My boyfriend had PIR on 4/22 and I figured I'd give everyone a rundown of how it went. I would put it in the PIR Reference section but this group is much more active!
We flew out to Chicago (O'Hare) on Thursday, by the time we got the rental car and to the hotel it was about 10:30 pm. We spent the next two hours exploring other door decorations, putting up our own, and getting all of our clothes ironed for the next morning. If you fly out Thursday afternoon, expect a late night. We were up at 4:30 am the next morning, got ready a little bit, and then went down to the lobby (we stayed at Navy Lodge) where they had early breakfast at 5:30 for those headed out to PIR. We left the hotel around 7 am, we decided to drive, not take a shuttle. There were signs on the road that tell you where to turn for PIR and where to park, as well as some sailors directing the traffic. Security did not take long for us at all, granted we had a TG of 5 divisions and we were in the staff reserved seating section, so don't expect security to go quickly if you have a large TG. We waited for a little over an hour I believe, there were snack carts and a place that sold challenge coins for $15 or $18 dollars a piece depending on style. I highly recommend watching other PIRs, whether it be on Youtube or the live stream, it will help with the anxiety! We all had watched many prior to going, so we knew the general chain of events instead of having to guess "How many more songs are they going to sing?" or "How much longer is this going to take?" You'll know when it gets close to Liberty call, they'll start announcing what to do after the service is over, and you'll feel your stomach start to drop. Get ready to run. My friends and family watching the livestream back at home said they could see me dart across the drill hall floor when liberty was called! I suggest telling your sailor to stay where they are, because chances are between the 3 or 4 people you have there, one of you will spot them. I was able to spot my sailor, and everyone else found me easier than they did him. They have to exchange their coats, because the one they are given back is not their own, and they can chat and hug for a few minutes before the drill hall closes. After that we walked back to the chapel, that's as far as visitors can go, and waited for our sailor to go sign out and get his liberty card. After that we went to the NEX where our sailor picked up some challenge coins he placed on hold, and we bought some souvenirs. Then we all went back to the hotel so our sailor could relax. His voice was almost completely gone, he had a slight cold. We picked a place to eat, then went out and got him a phone. That was enough to have him tired again so we went back to the hotel until we had to take him back for the night. His liberty expired at 8, do not let them be late!! If you are early you can spend time in the parking lot, but you do not want to make them late!! They will still get in trouble!! We decided not to sleep that night, and left at 1 am for Midway airport where our sailor was flying out. We got there at 2 am and saw a huge crowd of sailors, it will be obvious where they are! The USO rep will tell you and your sailor what to do and how to obtain gate passes. Don't get your hopes up, sometimes you may not be able to get one if the airline is busy. We gave all of our id's to our sailor and were able to get gate passes. We hung around the airport until we had to go sit at the gate. It's emotional having to watch your sailor leave again so soon, but just know they are in good hands. They are very well respected on the flight. He is now at Goose Creek, SC for Nuke school. He had liberty the rest of the weekend, and is in indoc for a while, though he still has briefs he has to go to. He is in love with the base and was able to go there with some of his shipmates from his division. After bootcamp they have a lot more freedom, enjoy it!
My sailor ended up giving me his cold, so I apologize if I skipped over any events. Feel free to ask any questions or what not.
Look forward to PIR, it is magical!
Challenge coins are little coins that have different images, such as ship number, division flag, the base, or things like that. I chose to not get them for my sailor because I was unsure if he had already got them or which ones he would want. But basically they are just little collectible coins that mark where they have been in their career.
You can bring it to give to them before their flight early saturday morning. (I think Pensacola shippers had later flights.) Also, as far as door decorations it is completely up to you!! Some people went big, some people just wrong congrats on a poster! You know your sailor best, and you know what they would like to see. It's more so the amount of effort you put into it that means the most to them!
That would be good! Or if you're nervous about which to pick you could always do a gift card for him to put towards one! I'm not sure about you, but I was super nervous about picking out a gift!
I've heard the Casio G-Shock is very popular among sailors. Good luck finding something! Here's a link to help! http://navyformoms.com/group/bootcampmoms/page/gift-ideas-for-pir
I'm glad that it helped you!
From what I've heard most Great Lakes sailors don't get most of Friday because they have to check into their next command, but you can get them around 6 or 7 the next morning. Take this with a grain of salt as I didn't have a sailor that stayed in Great Lakes nor did any of his close buddies. I found this info for you though, from this website.