Saturday, October 25, 2008

Bravo Company Graduation, 1/48th Infantry Battalion

We returned home from Fort Leonard Wood last night around midnight. This morning we are pooped.

I don't know if I'll ever fly with Continental Airlines again. But I do know that I never want to step foot in the Newark Airport again.

Anyway, we left the house at 0715 to go to the airport and arrived at St. Louis around 1615. Once we got to St. Louis we were greeted by some of the nicest strangers you could ever meet. Then it was a two and a half hour drive to reach our Hampton Inn hotel in St. Roberts which is about four miles form Fort Leonard Wood. We checked in around 1900 , unpacked and got something to eat then collapsed in bed. Asleep by 2100.

We had a hasty breakfast and got to the base around 0710 the next morning. It's a good thing we left early. There was a two mile traffic jam in front of the base - tons of people going to work or attending other graduations.
We arrived at Baker Theater on Iowa Ave. and joined about 600-700 people who were there for their loved one's graduation. There were a few PR type videos and then the company Commander, Capt. Cole, introduced the graduates. He warned us that we are in his house and his house gets noisy. And then the house came down.

Everyone went nuts as Bravo Company marched in, all four platoons. Our daughter was 4th Platoon. It was amazing. Each platoon then marched separately onto the stage with their Drill Sargent singing their cadence. The soldiers then shouted their rank, last name and home state and marched off the stage. Here's part of it here but there is a 100 Mb limit on these clips and only this was small enough to fit.

There were special awards for outstanding effort. Our daughter got one for having a perfect physical fitness rating, 300 out of 300. And then it was over.

We got together at Shea Gym afterwards and met her three drill sergeants along with some of her classmates. There are not many pics here because, well, her MOS is mil intel, I don't know where her friends are being transferred for AIT and it just ain't a good idea to throw a clear pic of her face or her friends' around the Internet.

Then we took off to the PX for some shopping. A few hundred dollars later we finally got off base and asked her where she wanted to eat. We were almost back to the hotel and she yelled "Cracker Barrel!" It was the first non-fast food restaurant we drove by. She was just so desperate for non-Army food. She scarfed down her pulled pork sandwich with fries and sweet potato casserole like she just got out of jail.

We then returned to our hotel and just sat around talking for hours while she drank tea (no caffeinated beverages at all were allowed during basic training) and TheraFlu for her cold. We ate dinner at the same grill as the night before and had to have her back on base by 2045.

We drove back on base and walked her to her barracks ("You got five minutes Bravo!" yelled a female sgt. with a thick Jamaican accent). We left when the sergeants called everyone into formation (count heads to see if any one went AWOL).
This pic is as we were walking away. There are almost 200 soldiers in Bravo Company and they are all going to Advanced Individual Training (AIT) - many for medical training and transportation. Only three are mil intel and will fly to Monterey for DLI.

We slept in the next morning; our daughter called us at 0900 and said they were all outside the barracks sitting on their gear and waiting for orders. No one had a clue.

We left the hotel around 1100. At 1130 we stopped in Rolla, MO, for brunch. While eating our meal (thanks but no grits for me), our daughter called and said she was on the bus and had just left the base. The driver had just put "Ironman" on the bus's dvd system. She was on her way to St. Louis airport and her flight wouldn't leave until about 1600. Great! We could see her again in St. Louis for a little while.

We ditched the car at Enterprise (I will never rent another Corolla! It only had 2,800 miles on it when we rented it and the interior was falling apart already. It was an uncomfortable, annoying little car!) and grabbed the shuttle to the airport. We walked into the ticket area and it was a sea of green. Soldiers were lined up everywhere getting their boarding passes.

Our daughter found us and then we found a Starbucks. She was wearing her brand new ACU's. It was only an hour but you just hate to let the time go. But she is a soldier now and she belongs to Uncle Sam. We finally said our goodbyes for the last time and she walked away. She's so dawg goned little but she has the determination of a six footer.

The flight to Newark was late but uneventful. The Continental people in St. Louis were mocking Newark Airport as we waited for the plane to arrive. I just hate these little jets. The ERJ145 has only three aisles; one seat along the left side of the plane and two seats along the right side. You just can't get comfortable in it. Thank God I didn't have to use the rest room.

What can I say about Newark Airport? It is huge and under construction. When we landed I could see that there were lots of aircraft lined up ass-to-nose along the runways.

Continental contracts with a smaller provider for service to Syracuse and you fly these little turboprops that sound like insane angry eggbeaters. The actual flight only lasted about forty-five minutes and we were taxing around for longer than that trying to take off. The idiot captain binged us and said that we would be waiting four or five minutes to take off. Forty minutes later we were still on the ground.

We sat in the very ass end of the plane, a Bombardier Q-200 that seats only 39 people; any more passengers and you have to install meat hooks. The prop wash was shaking us like a terrier with a chew toy. Applause broke out in the cabin when the blasted thing finally took off. They should issue 'ludes as standard fare whenever you board these little stinking planes.

We got into Syracuse and drove home. Today it is raining and we're just putting things away and making calls.

Our daughter called about 1500. She is in the plane at LAX - she was not allowed on the flight from LAX to Monterey last night because she had a bad nose bleed. She called the base and offered to rent a car and drive the six hours to DLI, but they told her to catch another flight in the morning. One of her buddies from basic who is also assigned to DLI is still with her and refused to travel onto DLI without her. They drill it into your head not to abandon your buddy and this gal did just that. The guy that was with them left but I don't think he knew she was not able to fly.

The two of them spent the night at the LAX USO on a couch.

That darn head cold of hers.... she was blowing her nose so much that the discharge has been flecked with blood for several days in a row. She finally popped something. The USO people took good care of them; she slept about ten hours but she still sounds terrible..

She did the correct thing and called the base to notify them right away of her transportation issues. She is still worried that she may be in trouble. I told her that she is just following orders. They told her to grab another flight in the morning, nothing was said about waiting for the MP's to arrest her. I truly hope the soldier who stayed with her is not in hot water.

She really has to get herself to sick bay first thing.

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