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.

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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.


Public Display of Affection

In the Navy physical forms of affection such as hugs, kisses, and holding hands while in uniform are known as a "public display of affection" (PDA) and as such are forbidden.

There is one exception: families saying goodbye to a sailor before a deployment or greeting a sailor returning from deployment or long separation. Boot camp counts under this exception, with limits. One enthusiastic hug of greeting and a quick kiss are acceptable. French or extended kisses are not. Nor are extended hugs, hanging off your sailor, etc. Save it for the hotel room.

Hand-holding at any time is forbidden. There is a compromise, and I consider it to be a fairly romantic one. A sailor may offer his arm to his girlfriend/wife/mother, she lays her hand in the crook of his LEFT elbow in formal escort fashion. Likewise, a female sailor can take the RIGHT arm of her husband/boyfriend/father with her left hand. In a truely romantic gesture, men may lay their right hand over their lady's hand (to keep it warm, or for skin-to-skin contact). The sailor must ALWAYS have his right arm free to salute an officer or flag, should one show up.

Also, just because you aren't on base, don't assume they aren't looking. RDCs and other boot camp personnel also go to the mall, out to restaurants, to Chicago, etc, and they will be looking for new sailors breaking the rules. Some may actually be assigned this job in popular venues. Even if they run into the recruit by chance and are just out with their own family, they will report the new graduate. You aren't likely to see them because they will not be in uniform, but they will see you.

And no, they won't punish YOU. They will punish your sailor when s/he returns to barracks. The most common punishment is to have their liberty revoked the next day.

About uniforms

Your sailors will be wearing their dress whites on Friday. If you wear something dark colored, be sure to bring a lint brush or your recruit to "clean up" his or her blues. They're white polyester and pick up just about anything. If you are bringing a pet, bring one of those sticky-tape rollers to de-fur your sailor.

Friday is the day to do something clean. Whites show EVERYTHING. This is not the day to risk sitting in a roller coaster or going to an Italian eatery.  Try something laid back, clean and relaxed, like a movie.

On Saturday and Sunday they will be wearing their service uniforms, which is a khaki shirt with black slacks or skirt. This uniform is more forgiving and is a better choice for active stuff, hair appointments, pizza or other possibly messy accidents.

They will already have one or two ribbons. The first (red and yellow) ribbon is for being in the military during time of armed conflict. Many earn a navy-blue and green Marksman ribbon for accuracy during pistol training. Some may earn Sharpshooter or Expert, which are distinguished by a small letter (S or E) pinned on the ribbon.

Dress for the day
PIR is a formal military event. As such, please dress to show respect for your sailor's accomplishment (not every recruit makes it through boot camp)  and to the Navy for hosting the spectacular event. Your sailor will be wearing his best uniform, the equivalent of a suit and tie. There is no "dress code" but consider the situation. You don't have to wear formal clothes, but please, no micro-minis, no beat-up jeans or sweatshirts. When I went, most ladies wore slacks, denim slacks (dressy jeans) or skirts with sweaters or blouses. A few wore dresses. Sun-dresses are fine for spring and summer graduations.

Wear whatever shoes you prefer. If you are used to wearing heels, wear them, if you prefer flats or other shoes, those are fine as well. The walk is relatively short on sidewalks that are very well maintained. There is no need to wear "comfortable walking shoes." Most of your time on base you will be seated.

Come prepared for the weather, if you arrive early you may be waiting outside for a while. Watch weather forecasts and be prepared with whatever is appropriate, from sunglasses and sunscreen to raincoats and umbrellas.

Getting on base
There are two options for getting on base, driving your own car (you will need your parking pass) or take a shuttle (taxi) from your hotel to the front gate.

If you drive you will check in at the gate using your gate pass. You received the password to get your gate pass in the form letter your recruit sent the first week. This will be available to download and print out 11 days before graduation. Plan on getting to the base between 5:30 and 6:30 to get a place in line. From the gate, drive about 1/4 mile to the parking area, then go to the guest check-in. There you will need a government issued ID (drivers' license, state ID card or passport) for each guest, including children. (you can get children's IDs from your state for about $5) Then they will escort you as a group to MCPON Hall, where the PIR ceremony will take place.

Your gate pass is also good Saturday and Sunday to pick up and drop off your sailor. You are allowed to go as far as the end of the parking lot used for PIR parking.

If you choose to take a shuttle, the shuttle will drop you off just inside the gate, at the taxi/shuttle staging area. This is also where you can catch a taxi at any time during PIR weekend. From the staging area, check in at the front gate. From there you can walk to MCPON Hall, which is the first building on the left.

If you need assistance, there are recruits waiting with wheelchairs or other physical assistance to get
you to MCPON Hall, and special seating areas - right up front. Only one guest can accompany a disabled person in that seating area.

When you leave, if you took a shuttle, you can either take the shuttle back to your hotel or walk one block to the train station and take the train to Chicago. You can buy weekend (3-day) train passes for $7 each. This is an inexpensive option, considering the cost of parking in Chicago is about $20 for each location.

What if more than four people want to attend my sailor's PIR?
Each recruit gets four adults (age 12 and older) at the ceremony, guaranteed. Children are "free," two per adult. At large ceremonies (12 or more divisions graduating) getting additional guests in is almost impossible. For smaller ceremonies (6-10 divisions) it is easy to get a few (or even a lot of) extra guests in.

At my son's graduation there were nine divisions, and there were whole bleacher sections empty. No one was being held outside.

Grad and Go
First you need to know if they will be "grad and go" (GnG). GnG grads are scheduled to leave for their A-school as soon as they graduate. Most GnG graduates are in the first two divisions in a group, though some individuals from other divisions may be GnG. They may be informed of their GnG status as early as the first week, others may not be told until the day before PIR.

Some GnG sailors may have to leave immediately after the ceremony, getting only a short time with their families. For those who know ahead that their sailor will leave Friday, some route their trip home to stay for a few days at their sailor's A-school location for a visit there.

Other GnG grads will leave on Saturday. If this is the case, they can have liberty on Friday.

Families of GnG sailors can meet their sailor at the USO at the airport to hang out together until it is time for their flight. You can give them their cell phones and other personal electronics (mp3 players, handheld game systems or laptop computers) at that time.

For those who are not GnG, sorry, you will not be able to give your sailor his or her electronics, or anything else. New graduates are not allowed to bring anything back to barracks that is not issued by the Navy.

GnG sailors who will got to school at Great Lakes will spend about 3-5 hours transferring "across the street" to their school at the NTC (Naval Training Center), then will get liberty the rest of the weekend. For the most part they will have to live by the same rules as those who are still at the RTC (Recruit Training Center) but slightly relaxed.

Sailors will be released directly from the PIR ceremony. However, many will want to return to barracks, usually to get something s/he wants to give you, such as their portraits or divisions t-shirts. This sometimes takes as long as a half hour, so I recommend that you ask your sailor to give it to you Saturday morning, when you won't lose all that time together.

Sailors will NOT be allowed to stay with you at night. Each night they will have a curfew, which depends on the whims of their RDCs and can change each night. They have to be in their barracks and ready for inspection no later than one minute before curfew. Drop your sailors off AT LEAST a half-hour before curfew is up. Plan for 1 hour early, just in case there is bad traffic or some other unexpected delay. It is a 15 minute walk from the gates to barracks. Don't leave anything to chance. If they are late by even 10 seconds they may lose their liberty the next day.

Liberty and leave are two different things. In civilian terms, liberty is a weekend off, while leave is vacation, charged against the sailor Like civilian vacation time leave is requested ahead of time (usually 2 months before). Sailors may not take leave until they have completed A school.

What to do with your sailor PIR weekend

Your sailors will be required to stay within 50 miles of RTC Great Lakes. Don't worry, there is a lot to do in the area.

All non GnG sailors get three days, including Friday, Saturday and Sunday.. Most will have to stand watch once. If they have morning watch they will be released late, if they have mid-day watch they will have to return to RTC, then can go out again when their watch is over. If they have evening watch grads will have to return early.

If you don't have enough time to go anywhere before or after watch, or if you arrive before s/he has to walk to barracks, you can hang out with your sailor at Ricky Heaven (just inside RTC gates), which has a food court, arcade, lounge and a convenience store (with souveneir items available).

Let your sailor pick his/her own activities for PIR. They have been told what to do (even when to go to the bathroom) for 9 weeks. They will want to make their own decisions for a few days. Send your sailor a list of options and tell them to pick three, one for each day. It can include:

*Six Flags Amusement and Hurricane Harbor Water Park (your sailor will need to purchase an official Navy swimsuit at the big NEX, they are not allowed to wear civilian swimsuits)
*Gurnee Mills Mall (includes a theater, a Rainforest Cafe and more)
*Downtown Chicago/Navy Pier/Imax Theater
*Medieval Times (a medieval themed dinner theater with activities)
*Hang out at the hotel and relax, sleep and take long hot showers
*Salon and/or spa: for female sailors, many of them want to go to a spa and hair salon to repair the damage boot camp does to hair, nails and complexion.

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Replies to This Discussion

Arwen - Thanks so much for all of this information. You've already answered most of my questions, but I do have one more. I thought I read somewhere that our sailors can purchase tickets ahead of time to some of the places they might want to visit over the weekend. I'm guessing that might mean Six Flags, the museums, maybe even train passes. If that's possible will they also be able to purchase tickets for our entire family?

Thanks from all of us for all of your help!
I had not heard that they can purchase these things in advance. I made all the arrangements for my son's weekend, he didn't even know his options until I told him what there is.
My boyfriend said that they are wearing their dress whites....does it change often?
Also, he is GnG and going to school at the Great Lakes, will he definitely get libery of some kind? Either get to stay gone til Sunday or have to come back every night? For some reason he thinks he isn't going to be able to leave base at all and that we are going to have to come see him every day.
They change twice a year. I thought it was Memorial Day, but I guess they're making the change a few weeks earlier than the information I have.
My son's both said they are wearing dress whites. Also, if your division is grad n go, and their A school is in GL, there is a chance that you will get your Sailor for the entire weekend without taking him back to the base until Sunday. They do have to call in to "muster". Once they check into their A school then they are allowed to have electronics, Your Sailor will know exactly what they can and cannot do or have. They get briefed before Liberty and none of them want to mess up.
thank you :) I am so out of the loop because the letters and occasional calls aren't enough since he is always getting information. He does Battlestations tonight so I hope my call tomorrow will have more information.
Thanks for all the info - do you really mean that we need to be at the base by 6:30 am for a 9:00 am PIR?
haha I said that same thing. I wont even get there until like midnight so Im gonna get like no sleep!
Only if you are driving. It can take upward of 90 minutes to go through the two levels of security (the gate and the parking area). Each car is inspected, and each person in the car must provide ID. You park, go to another area, where you present your IDs again, then they lead the group to MCPON Hall. All of this takes time, and when several hundred cars are trying to get in, the line of cars can back up for a mile or more.

Because this is such a small group, 7:15 may be okay. There won't be as many people trying to get in. I heard nightmare stories about the wait for one group in which there were 17 divisions last year.

Taking a shuttle and walking through the gate takes much less time, 10-30 minutes, at most. I arrived at the gate at 8:15 and was seated by 8:30. Unfortunately by then the vendors (division t-shirts, portraits, etc) were gone.

The only vendor who stays around is the "Navy ring" (like a class ring) vendor, who moves her kiosk to the gift shop (between the gate and the parking area).


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