EOD graduation

EOD graduation
Oct. 20, 2011

Friday, November 19, 2010

1st day with Jim

This morning was the airmen's run. It was really cold and my teeth were chattering, but we were lined up to watch. It was irritating because there was a woman who kept getting in front of us, and she was tall! Military personnel would make her move back, and as soon as possible she'd be right back over the line again. :( When the guys ran past, I couldn't pick Jim out--everyone looked the same to me! Gram found him and so did Steve, but both Bri and I missed him even though he apparently was right in front of us. Then they turned around and ran back past AGAIN, and Bri and I still missed him! Good grief! At least his father saw him. I didn't get any photos though. Greg and Ben missed the run completely because of oversleeping!

After the run we collected Greg and Ben, then returned to the parade area to stake a seat in the bleachers. We waited in the cold, on the bleachers, for over 2 hours for the coin ceremony to begin, but it was necessary because a lot of other people did that too in order to be seated where they could see their airman. When Jim's squadron came, they stood directly in front of us. The coin ceremony is where each airman receives a special commemorative coin that signifies he is no longer a trainee, but an official Air Force airman. This was the first time I saw him, but while I was in the gift shop during the waiting period, the rest of the family saw him walk right by our bleachers. He told us later he was walking to the auditorium to practice for the honors ceremony.

After the coin ceremony we were able to down to where Jim was standing, and that was the first time we were able to touch him and speak to him! It was wonderful! From there we went to the honors ceremony, then off to our day together--but we had to stay on base. We went to lunch together at mini mall food court. It was crowded, and we had to split up, but I was able to watch Jim throughout lunch from my vantage point! Next we went to the PX and the Commissary, first time most of us had ever been in those military installations. From there we went to pick up Jim's military photos, but they were closed, so that will be a tomorrow task. We sat and talked with Jim for quite awhile at a picnic table--he wasn't allowed to come to our rooms, but he said he thinks he will be able to do that tomorrow. He isn't allowed to drive, so he asked us to take him to a store where he checked out suitcases, and then it was back to the barracks for him. Bri walked him to his dorm, and then called us to come pick her up where Jim dropped her off. I'm glad she had that opportunity with him.

In the evening we were all pretty exhausted from the emotions of the day, but we enjoyed some pizza (not the best!) together in our room and then played several rounds of Uno before calling it a day. Looking forward to graduation tomorrow!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Jim's Graduation from BMT - Day 1

The day we have been awaiting since Jim left on Sept. 20 has finally arrived! Arrangements all made, the first contingent of Allens is ready to set forth for Texas! I worked until 1:00, then scrambled to do last-minute tasks such as...you know...packing the van, and inconsequential things like that. First contingent is my mom (henceforth known as Grammy here), Greg, and me. We are the wimps who don't want to fly. I mean, really, now that they are doing full body searches before you can board a plane, who needs that?? (Steve has told me what he plans to say when they start searching him, but we'll leave that for another blog far, far away from here)

Greg was a big help packing. He found the bottle of oil Steve made us take along for our poor old 2001 van, in case it gets thirsty along the way. He also remembered a few things that I would have forgotten, being the rather ditzy person that I tend to be in excitable situations. Mom has been indispensable all along the way as well. I'm glad to have them as my travel partners.

We left home around 1:50 PM on Monday, Nov. 15. The GPS, which Gram has named Maggie, guided us expertly. I drove most of the way, but Greg took over when I had a meeting to attend online at 3:00. Around that time we ran into some heavy traffic in MD including major truck traffic, so Greg was happy to give back the steering wheel.

We found a Shoney's at dinner time in VA. Greg had never heard of Shoney's, but Gram and I were familiar with it from our experiences in the South. It was an ok meal. Greg and I were at the buffet at one point and when we came back, our seat was damp. Gram said the waitress had been filling our waters and had made a major spill. I was disappointed that I wasn't seated at the time; I might have ended up with a free dinner (although I guess my clothes would have been uncomfortably damp for the remainder of the trip!)

I wanted to snap pictures of the state signs as we approached them, but Greg was usually driving and refused me this pleasure since he was afraid we'd get annihilated by an 18-wheeler while out of the vehicle. I did get some photos of the traffic and a few water towers along the way.

Around 7:00 in the evening my cell phone rang while I was driving and Greg excitedly announced that it was Jimmy! I practically screamed into the phone at the poor boy because we hadn't heard from him in 4 weeks (other than a few letters during that time). I believe my exact first words to him were, "Hi Jimmy! We're in Virginia! We're in Virginia!" It was great to hear from him, especially on an unprecedented Monday evening. He has always called on Saturdays before that. He told us that it's getting colder and wanted to make sure we were dressed warmly. He also said he needed us to bring $65 because he owes people money. When he left, they told him not to bring more than $20, so I'm not sure who he got the money from or what he needed it for, but his mommy and daddy will supply his needs!

Steve had determined that we would stay in Kingston, TN the first night, and we made it there before 11 PM. It was a welcome sight--and a wonderful place to stay! High ceilings, two rooms in our suite with French doors--very nice. Really comfy beds. We didn't want to get up in the morning! Hence, our 9:30 departure time on Morning 2. The best part of all was that it was a free stay due to Steve's massive number of Holiday Inn Express points gained over the years.

All in all, a four-star first day on the road.