained my ankle pretty badly. So I had rented a knee scooter to get myself through the airports. The plus side of this little dilemma was that we got to board first and sit up near the front of the plane; on the negative side I needed some more pain meds - not for my ankle but for my poor knee and thigh muscle that took the brunt of my scooter motions.

Our flights to Texas were uneventful, and we landed around 8pm Central Time. Getting to our hotel though, was a bit of a task.

There were a few things I liked about Texas and a few things that I really did not like, and one of those things I detested was their freeway system. They have these annoying one-way frontage roads, that go alongside the freeways, and are how you exit and enter the freeway itself. These exits and entrances are not right there at the cross streets, so you need to know exactly where you are going ahead of time. Our poor GPS had no idea how to handle these things and when it would think we were on a frontage road we would be on the freeway. Because of  this, we would inevitably miss our exit, and then watch helplessly as it passed us as we were trapped on the freeway.



Finally, we made it to our hotel, right near the Riverwalk.

That night we ate at Smoke Restaurant in downtown at 10pm, since we were wide awake and not at all tired.


 {My drink, a Jack Rose}





We split a poutine (if you have never had one you need to try it) and a burger. The poutine was delicious, but the burger a bit dry.


Next morning, we were up and out of hotel door by 5:30 am (3:30 am back in CA). Getting on base was not a problem since we had our base passes already, but do take my advice and HAVE YOUR ID OUT, when you get to the front of the car line. I thought we were going to be getting out of our cars and standing in a line, so I didn't get it out until the last minute, and then had a mini heart attack/freak out moment when I couldn't find it in my wallet. After about 45 seconds of sheer terror, and a friendly security airman, I found my ID behind another card and we were on our way.

We made our way to the BMT reception hall and took the 7 am orientation class. I am the kind of person that does a TON of research before taking trips so we knew most of what they said, but there was lots of good information, so don't miss the meeting.





At around 7:30 we made our way out onto the pad behind he reception center. I had now graduated to a large ankle brace and could hobble as I walked.



You can either sit in the stands and watch, or go into the center circle and have the trainees run around you.


Promptly at 8am, the Airmen's Run began.



This is where you definitely need to know what squadron your trainee is in (Our boy was in Wolfpack), so that you know what color shirt they will be wearing (black).



It was an amazing moment; 750 trainees running in formation, chanting their jodies. While all around, thousands of family screamed, cheered, and waved signs.



Mr. Lego was still an element leader, which made him easy to spot since he was in front of his flight.


He looked so different to me!




After they came passed the crowd, they circle back around and come through them again. But this run was different - Sept 16th is POW/MIA Recognition Day, so the second run was led by the POW/MIA flag, and we stood in silence as they all passed.





It was neat moment, and as the trainees ran back to their dorms, we headed inside to the reception center. There was a gift shop there and even though it was a bit crowded, I found what I was looking for:



We headed back outside to the pad, but this time into the stands for the Coin Ceremony.


First was the Honor Graduate Ceremony. These trainees had scored very high on all their tests and were recommended for this honor by their MTI's. Only the top ten percent in each flight can get this honor, and many times not all ten percent receive it.



The next part was the Naturalization Ceremony. There were seven trainees that began BMT as citizens of other countries. Before they could become airmen, they needed to be sworn in as American citizens, so we were honored to witness this.

Then all flights began their entrance.




This was where I was really glad that Dasher had let us bring her binoculars.

He was easy to spot in the front.



This next part was for me, the most emotional part of the whole week. The head of the BMT training wing said a few words about what an amazing accomplishment this was. He talked about the sacrifice we and the trainees had made, and will be making in the future as they serve our country. He talked about the Air Force as a whole, and officially welcomed us into the Air Force family.

Then the MTI's began to pass out the coins to their flight. As they were doing this, they played patriotic songs like God Bless the U.S.A., and God Bless America. It was a very moving moment.



You can barely see it above, but Mr. Lego is being presented with his Air Force Coin. (The third black hat you see from us was his MTI. He is standing right in front of him.)


The flights then all sang the Air Force Song ("Off we go, into the wold blue yonder.....")

And then they also recited the Airmen's Creed. There is no way to describe how this sounds, especially the ending.


The final ceremony was the Retreat. This is when the national anthem is played, and the flag is lowered and folded. During this time, there was a speech about the flag, that in light of recent events, really touched my heart.


At the conclusion of Retreat, we were invited down to tap out our airmen.



Along with the other thousands of other family members, and me with my busted ankle.



We had decided ahead of time to tap him out together, and since he was in front of the flight, we came around and stood behind him.

 On three, we both tapped him on the shoulders.




As soon as we tapped him, he turned and gave me the biggest hug I think I have gotten from him, ever.


It was surreal, seeing him in his ABU's and a member of the greatest air force in the world!


He was now free for base liberty for the next six hours or so.



We took him out to our car, where we showed him the sign we made for him (which he did not see during the run), and a handful of letters that we carried from home for him.



We drove over to one of the mini-malls on base where he decided to have Popeye's for lunch.


Be prepared to stand in line and have patience wherever you go this day - 750 airmen plus their families are stuck on base and doing the same things you are doing.


We were texting the girls back home, and they wanted to see a full length photo of him, so I sent them this one:



That afternoon we explored the base, while asking him tons of questions and hearing lots of stories about his time during BMT. He also got to call some friends on our phone and he texted his sisters for a while too.

We went to the bowling alley on base and put our names on the list for an hour of play. While we were waiting, the guys played some pool.




They bowled for an hour (I sat on the couch behind them and rested my poor ankle) and got almost 4 games in.




We had originally planned to take him to a nice dinner at the Gateway Club on base, but he was due back a little earlier than usual, since someone in their flight messed up that morning.

But we were just very thankful to be able to hang out a few hours with our new airman!

That night My Sweetie and I decided to explore the Riverwalk a bit. We stayed at a hotel very near to it, and were able to access it through the mall. I highly recommend staying on or near Riverwalk; hotels provide parking for their guests which is a plus. If you come to Riverwalk and try public parking, they charge a crazy amount. And our hotel was only about 20 minutes from the base, and 15 minutes from the airport.

We ate at Casa Rio, as we were drawn in by their colorful umbrellas and fun lights.





A margarita on the river is a must.




We got combo plates - here is mine with an enchilada, tamale, and taco.




It was a very lovely way to end our amazing day.



 Next up was an early day (not as early as the one before), parade ceremony, dorm tour and some town liberty!


2 comments:

  1. Love this post! I got all teary!! Love you. Love him for serving. <3

    Kate

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  2. Thank you!! Oh, I was quite teary during the coin ceremony. It was very moving, with all they said about the commitment and accomplishments these kids were making. I held it together the whole time we were with him, and then had a little cry fest driving back to our hotel when we said goodbye the last night.

    Love you too, dear friend. :)

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