I finally got around/time to try and get a bit of write-up done on Family Day/Graduation (sorry for the delay).
The time finally arrived...10 long weeks since I had seen Kyle, minimal contact - a few letters, a few calls and an occasional text message between us. I was SO eager to get to Columbus, GA last week to finally get to see what the Army had done to him, to hug him and tell him how much I loved him and how VERY Proud I was of him!
Wednesday, April 14 was designated as Family Day. This day started out at the barracks where Kyle lived while at Sand Hill (Ft Benning). OMG. This was absolutely awesome to see the Company come marching out from the bay singing "Drill Sargent, why don't you leave me alone? Why don't you let me go home?" Not sure if I can embed the video, if not I'll do a youtube linky for it.
So, the Company came out and I looked and looked at all the young, bald-headed men in 3rd Platoon. Where in the world was my son?? I could not find him for the life of me, amongst all the baldness & some wearing the BCGs. Finally. Finally, either I or his step-mom found him. I did not recognize him because he had his BCGs on! Captain Oliver talked about several things, then told the families the significance of the Berets, what each color stood for. When he talked of the black berets, the Soldiers bent over, pulled the berets out of their back (tucked into the belt) and put them on. They all stood back up at the same time. OMG. It was so awesome to see those young men in the black berets. What love and pride I felt for Kyle!
Also during the Family Day proceedings, there were certain young Soldiers recognized for their achievements during BCT and 5 Soldiers took the Oath of Citizenship. Isn't that awesome?? These young men becoming citizens of the US, going through all they did through basic. It's just great!
After all of that, Captain Oliver released the Soldiers to their families until 2030 that evening. I could not get off the bleachers fast enough to find Kyle! I did manage to not cry when hugging him, but lemme tell ya, I almost did. It was so good to see him! Everyone gave him hugs, we took more pictures, then he went up to his area to get everything that he needed, leaving just what he needed for the next days Graduation. We got everything except the large duffle bag into my car. He had a lot of stuff.
In several of Kyle's letters, he told me where he wanted to go eat, the stuff that he really missed. Our first stop for lunch was Red Lobster. Kyle ordered a spinach/crab dip for an appetizer, salad, and main meal was lobster tail, crab legs, shrimp, baked potato. When the salads came to the table, everyone began eating and I looked over at Kyle (sitting beside him) and he was shoveling the salad in pretty dang fast! I told him he could slow down, that he had more than 7 minutes to eat. LOL. The rest of the food came out and he did manage to eat that a little slower.
After Red Lobster, it was over to the ice cream shop, similar to Cold Stone here in the Raleigh area. He had some big ole cup of white chocolate ice cream with Reese's Pieces. The rest of the family had ice cream too, but I was too full to have any. After the ice cream, we headed to the mall to look around. Everywhere we went, there were strangers coming up to Kyle, thanking him for serving, shaking his hand, wishing him luck. It was very moving to see this happen. So, it's around 5pm by now and Kyle is ready to eat again. The rest of us are still so full, but it's about Kyle that day, so we ask, where do you want to go? Outback was the answer.
After supper, it was back to Sand Hill for Kyle and hotels for the rest of us. The next day was the big day! New post for Graduation so that this one isn't extremely long....it's already long now as it is and pictures have to be added. :)
This is C Company, 3rd Platoon. Kyle is 3rd row, 4th from the front.
The soldiers who became citizens of the US on 4/14.
Kyle and I.