Congratulations! You have finally reached graduation week of Air Force Basic Training! Everything is different now. You may actually be treated as an adult. Soon, you will be an airman in the United States Air Force.
According to my journal (because we were given more time to write towards the last weeks of BMT), I started my 7th week of training not attending my own church services, but escorting 1st-weekers (sneaker weekers) to the services they would like to attend. That was a bit nerve-wracking because I had never been to any other services except the non-denominational one.
If I didn’t relay it earlier, the Air Force is awesome about having a service for every religion, if you’d like to attend. Anyways, another flight mate and I assisted these new girls on their way to church, and answered as many questions for them as we could, as they were terrified. (Just like you will be!)
You’ll find that when everyone else attends church and you stay back, the dorm is peaceful and quiet. I found myself doing this more often towards the end of BMT because it was the only time I had to myself (mostly). Remember, there are very few MTIs on Sundays.
Four Days Away from Seeing your Loved Ones
On Sunday, you are just four days away from seeing your loved ones. Graduation festivities start on Thursday (unless they’ve changed that).
The days prior are spent prepping for everything. More parade practice, coin ceremony practice, fun evening conversations with your MTIs, realizing they’re not that scary, and ground rules being set on what not to do during graduation week. This is not a time to get lax just because everything is more easy going.
The Airman’s Run
This is the beginning of it all. Your families will see you for the first time during the Airman’s Run. This is early Thursday morning. You will run in formation with your flight around the grandstands where you have spent much time practicing.
During the run, do not act a fool and try waving to your family members. It is hard not to smile and laugh, but please do not do this. Your MTIs expect you to maintain discipline, and there have been trainees who have lost privileges during graduation week because they fell out of formation and showed lack of discipline.
Once the run is over, you will have a quick protein bar and two cups of gatorade. Then you will be rushed to your dorm to change into your ABUs and put on your best boots for the actual Coin Ceremony. You are expected to shower, but there was really no time for that. I didn’t. You probably won’t break a sweat anyways. The run isn’t very fast.
The Coin Ceremony
Once everyone is formed up and ready to go, you will march with your new flight of men and women to the center area of the grandstands. This is where it is essential that you do not lock your knees, hold your breath, or smile. This is where you will be coined for the first time ever. It is all very grand! I’d be lying if I said I didn’t start bawling during this. I did. It was very moving. My parents were crying. You may not be able to see your family, but they will be allowed to come find you after the ceremony ends.
It took my husband forever to find me. I just cried and cried because you were not allowed to move until a family member actually touched you. Not sure if this is still the case, but I was just standing there waiting for my family to find me and they never did! Finally, a friend from my brother flight came over with his mom and she hugged me. This allowed me to go in search for my family. That’s when I saw my goofy red-headed husband searching to find me through the mass of crowds. Then I cried more.
If you have a significant other coming, you are only allowed to kiss for a moment in uniform. If you haven’t heard yet, emotion in uniform is mostly frowned upon. LOL
After the Coin Ceremony
After the Coin Ceremony, you are allowed to spend the rest of the day with your family on base. There isn’t much to do with your family on base, but if it is your family’s first time on an Air Force Base, they will probably enjoy walking around the parade grounds and seeing all the planes.
There are a few eating places and the BX, which can provide you with some fun hangs and shopping. PLEASE DO NOT BUY A BUNCH OF CRAP. Just as I mention in my packing list for females, it is best to have minimal items with you as you transition through BMT to Airman’s Week to technical school. This is because you have to carry everything on your back and try to fit it in small spaces. It’s best to not buy a bunch of clothes and junk because it’s literally going to weigh you down. Don’t buy any electronics either. These are still prohibited.
Parading Down the Bomb Run
You probably won’t be able to sleep the night before the actual parade because you are so stoked to see your family again and still high from the Coin Ceremony and realizing that you’re actually going to be moving on from this place very soon. Still, do your best to sleep because Parade day is even more draining.
You will wake up early as usual and eat at the chow hall. The parade usually starts around 9 or 10 in the morning, though it can also be cancelled if it’s raining. Ours almost got cancelled due to rain, but thankfully it held off. The weather will determine your attire at the parade. Some people have worn their long blue trenchcoats (due to rain and cold), while others go in short sleeve blues. We were in full service dress because it did get a bit chilly. The parade doesn’t take long, and once it’s over, you will meet up with your family again.
After the Parade
After finding your family for the second time, you can walk or ride over to the dorm area, as you will now get to show them where you have lived, worked, and played??? the last 7 weeks of training.
As you can see from above – this is a rough time on your looks. Blues are not the most attractive attire. Anyways, you can show them the dorms and all that. Once that’s over, they will kick all the family’s out and you will be allowed to change into civilian clothes for a day on the town. You may not always get to wear civilian clothes during this time. It depends on the commander and the week you graduate. They flip flop it every now and then. Pray you don’t have to do it in blues. It is so uncomfortable.
We were able to wear civilian clothes. I spent most of Friday alone with Mike because we had not spent any alone time together until that point. Don’t let your family harass you if you are married and want a day with your spouse. I had to get a little mean and demanding, but ultimately, we won that battle. We are married for crying out loud!
Otherwise, there are lots of things to do in San Antonio if you’ve never been before. You will have a curfew of 1900-2000. Can’t remember for sure. Still, you can do a lot in that time. Everyone will be so excited upon getting back to the dorm because HOW CAN YOU NOT BE? These are good times. NOTE: You will still do details every morning and night, though you will have more time for showering and shaving!
Saturday is a Free Day
Saturday is a totally open day. I spent mine eating amazing foods, going to get my hair cut at the mall (it felt so good), and just relaxing with family. Mike had to leave on Saturday, which was awful, but I knew I would be seeing him in a month and a half for Christmas.
I tried to relax and be grateful for everything, but Saturday is the beginning of you realizing… Whoa. This is real. I’m doing this thing.
Say your goodbyes for a long while because if you aren’t going to be in tech school around Christmas, you will not be seeing your family again until you are out of technical school or until they come visit you wherever you are.
Sunday gives you the opportunity to go to church with your family, and spend a little bit of time with them at the BX before it’s time for them to go. I think my family left around 1300, but we were free from the dorm until around 1700.
I spent the rest my day hanging with my flightmates, reminiscing and talking about Airman’s Week and what that would be like.
Sunday night, you will need to pack up for Airman’s Week because you will be moving from one dorm to another much older, ickier dorm. Still, Airman’s Week is not bad at all. Actually, it’s kind of nice. Packing for Airman’s week is where a lot of girls got in trouble because they had so much junk! Do yourself a favor and don’t buy unnecessary items. Remember, you are carrying your huge green duffel with your ABUs, toiletries, AND blues and whatever bags you brought with you to San Antonio when you made the trip down.
I had one black backpack and my duffel. I wore the duffel on my back and the backpack on my front. Other girls could barely carry their stuff and some had to throw much of it away because it just wasn’t fitting in the bags.
Be smart and minimal during this time.
Things to Remember
You won’t have access to your phone during graduation week. I know it’s tough, but you won’t. Do not have your family bring electronics that you want to take with you to Technical school. Don’t try to be sneaky either. If they find out you have them, you are going to be in trouble. Don’t think they can’t recycle you after graduation. They can.
Your family can bring some extra clothes that you want to trade out because you weren’t happy with what you wore down there on Week 0, but don’t have them bring your whole wardrobe. Remember, minimalism is key. The less you have to carry, the better off you’ll be. Pick something comfortable because you’ll be wearing civilian attire to tech school, and you’ll probably be taking a 10-15 hour bus ride. Dress to travel, not to impress.
That is all there is to it. The worst is over. Time to move on to being called “Airman.”