This site is for mothers of kids in the U.S. Navy and for Moms who have questions about Navy life for their kids.



Choose your Username.  For the privacy and safety of you and/or your sailor, NO LAST NAMES ARE ALLOWED, even if your last name differs from that of your sailor (please make sure your URL address does not include your last name either).  Also, please do not include your email address in your user name. Go to "Settings" above to set your Username.  While there, complete your Profile so you can post and share photos and videos of your Sailor and share stories with other moms!

Make sure to read our Community Guidelines and this Navy Operations Security (OPSEC) checklist - loose lips sink ships!

Join groups!  Browse for groups for your PIR date, your sailor's occupational specialty, "A" school, assigned ship, homeport city, your own city or state, and a myriad of other interests. Jump in and introduce yourself!  Start making friends that can last a lifetime.

Link to Navy Speak - Navy Terms & Acronyms: Navy Speak

All Hands Magazine's full length documentary "Making a Sailor": This video follows four recruits through Boot Camp in the spring of 2018 who were assigned to DIV 229, an integrated division, which had PIR on 05/25/2018. 

Boot Camp: Making a Sailor (Full Length Documentary - 2018)

Boot Camp: Behind the Scenes at RTC

...and visit - America's Navy and also Navy Live - The Official Blog of the Navy to learn more.

OPSEC - Navy Operations Security

Always keep Navy Operations Security in mind.  In the Navy, it's essential to remember that "loose lips sink ships."  OPSEC is everyone's responsibility. 

DON'T post critical information including future destinations or ports of call; future operations, exercises or missions; deployment or homecoming dates.  

DO be smart, use your head, always think OPSEC when using texts, email, phone, and social media, and watch this video: "Importance of Navy OPSEC."

Follow this link for OPSEC Guidelines:



**UPDATE 4/26/2022** Effective with the May 6, 2022 PIR 4 guests will be allowed.  Still must be fully vaccinated to attend.

**UPDATE as of 11/10/2022 PIR vaccination is no longer required.

**UPDATE 7/29/2021** You now must be fully vaccinated in order to attend PIR:

In light of observed changes and impact of the Coronavirus Delta Variant and out of an abundance of caution for our recruits, Sailors, staff, and guests, Recruit Training Command is restricting Pass-in-Review (recruit graduation) to ONLY fully immunized guests (14-days post final COVID vaccination dose).  


RTC Graduation

**UPDATE 8/25/2022 - MASK MANDATE IS LIFTED.  Vaccinations still required.

**UPDATE 11/10/22 PIR - Vaccinations no longer required.


Please note! Changes to this guide happened in October 2017. Tickets are now issued for all guests, and all guests must have a ticket to enter base. A separate parking pass is no longer needed to drive on to base for parking.

Please see changes to attending PIR in the PAGES column. The PAGES are located under the member icons on the right side.

Format Downloads:

Navy Speak

Click here to learn common Navy terms and acronyms!  (Hint:  When you can speak an entire sentence using only acronyms and one verb, you're truly a Navy mom.)

N4M Merchandise

Shirts, caps, mugs and more can be found at CafePress.

Please note: Profits generated in the production of this merchandise are not being awarded to the Navy or any of its suppliers. Any profit made is retained by CafePress. Para Familias

Visite esta página para explorar en su idioma las oportunidades de educación y carreras para sus hijos en el Navy.



PIR Day and Liberty during PIR Weekend

Please note the following concerning PIR:

This is from on 03/09/2020:

Beginning 13 March, Navy Recruit Training Command (RTC), the Navy’s boot camp, will suspend guest attendance at graduation ceremonies to prevent any potential spread of COVID 19 to either Sailors or Navy families.

Graduations themselves will continue, and will be live-streamed on Navy online platforms, including our Facebook page.

Commander, Naval Service training command, which oversees RTC, will continue to monitor the situation and consult with medical experts to decide when it is appropriate to resume guest attendance at graduation ceremonies. There are currently no confirmed cases of COVID-19 among recruits, and RTC has robust screening processes in place for those who arrive each week.

This action is being taken out of an abundance of caution, to both ensure the welfare of Sailors and that RTC can continue its essential mission of producing basically trained Sailors. RTC Recruits impacted by this change are being authorized to call home to directly inform their loved ones.

Liberty will be cancelled for graduates of RTC. They will report directly to their follow-on assignments. Liberty or guest access at those locations will be at the discretion of those commands. Families are encouraged to contact their recruits following graduation for details. We cannot speak on behalf of the commands they will be reporting to regarding their liberty policy.

This is from on 03/09/2020:

Beginning March 13, Training Support Center (TSC) Great Lakes will cancel liberty for Sailors coming from U.S. Navy Recruit Training Command following their graduation and will suspend guest from attending “A” "C" School graduations to prevent the possible spread of COVID 19.

TSC Great Lakes will continue to work with the other area commands in monitoring the situation with the consultation of medical experts to decide when it is appropriate to resume liberty and guests attending “A” and "C" School graduations.

This action is being taken out of an abundance of caution to ensure the welfare of all staff and students at the command.


If your then Sailor is attending "A" School or training in another location, then check with your Sailor once s/he arrives at the new command to know when you will be able to visit. New Sailors will be advised soon after arrival on the command policy for visitors and Liberty.


Once the above action is lifted, then the following will again be in place.

The Page, Saving Money PIR Weekend, has information on hotels, transportation to GL, and more. Know that your presence PIR weekend will be gift enough for your Sailor, but Gift Ideas for PIR will give you ideas if you want to give your new Sailor something special.

If you do not live in Illinois and plan to use a debit card, you may want to call your bank before you leave and let them know that you will be traveling and the dates. The automatic fraud detection may lock your card and prevent it from being used. It may happen even if you call, but you will be able to call and remove the lock.  Most of you will be able to use your debit cards without a problem even if you don't call, but it is good to know that this is a possibility and be prepared. A lock could also be placed on your debit card if your card has a daily spending limit, especially if the hotel has put a hold on the card for the cost of your stay. Hotels will put a hold on $75 to $150 per room for "incidentals" that you may charge while staying with them. The money is not deducted if you do not use it, but the hold prevents you from having access to the funds for the duration of your stay and sometimes for several days afterwards.

The first time you will see your Sailor is at PIR unless you are blessed to catch a glimpse of him/her in a photo on or in the livestream of PIR at if your recruit is in a 900 division. The new Sailors are not present at any of the Meet and Greets the night before PIR. Meet and Greets are for the loved ones and friends of the graduating Sailors to get together and have some fun and food together and get some information that may help them the next day. Dress is casual for the Meet and Greets and guests of all ages are welcome to attend.

See (this has the rules the new Sailors must abide by while on Liberty). has some good info, but the info about a password is outdated. Guests now have tickets to access RTC and attend PIR and the ticket is the gate pass. 

If you plan to swim as part of the weekend activities, be sure your Sailor knows this and has his/her PT gear before leaving RTC since Graduating Sailors must remain in their complete uniform while on liberty.

You may want to take a set of comfy clothes (T-shirt and PJ bottoms, for example) for your Sailor to change into and wear while in the hotel room. Remember that s/he cannot leave the hotel room in those.

All newly graduated Sailors must stay within 50 miles of RTC (for those flying out) or TSC (for those staying in GL) PIR weekend. If you are unsure if a place you want to visit with your Sailor is within the Liberty mileage limit, then use 3355 Illinois Street, Great Lakes, IL 60088 to check. Where to Go in Chicago! may have some ideas for you.

Sailors will be in their dress uniform on the day of PIR and in the Navy Service Uniform (NSU, AKA peanut butters) on the following day/s of Liberty and at the airport.

See for the schedule for PIR.

You may find these documents from Sarge helpful: Sarge's Suggestions and LATEST BOOT CAMP FAMILY SURVIVAL GUIDE. You may also want to check out, which includes additional links. He has more info in; this is from 2015, but it is still a good place to start.

The comment by BeachBunny at may be helpful. Her comments include info on how to spend less time in traffic.

Jyssicarm made a youtube video that explains her experience with PIR on 10/30/2015 that may help you. She has a Sailor who was in a 900 division (Sticks/Flags) who flew out to Pensacola. It can be found at

The discussion, It gets better and some helpful hints!, by TJsMom may be helpful. It includes hints if your Sailor flies out of Midway. The discussions, My 1/24/14 PIR experiences and My O'Hare experiences for our Sailor who left for A-School (PIR 1/24/14), by A's_momma_Erin may be helpful and have info for those with a Sailor in a 900 division and/or if your Sailor flies out of O'Hare. The info at and may also be of interest to you.

Pick up your tickets prior to PIR at the Recruit Family Welcome Center. The Recruit Family Welcome Center is located at the Navy Exchange Burkey Mall, 2650 Green Bay Rd. Great Lakes, IL. 60088. It is open Thursday [10:00 AM to 7:30 PM], and Friday [5:30 AM to 8:00 AM]. The tickets can be picked up at any of those times, but it would be best to pick them up on Thursday to be certain to get into RTC for PIR. Guests must present themselves in person at the Recruit Family Welcome Center and provide the ID that was indicated on the Security Form that the recruit sent with the form letter and that a loved one returned to the recruit. Guests 3 years of age and older must have a ticket to enter RTC. Those under the age of 3 will be able to attend with a copy of their birth certificate in place of a ticket. 

When PIR is on a day other than Friday, then the Recruit Family Welcome Center will be open at the hours stated on the day before PIR and the morning of PIR to permit guests to pick up their tickets.

Driving to RTC

If you plan to use a GPS to navigate to the base, enter this address: 3355 Illinois Street, Great Lakes, IL 60088

If you want traffic updates tune your radio to WLS am 890 or WGN am 720.

You can avoid most tolls by using Route 41, it goes all the way to Chicago and will get you from Chicago to RTC and nearby lodging. If you are traveling through Chicago on the way to and from Great Lakes, follow 94 East which merges into Route 41 to avoid toll roads. Your hotel may be able to give you directions to RTC that will avoid toll roads. may help you to plan for the toll costs. Some car rental agencies will try to convince you to purchase an I-PASS for about $10 a day. Don't do that! You can avoid toll roads most of the time and if you have to travel on a toll road, the tolls will be much less than the cost of the I-PASS. 

If you drive, stay out of the right lane because it ends and you do not want to have to try to merge. The gate opens at 6:30 am, but there is often a line beginning at 6:00, so plan to arrive early.

  • Families, friends, veterans, Sailors, and guests of Recruit Training Command: Vehicle traffic for all visitors attending the recruit graduation ceremony will be directed by Naval Station Security into one of two gates. For those traveling east on Buckley Rd. (typically coming from I-94), please follow the directions of our security staff as they will be directing you into the gate that is located on Buckley Rd. For those of you traveling from the north or south on Sheridan Rd., please follow the directions of our security staff as they will direct you into the gate that is located on Downey Rd. (adjacent to the train station). All other graduation attendance requirements remain unchanged.
  • All pedestrian traffic will still enter the gate located on Downey Rd. (adjacent to the train station).
  • We appreciate your cooperation as we move towards a safer and more efficient process for recruit graduation attendees.

Be sure to have your registration and proof of insurance or car rental agreement available when entering at the gate. Be sure that everyone in the vehicle has current ID; it is possible that a person with an expired ID would be refused admittance. Some vehicles will be pulled aside randomly for additional screening.

If you or someone in your party has difficulty walking, make sure that you have a handicapped/disabled placard displayed upon entering RTC so that your vehicle will be directed to the correct parking area. (If your vehicle has permanent disabled license plates and you will not be using your own vehicle, check with your local license bureau about getting a handicapped/disabled placard for use during PIR weekend. It may require a form from your physician or proof of the license plate depending on your state.) Use of wheelchairs and manually-powered mobility aids are authorized on board RTC. They also have wheelchairs available and Sailors/Recruits will help to seat you in one of the handicapped areas. They will help you to find the area closest to your Sailor's division. If you have your own wheelchair, do bring that because you will be able to sit in it and won't have to wait your turn for transport after the ceremony. If you use one from RTC, then you will be transferred to a chair and will have to wait for one of the wheelchairs to be brought back for you after the ceremony. One other person will be able to sit with you in the handicapped area and any others with you will sit in the bleachers. If others in your party choose to sit in the section behind the handicapped area, have them sit in the third or fourth row and not in the first row so that they will be able to see. If you have trouble walking and you don’t have your own wheelchair, you may want to consider renting one in your hometown for use PIR weekend—ask your doctor about writing a prescription for use of a wheelchair for a week. Even if you don't have a handicapped placard, you will be able to utilize one of the wheelchairs at RTC if it is needed, so don't hesitate to ask if you have a need for one. (See

Walking onto RTC

If you take a taxi or shuttle or otherwise walk in, it is about 100 yards to the Visitors Center from the gate and then about the same to the USS Midway Ceremonial Drill Hall. (That distance increases to nearly triple that once the lines are set up that weave back and forth.) The Parking Garage is adjacent to the Visitors Center. Dress warmly in winter and wear comfortable shoes all year round. You will need current ID to enter RTC; it is possible that a person with an expired ID would be refused admittance. The Drill Hall opens at 7:00, so if you plan to walk onto RTC arrive around that time or after. If you arrive earlier, you will be standing outside, which can get cold in the winter. 

If you plan to take a shuttle to RTC, then be sure to sign up at your hotel when you arrive in order to have the time you want. The longer you wait to sign up, the later your arrival will be at RTC. You can also sign up at Sarge's Meet and Greet if you plan to use his services.

Other Important Information

Graduation Programs: You can print out the Graduation Program through a link on the RTC website beginning two days before PIR (click the link under the heading, "Recruit Graduation Award Winner Certificate"); you must do so before the next week's program is posted, usually two days prior to PIR. (If you go to the site after that, then click on the link and change the date to the date for the PIR you want using a three letter abbreviation for the month.)

If an interpreter is needed for a deaf or hearing impaired individual, contact the PAO prior to PIR (several weeks notice is best) and they will provide an on-site qualified interpreter for the graduation ceremony.

PIR is held inside within the USS Midway Ceremonial Drill Hall on board RTC. All visitors must check in at the USS Yorktown (RTC's Visitors Center) and have their IDs checked and their hands stamped prior to being permitted to move on to the Drill Hall. Be sure that everyone in your party has current ID; it is possible that a person with an expired ID would be refused admittance. Some guests will be pulled aside for additional screening, which is similar to what happens at Airport Security.

If you have others in your group who do not have tickets to PIR who make the trip to GL, they should wait at the hotel and meet up later at a place away from RTC--at a restaurant or at the hotel. Only guests are authorized to be on RTC. Those who do not have a ticket with their name on it will not be able to enter RTC.

Plan to arrive at RTC by 6:30 am CST when the gates open on the day of PIR if you are driving onto RTC or around 7 am CST if you will be arriving by taxi or shuttle or otherwise walking onto RTC.

RTC will stream PIR live at beginning at 8:45 am CST for those who are unable to attend in person. (Once PIR has passed, you will be able to see the video at If the one you want is not there, then click on a PIR video and then change the date in the URL to the date you want. You will have to change both the numerical date and the written out date in the URL. For example, if you want the video for the March 3, 2017 PIR date, then change to

For those who do not have a ticket to PIR, the National Museum of the American Sailor offers an opportunity to view the livestream during PIR. While this event is free, tickets are required to attend the livestream viewing. Only 100 tickets for seated viewers will be available the day before graduation from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on the morning of graduation beginning at 8:15 a.m. at the museum, 2531 Sheridan Road, Great Lakes, IL 60088. After the first 100 tickets have been distributed, 30 standing room only tickets will be available. Minors under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult over the age of 18. Beginning October 18, graduation livestream viewing at the Museum is suspended for ongoing facility work. The Museum will be open for livestream viewing on Friday, November 8. All other graduation weeks are cancelled. 

Admission to the museum livestream viewing:
The doors for the livestream viewing will open at 8:30 a.m. on graduation morning. Please note the museum is located on an active military base. As such, guests should line up for livestream viewing no earlier than 8:15 a.m. A bag check is required. Food and drink is allowed while viewing graduation, but is not allowed in museum exhibits. If you have questions about the livestream viewing of Recruit Training Command’s graduation, please call 847-688-3154 or email


Remember that your Sailor will be in dress blues/whites and you want to wear something that will be appropriate for the occasion and look good in pictures with your Sailor. (GL typically changes over to dress blues the first full week of October and to dress whites the last full week of April or first week of May. GL switched from dress blues to dress whites on 6 May 2019 (dress whites for the 05/10/2019 PIR) and from dress whites to dress blues on 7 October 2019 (dress blues for the 10/11/2019 PIR). The command determines the switch over date and it could change from that if the need arose.) I suggest that you wear business casual or nice church clothes. You will see people wearing everything from very casual to formal. Remember that you will be standing and walking quite a bit, so wear comfortable shoes. Also remember that you will be sitting in metal bleachers inside the USS Midway Ceremonial Drill Hall, so consider dress length if you wear a dress/skirt. You may want to take something to sit on--a cushion, small thick blanket, or jacket--especially in the cooler months. Dress in layers because the temperatures in the Drill Hall have ranged from cool to very warm and are not related to the outside temperature. (Loved ones have reported that the temperatures are comfortable or even warm inside the Drill Hall in the winter months, but that they still appreciate having something to sit on. Loved ones have reported needing a light jacket some weeks and being comfortable to warm at times during the summer and fall months.)

There are signs with the division numbers on them within the Drill Hall to indicate the approximate location that the Sailors in each of the divisions will be standing. Look for the sign for your Sailor's division and sit in that area or at a slight angle (in the section just to the left or right) of the sign to give you the best view. By sitting at an angle to the division, you will be able to scan the Sailors more easily than if you are seated directly in front of them and looking straight down the rows.  If you sit to the right of the sign for the division, then you can get a glimpse of any colored stripes on the Sailor's left sleeve if s/he has any to help you identify your Sailor. (See E-1, E-2, or E-3? How did that happen?.) Some suggest sitting at the top of the section on the floor so you can lean against the wall at the top below the balcony. Some feel that sitting in the balcony gives the best view, but others will disagree with that. Sitting in the bleachers on the floor level gives you faster access to your new Sailor. Sitting at least 4 rows off the floor will allow you to see well. The important events are shown on two large screens, so you will be able to see everything from wherever you choose to sit. You make the decision as to where to sit.

The Sailors really do look alike at PIR so knowing ahead of time where your Sailor will be marching/standing within the division may help you to locate him/her faster than if you don't have that information. Ask your Sailor to tell you where s/he will be standing when s/he makes the "I'm a Sailor!" call or ask in a letter about 2 weeks before PIR so that s/he has time to respond. The Sailors are arranged by height with the tallest Sailors in the division in the back. Some loved ones take binoculars or use the zoom feature on their cameras to help locate their Sailors. If you choose to do this, you may want to wait until the recruits are in formation rather than while they are marching so you can better see what is happening. Do not bring signs, banners, balloons, wrapped gifts, gift bags, or flowers. If the recruits or Sailors who are helping in the Visitors Center see any of those items, you will be asked to take them back to your vehicle or to leave them in the Visitors Center, so save them for the hotel. If you were to make it into the Drill Hall with a sign, it would be so sad if your sign were to cause one or more other loved ones to miss seeing their new Sailor due to your sign.

The following rules apply upon entering RTC:
(Please leave items in your hotel room if they are not permitted on RTC or in your vehicle if they are not permitted in the Drill Hall.)

MULTIPLE SEARCHES POSSIBLE: Every person, bag, and vehicle on the base is subject to search. Metal detectors and other security devices are in use on board Recruit Training Command. Expect some delay at the security checkpoints. 

  • ITEMS PERMITTED INTO GRADUATION CEREMONY: Small bag/personal item (purse, satchel, etc…), small diaper bag, small camera bag, and personal wheelchair or walker. Strollers and car seats are allowed but discouraged due to space limitations (you may leave them in your car).
  • ITEMS NOT PERMITTED INTO GRADUATION CEREMONY: Large bags, backpacks, luggage, alcohol, illegal drugs, knives or weapons, posters, signs, banners, gift bags of any size, or flowers. Anyone found with alcohol, illegal drugs, knives or weapons will have the item confiscated and will NOT be permitted to enter.

NO WEAPONS! Weapons possession on federal installations is highly regulated and those in violation are subject to arrest and prosecution. (Do not have them on your person or in your vehicle.)

There are items for sale before PIR if you arrive early enough to check them out. You will need cash to make these purchases. Items include, but are not limited to, donuts and coffee, ship coins, calendars that have a group photo of the division for $10, and flags. There are limited quantities of some items and they may sell out early.

Camera graphicsWhen you get in the Drill Hall take some practice shots with your camera to get the best pics for the lighting you have and your pics will turn out much better. You can take photos and videos within the Drill Hall.

Once Liberty is called everyone will have about 20 minutes for hugs and meeting up with their new Sailors and then EVERYONE will be asked to clear the Drill Hall. New Sailors who will be staying in GL for "A" School or training will return to their Ships and those who will be flying out to "A" School or training will be able to leave the Drill Hall with loved ones for Liberty in most cases. If there is an exception to this for your Sailor, your Sailor will let you know. Be sure that your new Sailor has provided you with the flight details BEFORE leaving for Liberty if s/he is flying out.

If you are able to adopt a Sailor who is alone for the day, please do so. You will have to work with your recruit to find out if s/he has a shipmate who will be alone in order to set this up. Be sure to loan the new Sailor a cell phone or charger so s/he will be able to talk to his/her loved ones and if you have an extra laptop, allowing him/her to have some computer time would be nice as well. Also, don't forget to hug and congratulate a Sailor whose family couldn't show up. (One mom who was not able to attend PIR met another mom on N4M with a son in the same division as her son. She was able to send a few things to the second mom ahead of PIR. The second mom was able to pass them on to him since the two Sailors were both staying at GL after PIR as well as adopting him for the weekend.)

All new Sailors must have a Liberty Buddy during Liberty PIR weekend. That "Buddy" can be any adult (you, for instance, if you are an adult) or another Sailor. Remember that if you plan to send your Sailor back to RTC or TSC on public transportation rather than accompanying him/her and make sure that there is at least one other Sailor also traveling with him/her.

The raising and lowering of the National Ensign, the American flag and organization flags is known as Colors. At RTC and Naval Station Great Lakes this is at 0800 each morning and each evening is at sunset, so the time varies depending on the season. All uniformed personnel not under cover must stand at attention and salute during colors; everyone else must also stop, face the direction of the flag or the music if the flag pole is not visible, and be respectful. Be aware that if you are on board RTC or Naval Station Great Lakes or other military base at Colors that you must stop what you are doing and face the flag. If you are in a vehicle, you will safely stop where you are. You may want to put on your emergency flashers and roll down a window slightly so that you can hear when the music ends. This may affect you PIR weekend.

 If your Sailor flies out to "A" School or training, s/he will have Liberty from about 10:30 am when Liberty is called following PIR until sometime in the evening (usually around 8 to 9 pm, but it could be earlier--s/he will know the time) and s/he will need to be back at RTC about a half hour before Liberty expires to be certain to get back to the ship on time. Remember that many Sailors will be returning to RTC and you must drop them off on RTC, so you should allow extra time for long lines just as you did in the morning. Everyone in the car must have a ticket and proper ID to enter RTC. You can drop your Sailor off in the parking area near the Chapel. If your Sailor has watch at some point during the day, you will need to return him/her to RTC in time to be back to the ship for it and then pick him/her up afterwards if there is still time remaining before Liberty expires.

Only your Sailor will know his/her flight arrangements for certain and even Sailors going to the same "A" School could be on different flights or fly from different airports depending on flight availability. Your Sailor will fly out of O’Hare International Airport (ORD)Midway International Airport (MDW), or Milwaukee County’s General Mitchell International Airport--MKE (rare, but it does happen at times). Once in a while flight availability issues cause a Sailor to fly out on Sunday instead of Saturday (This has happened at times for some flying to Pensacola due to the large number of Sailors flying to Pensacola and a few times for Sailors flying to other locations.), but you wouldn't know this until PIR (or possibly when you get the "I'm a Sailor!" call if you get that on Wednesday or Thursday), so be flexible if you can. S/He will let you know what airport s/he will fly out of and when so you can meet him/her at the airport and spend time with him/her before his/her flight and give him/her his/her cell phone charger, laptop or iPad and charger, a few snacks, and other things that will fit in his/her black backpack. Favorite underwear are wanted by most since the guys are ready to be out of their "tighty whities" and the gals are ready to be out of their "Granny panties" by this time (they may also want their favorite bras). Your Sailor will not be able to wear civilian clothes except to sleep in for several weeks so send clothing later. Some also want cotton swabs (Q-Tips) since these are not permitted at RTC. Take two or three quart sized ziplock baggies in case your Sailor has any liquids (such as shampoo) in his/her seabag that will be checked. This will help to prevent any messes. You can take a black backpack or a small black duffel bag and have your Sailor check it or his/her black backpack from RTC and use the other one for a carry-on, but remember that your Sailor will need to be able to carry everything once s/he is at his/her destination so it is better to avoid an extra bag if possible since s/he will already be checking his/her seabag and garment bag and would have to pay for any additional checked bags.

A large number of Sailors are taken to the airports at the same time in buses from RTC that make the trip between RTC and airports every few hours. The Sailors know which bus they are to be on and can tell you that following PIR. Some may arrive as early as 1 am and some as late as 6 am regardless of when their flights are. Once the Sailors are at the airport, a USO representative will divide them into groups based on their destinations and give them instructions. Some flights will be within an hour or so of arrival and some could be late in the afternoon or evening, so some may be at the airport for a short time and some may be there for several hours. Some meet at the USO, while others choose another spot. Be sure your Sailor has a calling card so s/he can call you at the airport if you miss each other so you can meet up before the flight. Once your Sailor has his/her boarding pass, you can go with your Sailor or USO representative to the airline counter to get a courtesy/guest/gate pass (sometimes called a companion pass) so you can wait with him/her until his/her flight--you will need photo ID. Some airlines do not allow minors to accompany the Sailor to the Gate and others require ID for minors who will accompany the Sailor, similar to what would be accepted at RTC, even though minors who are flying do not require ID, so be prepared for either situation. Also, be aware that the gate passes may be limited to immediate family members only in accordance with TSA regulations. A fiancée/fiancé is usually permitted to obtain a gate pass, but a girlfriend/boyfriend may be denied one. You may go through a different TSA checkpoint than your Sailor to get to the gate, so be sure you know the gate number. (We have been hearing that the new Sailors must provide the names of those who will be meeting them at the airport, but we do not know how that list is used.) Some Sailors are told they are not to leave the airport while waiting for their flight even if there are several hours before the flight and others have been allowed to leave the airport as long as they return no later than 2 hours before the flight (most plan to arrive back 2 1/2 hours before the flight to allow for any problems or for traffic), so check with those giving instructions at the airport and don't go through Security if your Sailor is able to leave until your Sailor has to be back for his/her flight. If your Sailor has several hours until his/her flight, s/he may not have to go to the gate for a while and may be able to leave his/her things at the USO and spend time with you within the airport or away from the airport; this is especially good to know if some in the party may not be able to obtain a gate pass. Remember to keep OPSEC and PERSEC in mind to help keep our Sailors safe and do not post arrival or departure times or specific flight details until after it has already happened and your Sailor and his/her shipmates are safely at their next destinations.

Note: There may be times that  you may not be able to get a gate pass to accompany your Sailor due to increased security or due to already long lines for passengers to go through the TSA Security Check, so plan to meet your Sailor at a place outside of the Security Checkpoint so that you can give your Sailor the things for his/her carry on.

The USO at O’Hare International Airport is located on the Mezzanine Level OUTSIDE of the security checkpoint in Terminal 2 above the Delta Airlines Ticket counter so anyone can access it. Sailors arrive by bus at Terminal 2 and are dropped off at door 2A and meet up with a USO representative, so you can go to the USO for more information and assistance. The USO at Midway International Airport is located INSIDE of the secured area past the security checkpoint in Concourse C near the gate area so you must have a boarding pass or courtesy/guest/gate pass to get beyond the TSA security checkpoint. The USO at General Mitchell International Airport is located INSIDE of the secured area past the security checkpoint on Concourse D across from Gate D30 and you must have a boarding pass or courtesy/guest/gate pass to get beyond the TSA security checkpoint. You must be current military, retired military, or a dependent to go into the USO, but you can still meet your Sailor there and some family members have been able to enter if the USO was not very busy. Some have been told to eat breakfast at the Hilton since it's connected to the airport; don't do that unless you are willing to spend around $25 per person for a buffet. There are less expensive options at the airport.

See Chipmunk 's discussion,  What PIR weekend may be like for those flying out of GL, for more information.

Arrive the day before PIR and go to Sarge's Meet and Greet from 5 pm to 10 pm at the Lakehurst Event Center (go to to RSVP). Plan to leave late Saturday or on Sunday to have the most time with your Sailor when PIR is on Friday. Those flying to Pensacola have had early Sunday flights more often than those going to any other location. The number of "A" Schools in Florida would account for that. Most going to Pensacola will be on flights that depart on Saturday and some may depart on Sunday. If your Sailor will be going to Pensacola for "A" School or training, plan to leave late Sunday or Monday if you are able to do so. If your Sailor will be flying to another location, then plan to leave late Saturday or on Sunday since it is rare for there to be flight availability issues for other locations. In 2019, all PIR's will be on Friday except for Thanksgiving-11/28/2019 (PIR will be on Wednesday, 11/27/2019--flights will be on Friday; plan to leave late Friday or on Saturday).

If PIR falls on a holiday weekend, RTC will post on their facebook page if there are to be any changes in the typical flight arrangements for the Sailors; for example, those graduating on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving usually fly out on the Friday after Thanksgiving rather than on Thanksgiving Day. Typically, the only federal holidays that the new Sailors do not fly out on are Thanksgiving and Christmas, so plan on your Sailor flying out the day after PIR.

About a week before PIR send your recruit an index card to write down the flight details and then s/he can give it to you after PIR. Sailors or loved ones have gotten so excited that they have gotten details confused so this may prevent that.

If you want to put something on the index card, you could put the following:

Please fill this out when you get your final orders and then give it to us at PIR. Do not mail it.

Name of Airport:

Approximate arrival time at airport:

Date and time of flight:


Flight number:

Gate number:

Best place to meet (if known; otherwise, we'll meet at the USO):

Note:  Your Sailor most likely will be responsible for arranging and paying for transportation from the airport s/he flies into to his/her new command, "A" School in this case. (Some have been able to be reimbursed for the cab fare, so remind him/her to get a receipt.) Often several Sailors arrive around the same time and share a shuttle or taxi. S/He should check at the USO at the airport because they can usually suggest the best options. (You can also check in the group for your Sailor's "A" School and see how others handled this and let your Sailor know.) It will be that way from now on although sometimes a sponsor will meet the Sailor upon transferring to a new duty station.

If your Sailor stays in GL, you will have a short time with him/her (15 minutes or less) following PIR and then s/he will return to his/her ship to be transported to the Training Support Center Great Lakes (TSC). Some loved ones return to the hotel to wait on the call or go out to eat. Others wait in Building 1326 at RTC Recreation Center located next to the NEX. S/He will call you after s/he checks in at the TSC, which can take an hour for Sailors from a small TG to around 3-5 hours for Sailors from a large TG. Your Sailor will be marched out to the sidewalk in front of the Visitors Center by the main gate at TSC. This is NOT the same one you went to for PIR. You will meet up with your Sailor there. Your Sailor will have Liberty until Liberty expires that Sunday night at approx 10 pm, but you must drop him/her off at least 30 minutes before, to give him/her time to get to his/her barracks. S/He will be able to use his/her cell phone once s/he has left RTC. Have him/her bring his/her black backpack so s/he can take things back with him/her, such as cell phone charger, laptop or iPad and charger, other electronics, and a few clothes--your Sailor will not be able to wear civilian clothes except for sleeping for several weeks. Favorite underwear are wanted by most since the guys are ready to be out of their "tighty whities" and the gals are ready to be out of their "Granny panties" by this time (they may also want their favorite bras). Some also want cotton swabs (Q-Tips) since these are not permitted at RTC. Hangers for hanging items is also a common request. You will only be able to get on the main part of the base if your Sailor is with you or if you or someone in the vehicle has a valid military ID. You will drop your Sailor off at the Visitors Center where you picked him/her up. Please ensure that your Sailor is returned on time and allow enough time for long lines at Gate 1.

If you are staying at the Gateway Inn and Suites or the Navy Lodge, your Sailor will have to be with a guest at the hotel when entering the hotel and anytime s/he is in the halls. If you arrive on Wednesday, the Navy Lodge has a manager's dinner for guests which is nice, in the lobby; they have had meatballs, pasta salad, fruit desserts, rolls, cheese board, and beverages in the past. Sailors staying GL for "A" School or training must have a deviation chit to visit these hotels after PIR weekend; it is not needed PIR weekend. Deviation chits are only authorized for visiting a spouse or family member.

Liberty rules for those who are staying in Great Lakes at the TSC can be found in!/notes/266748330007800/.

Arrive the day before PIR and go to Sarge's Meet and Greet from 5 pm to 10 pm at the Lakehurst Event Center (go to to RSVP). Plan to leave late Sunday or on Monday to have the most time with your Sailor. If PIR falls on a holiday weekend, your Sailor will have daytime Liberty each day of the holiday weekend, so plan to leave late on the last day of the weekend or on the following day to spend the most time with your new Sailor. Federal holidays in 2021 that will result in extra time with your Sailor are: Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr.-01/18/2021, President's Day-02/15/2021, Memorial Day-05/31/2021, Independence Day observed-07/05/2021, Labor Day-09/06/2021, Columbus Day-10/11/2021, Thanksgiving-11/25/2021 (PIR will be on Wednesday, 11/24/2021).

Two groups you will want to check out if your Sailor will stay in GL are Great Lakes A School Q&A and GL A-school moms. You can also check out the Training Support Center (TSC) Great Lakes Facebook Page.

If you don’t know where your Sailor will go for training, go to Ratings, A School Locations, and Links to Groups.

If your Sailor has PIR during the holiday stand down around Christmas and New Year's Day at the "A" Schools, the new Sailors typically must check in at the "A" School as above before taking leave. This is the only time that Sailors can take leave prior to the end of "A" School and the Sailors are permitted to go "in the hole" for leave. Your recruit will get details about this at BC and/or at "A" School after check-in. You may have to help your Sailor with travel arrangements and then let the new command know. Some commands permit the new Sailors to take leave then, but others do not. Your Sailor may not know if s/he is eligible for leave until after checking in at "A" School. Do not expect your Sailor to be able to have leave and be pleasantly surprised if s/he is able to spend part of the holiday with you.

The above information is provided by lemonelephant, the mom of a retired Sailor.

Last updated 12/22/2020


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Comment by lemonelephant on August 17, 2019 at 3:06pm

You are very welcome.

Comment by Rose of OH on August 17, 2019 at 2:53pm

Thanks for confirming that lemonelephant. 

Comment by lemonelephant on August 16, 2019 at 4:29pm

Rose of OH, yes, that info is still correct.

Comment by Rose of OH on August 16, 2019 at 3:41pm

Good to know for PIR liberty time. Our sailors CAN NOT leave the hotel room unless they are in uniform--even to swim in the hotel pool. That being said, it looks like their Navy-issued PT wear is considered their uniform, too. 

I am assuming the information below is still up to date: 

"If you plan to swim as part of the weekend activities, be sure your Sailor knows this and has his/her PT gear before leaving RTC since Graduating Sailors must remain in their complete uniform while on liberty.You may want to take a set of comfy clothes (T-shirt and PJ bottoms, for example) for your Sailor to change into and wear while in the hotel room. Remember that s/he cannot leave the hotel room in those."

Comment by lemonelephant on November 8, 2018 at 7:32am

I figured that one out. :o) 

N4M was new the spring my son went to BC and I didn't find it until after PIR, so we just had the info in the form letter, which was a single page front and back brochure, and what I found on the RTC's website. We made it, but it would have been easier knowing a few things ahead of time.

Comment by Smoothsailing on November 8, 2018 at 7:26am

What I mean to say was compilation however complication is rather appropriate too. Leaving for PIR later tonight and I don’t want to forget anything. I have no idea how people do this without N4M. 

Comment by lemonelephant on November 8, 2018 at 6:46am

Smoothsailing, you are very welcome.

Comment by Smoothsailing on November 7, 2018 at 11:39pm

Excellent complication above. Thank you!

Comment by lemonelephant on August 31, 2018 at 7:07pm

ArtilleryCorporal, yes, she can have a manicure and pedicure--only neutral shades for polish.

Grooming Standards: Nails

b.  Women.  Fingernails shall not exceed 1/4 inch measured from the fingertip.  They shall be kept clean. Nail polish may be worn, but colors shall be conservative and complement the skin tone.  French and American manicures (white and off-white tips with neutral base color ONLY) are authorized. 

Comment by ArtilleryCorporal on August 31, 2018 at 6:30pm

So, guys, I have a question? My wife wants to get her nails done both feet and hands. Is that at all possible? I cannot see a reason why not but I want to make sure I am covering my bases. I do not want her to get in trouble.

Comment by lemonelephant on July 9, 2018 at 12:51am

Lulubugg, you are very welcome. I am glad to help.

Comment by Lulubugg on July 9, 2018 at 12:43am

 Great information and thank you ☺️ for all you do!

 It’s a lot of information I’ll continue to read it tomorrow 

Comment by lemonelephant on June 20, 2018 at 11:18pm

3boysmom, it's up to you. O'Hare is closer to GL, but the drive from Midway is usually less due to traffic. Some have had better rates into one over the other and some have found better fares into and out of Milwaukee County’s General Mitchell International Airport. Check the rates for each of them and check which one is served by your preferred airport at your starting point. See the info in Saving Money PIR Weekend as well.

Comment by 3boysmom on June 20, 2018 at 10:43pm

Is it better to fly into Ohare or Midway airport?

Comment by lemonelephant on May 19, 2016 at 11:38pm

Momship12, your new Sailor will already have a garment bag, a duffel bag. and a backpack to carry. Don't add another piece of luggage that he would need to check and pay for. He has the black backpack and will be able to put his things in that as long as he knows to plan for that. You will just have to see what happens as far as gate passes when you meet your Sailor.

Comment by Momship12 on May 19, 2016 at 11:22pm
Can A new sailor take a rollaway suitcase with him at the airport in Chicago to Pensacola Florida? I just heard that the TSA are not issuing gate passes? Has anybody heard that? Can I give him his electronics in his rollaway suitcase or do I need to go out and buy a black backpack
Comment by lemonelephant on March 28, 2016 at 8:52pm
Lisa C., your Sailor will be in dress blues on the day of PIR. They will switch over to dress whites the following week at GL. If your Sailor flies out, you may want to skip Six Flags. If he has ATT at GL, then Six Flags on Saturday or Sunday is doable, but not on Friday. He will be in his Navy Service Uniform (NSU, AKA peanut butters).
Comment by Lisa C. on March 27, 2016 at 9:13pm
I have a question about sailors having to remind in uniform during liberty weekend. What uniform will his be? Dress whites, cammo blue, or something else. We are thinking of planning a day at Six Flags, and want him to be comfortable
Comment by lemonelephant on January 15, 2016 at 12:56pm

From the PAO on 01/14/2016:

In light of recent developments concerning specific states' driver's licenses no longer being accepted at military installations: For graduation purposes at Recruit Training Command, all states' driver's licenses are currently still being accepted as a valid proof of identification for accessing the base.

Comment by lemonelephant on January 7, 2016 at 11:43pm

Lauren, your son is mistaken. There is no Liberty until after PIR. The first time you will see your Sailor in person is in the Drill Hall on the day of PIR.

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