I didn’t cry. Almost, but not quite. Family day was Thursday, and that was the hardest. First off, some drill instructor gave us a (tiny but annoying) taste of what our boys went through – ordering us around and telling us how to respond. Truth be told, some of those families needed the instruction. I just wanted to see Recruit. The platoons ran past us twice in one location, then stood in formation in another. The hardest part was figuring out which kid with glasses was ours (he’s been in contacts since age 14.) Eventually, we went to the parade deck to see them lined up in front of us, and Better Half managed to identify him, noting the chevron on his arm. “I see a Private First Class,” were the best words I’d heard all day! FINALLY, they were dismissed for 4 hours base leave, and I got to hug my baby!!! And yes, he had that deer-in-the-headlights-look on his face, but it didn’t take him long to get un-twitchy, and relax.
Poor kid didn’t even know exactly why he’d been promoted; it was a merit promotion, not a best-in-category promotion. According to one of his DI’s, he “did what he was told and asked for more.” See, I’d had this little fantasy that even if he wasn’t the fastest or the strongest or the best shot, they would recognize his character and promote him because he’s the kind of guy the Marines want more of. And I’ll be damned. They did just that! He did earn “expert marksman,” though. This is a young man who once voiced concern that without any formal training, I was a better shot than him. So we took pictures and visited with my parents and my uncle, and PFC (yup, that’s his new name) thoroughly enjoyed a very mediocre pizza, a Mountain dew, and his favorite homemade cookies. He’s no longer a picky eater, by the way. Imagine that. He texted his pals and sent a phone-pic, and gave us our Christmas gifts – USMC sweatshirt for me.
Sadly, during boot, he never got to rappel on The Wall, and part of the Crucible was rained out. I guess if the trucks can’t make it to the obstacles, the recruits don’t go either, but they did get to camp out in that crap. Lucky boys!
That night, Mom and Dad took BH and me to dinner at the Corvette Diner, on the former naval base where Dad attended boot camp in ’45. Good food, but noisy! Still on Eastern time and emotionally exhausted, we hit the sack early. Friday was sort of anticlimactic. We had an early breakfast and attended the colors ceremony, and finally went back to the parade deck. Despite the rude family in front of us and the clueless mom behind us (“What are those thingy’s on some of their arms?” “What do they give promotions for?”) it was a beautiful ceremony. Very few people were recognized individually, although it was noted that one Coastie finally got it right and joined the Marines. The Marine band is amazing!!! Strict auditions to even get in, drill experts (duh) and combat-ready. An aside: Musically inclined people tend to have personalities not entirely compatible with those of alpha warriors. Mad skillz, and then some. I guess. The mind boggles! And it was really weird to see them do a Dixieland rag, all relaxed and boppin’ around – in uniform! I’d watch them anytime, anywhere.
PFC had lost his ID during the Crucible, so it took us a couple of hours running and waiting (government bureaucracy is alive and well) to get it replaced. We left the base and had a late lunch at “In and Out,” a burger joint modeled after the early Mcdonalds’. It was good going in, but awful going out. I suffered about 9 hours of food poisoning that night; thank God we’d planned to stay Saturday and play tourist. I slept it off and they guys had several hours of father/son time. Later in the afternoon, we drove to Point Loma and poked around.
The trip home was almost uneventful; a woman at the airport had us bypass the line to go through security, so we got to take off our shoes as soon as they opened! She asked PFC if he was active-duty, and of course he said, “Yes Ma’am.” She laughed and said, “Yeah, you sound like it. I don’t get a lot of ‘Huh?’s from military.” We almost didn’t get out of
on our connecting flight; our de-icing was delayed, and by the time we hit the runway, other planes were returning to the gates. Smooth sailing from there. Once home, I unpacked, BH went for groceries, and PFC went off with his buddies. I didn’t see the receipt from the store, but there’s more meat in the fridge than we normally eat in a month! Oh! And PFC gets 5 more days leave to work in the recruiting office! Yippee! Denver
We lost some photos due to a glitch in the digital camera (time for a new one, dammit!) but we still have plenty. I’ll post one when BH gets them into a file.