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!
Great post. Very helpful! One question I had that I haven't found an answer to yet though is, is there a dress code for PIR guests? Are people normally dressed up or dressed comfortably etc and are there certain colors to shy away from when choosing what to wear?
Glad I could help! There's not really a dress code, you can go in jeans or a dress, I saw everything! Me personally, it had been two months since my boyfriend had seen me, I wanted to look cute! His mom and sister also wore dresses. Just think, these pictures will be ones you look back at for years, so be comfortable and confident!
I haven't been keeping up with the news on that, but when we went the lines weren't any worse than expected, just make sure you get there plenty time in advance!
Hi all! My Sailor just graduated this past Friday 5/20. I'd like to share as well, maybe there's some info you can get from our experience that will help you out as well.
We stayed at the Navy Lodge. Our check in was Thursday. We flew in to Midway and got a rental, it was early- about 930 am when we arrived at the NL. We could NOT check in that early unless we wanted to pay for an extra night. The lady at the desk said we'd have to come back at 3 for regular check in. So we went to Gurney Mills Mall (for the next 4 hours) When we got back to the NL, it was just after 2 and there were tons of people waiting to check in. I must say- their check in process was unorganized and discombobulated to us. I had the reservation in my name, but as soon as she found out my mother had a retired military id, she insisted in changing everything to her name- even though the room rate didn't change and I was still paying the bill. Plus she had to do each room check in separately. We probably stood at the counter for at least 20-25 minutes between waiting on the one person in front of us and then us getting checked in. So - that out of the way, the rooms are nice and clean. Very simple, no frills, but ours had a mini fridge and microwave. We had no issues at all with our rooms. The NL is very close to RTC and TSC GL. Just a mile or so down the road. Plus they give you a card to use at the 7 day store on the corner (normally you have to have military id). They also provide you with several papers on graduation, restaurants, malls/entertainment, & maps. Plus a form to order the DVD of PIR if your sailor didn't pre-order it. We took the 7 am shuttle. It was AWESOME! It bypasses the 2 mile line of cars waiting to get in and drops you right at the curb for security. The 7 am worked fine for us (I was a bit worried about not being early enough) but we sat on the lower level and right in front of our daughters division. We had great seats. The line for the shuttle back, later on wasn't too bad- the driver was knowledgable and very friendly.
We only got about 30 minutes with our daughter on Friday- she stays in GL for A school. So after liberty is called, for those staying- you get about 30 minutes to head to the NEX, take photos, etc. Then they have to go back to their ship, get chow, and then be on the bus to A school at 1230. We walked to the NEX with her, she picked up her divisional t-shirts and stuff she had ordered and then double timed it back to her ship so she could get chow and not miss the bus. From there, we went to pick up her photos (she did not have her bank card at BC so she couldn't pre-pay for them the Wed before PIR). Ok- the photo pickup is SO UNORGANIZED! If you've read threads about the long line, believe it. It's ridiculous. When you walk in the door- there are no signs about where you need to go for what. So, I took the door on the left, In that room you can do professional family photos with their photog, you can order additional stuff and also at a table pick up division photos and some coins. ( I stood in the wrong line for ten minutes before finding out I was in the wrong place) So, again- if you walk in the front door - to pick up photos go straight to the back wall, you can pick them up there. CHECK YOUR SAILORS PHOTOS TO MAKE SURE THEY ARE YOUR SAILOR! One lady picked up photos and stood in line only to find out her sailor wasn't in the photos- the envelope was labeled correctly, but they put the wrong person inside. So after pickup, then you get in the line that goes out the door. This line will eventually take you into a room on the right where you can pay, and again, order more stuff. The photo pickup was the only thing that really took so much un-necessary time. It really needs an overhaul to the flow.
We left by the shuttle and went back to the NL to change and wait. If your sailor stays in GL- it can take 3-5 hours for them to check in. But don't worry, you get them all weekend. So, after changing, we went to the base to drive around, find the NEX and just check things out. ***IF YOU DO NOT HAVE A VALID MILITARY ID YOU CANNOT GET PAST THE GATE*** (My mother is retired Marine, and my son is active duty Marine) All other visitors must wait at the visitor center just left of the main gate. We got lucky and saw our daughter walking with a group headed for the visitor center- this was around 4pm Friday. We had her until 2130 (930). We were able to drive her back to her ship because we can get on base- anyone else, will have to drop their sailor at the visitor center and they have to walk back. It's a decent walk back to their ship, my suggestion would be to arrive 30 minutes before they say they have to be back.
Saturday we were able to pick her up at 6am. Curfew again was 2130. We did the "tourist" type stuff on Saturday. Navy Pier, mall, etc. She was tired but wanted to be out all day instead of hanging at the hotel. We let her decide everything she wanted to do. **Note** If you go to the Navy Pier, you'll have to pay to park (downtown chicago) and aside from walking down to the end, personally, I was expecting much more. There's a couple of restruants, a gift shop, and some boat tours- other than that it was just a nice walk in the sun. (I kind of expected it to be more tourist-y like the boardwalk at the beach) When taking her back to the base that night- we sat in traffic outside the gate for 20 minutes! She was so worried she would be late and she didn't want to be the one to get everyone in trouble.
Get back to base early just in case!
Sunday am- we picked her up at 6am again. This time, she came back to the NL, changed into her pjs (clothes from home- take them their lounge pants and a tee shirt) and went back to sleep for 3 hours. Then for the day we just did some random shopping. They may need to make a run to walmart/target for personal items. We picked up shampoo/conditioner, laundry detergent, cleaning supplies, etc (like a college student would need). We also ate at Cheesecake Factory- it's in the Lincolnshire area, about 15 minutes from the NL. If you go on Sunday, get there earlier to avoid the after church crowd. We had her back to base at 5pm Sunday because we had to leave for our evening flight.
That's our PIR weekend. If anyone has any questions, please- feel free to send me a friend request, or post here. I'll be happy to share what I know.