I thought I would post some PIR information and how things went for us. We arrived late on the Wednesday before PIR. We wanted to get a good night’s sleep and get acclimated to the area so we could make the most of our time with our Sailor during Friday’s liberty. We stayed at the Residence Inn Chicago Waukegan. So far it has been worth the extra money we paid for a two-bedroom suite with a full kitchen. My Sailor’s girlfriend is travelling with us, so it is nice for her to have her own room, bathroom, and privacy. The online pictures do not do justice to this room that it clean and comfortable. The full kitchen has dishes, utensils, and pots and pans if your Sailor craves some home cooked food (we are baking cookies!), breakfast is free, and the staff has been polite and helpful. I can’t say enough about this hotel. It was perfect!
There is a shuttle service that begins taking people to the PIR ceremony at 6:00 AM and charges $4.00 per person. This is a taxi service and is not affiliated with the hotel. It is true that the taxis bypass the car line waiting to get on base, but the taxi drops you off outside the gate so you still need to wait in line (outside!) to go through security, and in the winter this might not be the best choice. The car line moved pretty quickly once the gate opened and looking back I wish I would have taken my own vehicle. If you arrive when the gates open, be prepared for a long wait to see your sailor!
T-shirts and coins that are sold in the ceremony building are nice, but they seem to put some pressure on you to buy coins and honestly, my sailor was not that interested in them. The division shirts are nice to have and are unique to each division so I was happy with that purchase. Make sure to have some cash on hand for this. One thing to say about getting on to base: ALWAYS have your gate pass and IDs ready to hand to security, including your sailor’s military ID if they are with you.
I’m not sure what to say about Sarge’s Meet and Greet. I do not want to say negative things as it seems this is his bread and butter, but it seemed very unorganized. It would have been a great place to meet other families, but the PA system was too loud to have a conversation and the same information was repeated several times. We left before the buffet started as it seemed like this was never going to happen and we were all pretty hungry. I am assuming that Sarge may have been having an off week and could have been overwhelmed by the number of people attending. If you have a GPS like a Garmin you should have no problem getting around. We studied some maps before we left so we were familiar with names of roads and it helped a lot! Waukegan, Buckley, and Martin Luther King were all pretty important names to remember.
After liberty, we took a quick nap at the hotel then headed to O’Hare at 1:00 am. It can be confusing trying to find a place to park, but buses and shuttles run all night long so we parked in long-term parking and took a bus to the terminal. I can’t say this was the best choice, I’m sure there are better places to park but we just did not know. There is a USO in terminal 2 and that is where most of the sailors were. They can relax there until it is time to check in for their flights. We did not go to the gate to wait for our sailor to board his flight (so we didn’t have to get through security). He did not want any last minute drama at the gate. Our mission was to give him his cell phone and some personal items, so that was the end of our time together.
I hope this information helps someone prepare for PIR. Be ready for some chaos and be ready to wait. If your sailor gets delayed because of paperwork, be prepared to wait some more and understand that you may not know what is going on. It can be very frustrating, but in the end worth it! I would be happy to answer any questions and feel free to share this info if it might be helpful.
He hasn't left yet, March 20th is his date to leave, so I guess I have a few weeks before I will know.
here is the site and I list the PIR dates constantly.
Join the group for your recruits graduation date. You can chat with others that have recruits graduating with yours, and all your questions can be asked and answered there.