Just returned from my son's PIR and wanted to share a few of my thoughts.
We had a wonderful time and I am extremely proud of my sailor!
While having a son in boot camp, and this being my only outlet for information, I neglected to look elsewhere for service recommendations. I relied on this site daily for support and any glimpse of information/guidance as to my son's existence and the graduation schedule. I am grateful for the support and friends that were made here. While I was so hyper-focused on just getting there and seeing my son graduate, if I had the chance to change some things I would, the biggest being my airport transfers.
I stayed at the Springhill Suites Waukegan and it was nice. The shuttle service they provide to and from PIR was fine. The breakfast buffet was plentiful and the hotel was clean and well staffed.
We had no problems picking up our tickets. However- We witnessed several people being denied tickets for a few reasons-If you are not on the graduation list, or you tell your recruit you are not coming, (but later realize you can go and want to surprise him) they will NOT give you a ticket. Also- When you pick up your tickets, they will have division group photos on display in the ticket area so be on the lookout for them!!! Several people we spoke to missed this.
It was pouring rain the day of PIR, so we were all wet and cold after the ceremony and walk up to the NEX, where we had the opportunity to buy t-shirts, hats, etc. I arranged with my sailor through our letter correspondence to have his photos mailed home, one less thing to deal with or carry. Glad we did that. ***(Check the weather before you go. If its raining, you will need rain boots or shoes that you don't mind getting wet, raincoats and umbrellas as well as warmish clothes. It is quite a far walk in the rain from the drop off point to the ceremony hall.) My sailor was happy to go back to the hotel and attempt to decompress after PIR and dry out he was not in the state of mind to make a quick decision about what to do or where to go - He wanted to get in a car and get on with his day. Remember- he has not been making his own decisions for 9 weeks and does not know the area, so we did not want to stress him. He was exhausted but extremely happy. He loved the chance to put on some pajama pants and take his first private shower and use shampoo instead of bodywash for the first time since his arrival at Boot Camp. It took him a while to relax after being told what to do 24/7 but he adapted just fine. I had a large room with plenty of space and I am so glad I did. We let him lead the day. We hung out at the hotel, ordered Uber Eats for lunch and spent time catching up and making phone calls before we headed out to an early dinner prior to his return to base.
My sailor's flight to A school on Saturday did not depart until 8 PM but his arrival to O'Hare was at 4 AM. My daughter and I arrived at O'Hare at 4:30 AM. He was exhausted but still extremely happy. Our flight was that day as well, so we hung out in the terminals. It was quite a site to see a large group of sailors checking their duty bags and garment bags. Several people stopped us to ask why there were so many of them present that day in the airport, it was sweet. As we sat in the terminal he remarked that it really had not set in yet that boot camp is over and he made it.
I personally was NOT a fan of the sarge taxi service, this is just my opinion and experience. I am not here to bash them in any way, but they are not the end-all-be- all. I thought this was a private service once I paid the $99 fee for the round trip transfers from O'Hare. My transfer back to the airport on Saturday morning at 4 AM unbeknownst to me, was shared with 2 other adults and 1 infant the driver picked up before me. So this clearly was not a private transfer. I was not pleased with the condition of the car or the fact that the driver was on the phone conducting personal business almost 90% of the duration of both rides. Chicago is a huge city and there are plenty of public and private transportation companies in addition to UBER/LYFT. We arrived around 2 PM on Thursday prior to PIR and did not encounter any traffic to the Waukegan area. The drive was maybe 20 minutes both ways. Yes, I could have rented a car, but chose not to. Particularly since I was not familiar with the area, and the thought of returning a rental car in the early morning hours eludes me, as we were exhausted and ready to see our sailor again asap.
Flanagans: They DO NOT give out Navy Mom T-shirts and have not for sometime. This was a waste of time and not a locale I would frequent. Not sure where I read this on the navyformoms site, but it would be great if someone could update this information.
My sailor is now at A school and adjusting extremely well. He called me three times on Sunday and that is now such a huge privilege for him having his cell phone back.
I am glad we returned home Saturday evening. I spent Sunday in an emotional hangover of sorts and needed the day to sort it all out.
Best of luck to you all and your recruits/sailors!
Also- please feel free to PM me if you have questions.
Many thanks for sharing all this info. Since my son is now in BC, this site and all the groups have been so helpful.
Thank you for taking the time to write this. My son is going in late August.
I left info for you on your My Page that will help you as you prepare for him to leave.
Awww, this is so helpful thank you! I jotted down some notes from your post. I had tears in my eyes reading about your Sailor coming back to the hotel and trying to decompress. Congrats to both of you!
Tamara, The Form Letter now arrives 9 to 14 business days after the recruit's arrival at the RTC. Monday will be business day 13 due to the Independence Day holiday, so you should be receiving it soon. If you do not have it on or before Tuesday, which will be 3 calendar weeks since he left, then check with the recruiter to be sure the address and PIR date are the same as you were given since things can change and then go ahead and mail letters, but be sure to double-check the address against those at http://www.bootcamp.navy.mil/faq.html#contacting_recruits or Ship/Division--How it Works.
I left info for you on your My Page.