I did this write up for my sons PIR group and one of the vetran moms asked me to share. Guess I am a vetran mom now too. Boy that seems weird! My son was in a performing division so alot of what I say is related to that. Hope you are all getting ready to hug your sailors!
Wow! What a weekend! I have so much to share that I don’t even know how to start :) The weekend was full of so much emotion for me! It ranged from extreme happiness to extreme sadness with everything else in between. Here are my tips for anyone that has PIR coming up: I highly recommend Navy Lodge. It was incredibly reasonable, clean, and up-to-date. I wasn’t expecting it to be so nice. I highly recommend Sarge’s meet and greet. It was so great to meet the ladies that got me through the 8 weeks of boot camp and to share our stories. Sarge had some great tips that really helped to prepare us for the PIR and the flight out to A school. I am not a “party goer” so I was really hesitant about going but it was awesome! I was really disappointed with our seat at PIR. We sat on the deck level right in the middle in front of the 925 flag. Unfortunately the 925 division never did stand directly in front of us and there was a railing that got in the way of taking any picture of the band while they were playing. I don’t know if they set up the division signs the same way every time but if the ceremony is the same every time and you have a performer, I would suggest sitting in the stands that are closer to the door where you walk in or on the second level across from the American Flag. This is where the performing division can be seen best. My sailor after PIR. We got to be with our son from around 10:45 am until 7:30 pm. I really appreciated the advice I saw someone about not being surprised if your sailor acts different. It helped but still didn’t prepare me for how different my son acted at first. He would apologize for everything, was very tentative, and lacked confidence, which aren’t traits of my son. At one point, he even asked if it was ok for him to speak loudly in the hotel room! Eventually by the end of the day on Friday he acted much better. He seemed very overwhelmed by everything so we just tried to take it slow and didn’t force him to make any decisions. The best time we had was just sitting in the hotel room, looking through Facebook and playing music for him. That seemed to bring him back to life. Looking back, I wish we would have just done more of that. Now that he is at A school he is really starting to behave more like himself. Flight out to A school. If at all possible, please be sure to meet your sailor on Saturday at the airport before they fly out. This was precious time and I wouldn’t change a moment even though we did have to wake up at 2:00 AM! We arrived before our son did and had plenty of time to give him his things. There was someone from the USO that got the sailors organized and over to check in (For Midway I guess they always fly out of Air Trans). The families stand behind the sailors in the check in line and then the sailors come back and stand with you to get your gate passes. When the sailor found out that they could have their families at the airport there was a mad rush to the pay phones. I don’t think very many of them knew it was an option. We gave as many sailors as we could our cell phones so they could call quickly and not have to use the pay phones. One poor sailor called her mom who lived in the area and asked her to come. The mom refused because she had “things to do”. I wish I could have had the time with my son that this mother gave up with her daughter but I guess everyone is different. I would suggest writing to your sailor now and telling them to pass the word about the option of families coming on Saturday to the airport. It broke my heart to see so many without their families and trying to organize it over the phone while they were there. Rental Car We rented from Rent a Wreck. It was a bit of a pain because they have to pick you up since their office is about 5 minutes away from the airport. However, they were the cheapest we could find at Midway. We were able to get a Dodge Durago to fit 7 for $203 for 3 days. Everywhere else we looked the price was double. Just be aware that they don’t open until 7AM so if you have an early flight they won’t be an option since you can’t drop off the vehicle until then. Hotel for Saturday night I would suggest getting a hotel close to the airport for Saturday night if you have a sailor flying out on Saturday. This will save you from driving all the way back to Great Lakes on Saturday only to turn around and drive all the way back to the airport on Sunday. I wish I would have thought of this sooner. Sleep Don’t expect to get much. The latest we ever slept in the entire time we were there was 3AM and this was the day we flew out. I wish now that we would have had a later flight out on Sunday. I have never been so tired in my life. If you work, I would suggest taking the day after you get home off just so you can catch up on sleep.
Thank You so much for this!!! I can feel the emotions already and I still have a few weeks to go..
Thank you so much for writing about your experiences.
Gate passes were a huge welcome surprise for me. I highly recc. them. Plan ahead with ID for all in your party, especially younger siblings/children. Have cameras ready too for when they walk down the ramp to the plane. Our first sailor son even stopped at the bottom and turned around to wave "good-bye".( perfect mom photo-op:)
I discovered with our other Navy son that we could ask for airport passes (families of active military) and walk with and wait with him at the gate. First time I was asked if I wanted a gates pass, I had tears flowing as I nodded yes. After he boarded, I saw his uniform bag and sea bag go up the baggage belt into the plane. Tears really flowed then. He has been home once, and we had the same experience the 2nd time he left.
Now to work on getting emotions in check for Navy son #2's PIR next month.
What a wonderful story navymom284! It brought tears to my eyes. I remember my son walking to the plane very vividly!
Yep tons of emotion for me that's for sure! I hope you have a wonderful experience at PIR. Seeing them definately makes all the up and downs worth it!