Great Lakes, Illinois – December 5, 2014
We headed out early on the morning of December 4, headed to Chicago. Our ultimate destination is Great Lakes, Illinois, to watch the Navy Boot Camp graduation.
We all made it to Dallas without any hiccups. That seems to be the exception rather than the norm with our travels lately. It was cloudy and rainy in Dallas, but it was not significant.
We arrived in Chicago at about 19:30. Several parts of the airport were sporting Christmas decorations.
We retrieved our luggage fairly quickly and moved on to the rental car bus. A few minutes later, we were at the Enterprise desk. We completed the paperwork and got into our minivan.
About 50 minutes later, we were in Waukegan, Illinois, to check-in to the Marriott.
We arrived around 21:00. As soon as we checked-in, we went to Chili’s for dinner, then back to the hotel for some sleep before graduation the next morning. The hotel was packed with other parents and family members there for Navy graduation.
At about 05:00 on December 5, Leslie, Hillary, and I headed out from the hotel. Our destination was the Great Lakes Naval Base to watch Tyler’s graduation from boot camp. Even though Lorraine was with us, Tyler could only have three invitees attend the ceremony. Lorraine was OK with that because she would see Tyler at the hotel after the ceremony. Later, she would go on to Rockford, Illinois to spend time with her sister, Arlene.
It was a good thing we left early because TomTom sent us on a bit of a wild goose chase. We recovered from the questionable directions and made it into the line of cars waiting to enter the base. The line was already several blocks long, but it moved reasonably quickly. We parked in a parking structure and walked to the field house. We found seats in the grandstands and waited for the ceremony to begin.
From our seats, I spotted a concession stand. I walked to it to get drinks for the three of us. Once there, I noticed they sold boot camp coins. I bought two to add to my coin collection in my office.
According to the program we received when we entered the field house, we would watch 1,007 young men and women become United States Navy sailors. Tyler was one of those.
When the ceremony began, it was hard to find Tyler in the crowd. When his division finally marched by, we saw him at the very rear. The division made it to their designated spot in the field house. That was the last time we had a good view of Tyler until the end of the ceremony. That was because the division was ordered by height. Of course, that placed Tyler at the very back. The service was very moving. It made us all feel very proud and patriotic.
Once the ceremony was over, Hillary ran down to greet Tyler! Leslie and I waited in the stands for them to come to us. When Tyler arrived, we both gave him a big hug. Then we had to take the necessary photos.
We all left the field house and walked to the Navy Exchange to wait for Tyler. He had to go get his belongings and check into his “A” school for culinary specialists. We ultimately found out the NEX was not the correct place to wait. Instead, we had to go to the visitor center. We did not pick him up until 16:00. That made it a very, very long day.
With Tyler in tow, it was to the hotel and dinner with our sailor!