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Army Graduation Ceremonies

As I am sitting down to write this, it occurred to me that I probably should have written it as soon as I came home from each graduation rather than waiting more than a year. Of course, I can only give you insight into the graduations I have attended. If your ceremonies are different, please email me so I can include the information.

Basic/AIT (OSUT) for Infantry

My husband attended OSUT, which is basic and AIT all rolled into one for infantry soldiers at Ft. Benning. The day before graduation, they have a “turning blue” ceremony. This is when the soldiers are presented with their blue cord that signifies that they are infantry. For me, it meant I was able to see my husband for the first time in months.

First, we were all brought inside and were treated to a speech by their commander and shown a short video. He also taught everyone how to say “hooah” and when it was appropriate to say it – and we were tested on it.

During my husband’s ceremony, it was raining, so it was moved inside and broken down to companies. There was a short speech given and Army wives, families and other attendees were invited to come up on stage and attach our soldier’s cord. I was very proud that my husband asked me to do the honor and THRILLED to be face to face with him again.

If your soldier does not have anyone at this ceremony, the DS will put the cord on for him. The ceremony as a whole was very short and he was then released for the afternoon. Of course, the first thing he wanted was food from a real restaurant so we promptly headed out to eat. He was in uniform and I enjoyed watching people come up to him to say thanks.

The next day was graduation. If your soldier is graduating from Ft Benning, be prepared for any type of weather. I was born and raised in Georgia and still live here and the weather is unpredictable at best. As I am writing this, it is in the 20s. Just last week it was 80 degrees. In Georgia, you just never know. If it is cold, they will have blankets that will be passed out before the ceremony starts but only about 10% of the people there will actually end up with one. Keep in mind you will be sitting on metal bleachers. Hot or cold, the bleachers will reflect that so be prepared with something to sit on during the graduation.

I’ll have to admit that I was expecting graduation to be kind of “boring” like it was the day before at the turning blue ceremony. Don’t get me wrong, I was very proud of my husband but there just wasn’t a lot of hoopla involved. But this ceremony was completely different. There were demonstrations on the field and the commander was speaking over the loud speaker about what each soldier was doing. Then they have an “attack” and they throw “grenades” etc. – lots of smoke on the field. Then “Bad to the Bone” starts to play over the loud speaker and the tanks come rolling onto the field and the good guys prevail. I thought it was awesome but then I’m a sucker for stuff like that!

Perhaps the most exciting part was when off in the distance on the opposite side of the field, you could see the soldiers – our soldiers – walking in formation toward the field. It took what seemed like forever for them to get there. They then went through some ceremonial things – saluting, about face, saying the creed, etc. – before they officially graduated.

There will be hundreds of soldiers on the field who all look the same with shaved heads in their Class A uniforms. I recommend either taking binoculars or a camera with a great zoom so you can locate your soldier. After the ceremony ended, we were invited to the field where they were allowed about fifteen minutes to take pictures, etc. The soldiers had another formation and then were released for the weekend.

My husband, however, was going to Airborne School. So rather than be released, he had to report to Airborne. Just FYI for all of you (it took us a while to figure this out), the airborne barracks are not on Sand Hill. They are on the main post – look for the jump towers. Also, inprocessing takes the better part of a day so don’t wait on your soldier to eat (as we did). He was finally released around 7:30 – 8:00 that night for the weekend.

I receive many emails asking how many people are allowed to attend graduation. The answer is however many you would like to bring with you to attend. This is a huge day in the life of your soldier and your family should be there to celebrate his achievement.

PLEASE NOTE: In August of 2006, I received an email from someone who attended graduation at Ft. Benning. The letter that was sent to families said graduation started at 10am but it actually started at 9am. Do yourself a favor and ARRIVE EARLY. Many families missed the ceremony.

Airborne Graduation

Some are lucky enough to get to see a jump for graduation. This happens if for some reason the soldiers were not able to get all of their jumps in during the week. Airborne graduation is considerably smaller and shorter that Basic/AIT grad. Again, there is a speaker and the guys recite a few things (including some cadences, which I’m also a sucker for!). Then the soldiers who have someone else who is airborne qualified in their family are asked to step forward. These soldiers have their airborne wings pinned on first. Just a note: the black hat (airborne instructor) does come by and ask what class you graduated from. Several anxious parents went up to pin their soldiers who were not airborne and were asked to sit back down. After this is complete, everyone is invited to pin their soldier. Technically, “blood wings” where they pierce the skin when you’re pinned are not allowed, but I can guarantee you some soldiers were given this honor anyway. They were released for the weekend after graduation.

My Experience Only…

Please know that this is only my experience at graduations. You may find ceremonies to be different and your soldier may have more or less free time after the ceremony. If at all possible, do what you can to attend their graduations. There is no way to describe the enormous sense of pride you will feel as they complete their first step in Army life.

About the author: Stacey is an Army wife of a soldier who joined in 2003. He has since been medically retired but she continues to provide information to Army wives and families to make their adjustment to the Army lifestyle easier. Connect with Stacey: Facebook Twitter Pinterest

{ 33 comments… add one }
  • Cynthia May 27, 2011, 3:34 am

    Hi Stacey,

    Thank you so much for making this website. It is a wealth of knowledge. I am so glad to read other stories from the wives. It is such an amazing but challenging lifestyle that is so hard to understand. Thank you!


  • Cindy January 4, 2012, 10:54 am

    Hi Stacey,

    I am deciding on when we should plan on flying home on Sunday– a 158pm flight or a 1030pm flight? My son is graduating in March and he gets 36 hours free time with us and don’t want to cut it short. He may be going into Airborne so then we may not see him until 730pm on March 2 (his graduation). What do you think?

    • Stacey January 5, 2012, 9:47 pm

      I’d opt for the later flight – I’d rather have extra time in the airport than have to leave early knowing he still had free time available.

      • Cindy January 5, 2012, 9:58 pm

        That is what I did– the 1020pm flight on Sunday.

  • Cindy January 4, 2012, 2:48 pm

    What time is the ceremony on the day of graduation?

    • Stacey January 5, 2012, 9:46 pm

      It’s generally at 9am or 10am for basic training…or at least those were the times when my husband was there. The letter from his unit should give specifics. You can also check the training website for specifics as well.
      Just noticed you were asking about airborne in another question. Here’s the info from the airborne site:

      Graduations are held at Airborne Walk/ Eubanks Field, directly east of the 250′ Towers on Main Post. In case of inclement weather during the week, graduation will be held on Fryar Drop Zone. The ceremony begins at 0900 (May-September) and 1100 (October-April) on the final Friday of the three week course. For any further questions, contact the Operations Section 1/507 PIR at (706) 545-6495 (DSN 835-6495) or 545-9994 (DSN 835-9994).

      • Cindy January 5, 2012, 10:00 pm

        Thanks. Yes, he may opt to do airbourne but he will be graduation on March 2 from basic and AIT training. What hotel would you recommend. I understand right outside the base is not a good area to stay.

        • Stacey January 5, 2012, 10:05 pm

          I assume he’s at Benning? If so, the area around post is not great. There are several hotels around exit 10 off of I-185. I know there’s a Hilton there. Anything in that area will be fine and it’s an easy drive back down I-185 to Benning.

          • Cindy January 6, 2012, 12:34 am

            Thank you!!

  • Kelly January 8, 2012, 6:09 pm

    Hi Stacey – Me and my husband are new at this and I can’t tell you how helpful your site has been. My husband will be graduating from OSUT on March 1st and 2nd of 2012 (Thursday and Friday) and he is not attending Airbourne school. Normally, I have heard that graduating soliders get 10 days leave time after their training but my SIT received a few weeks of Holiday Leave this Christmas (what a blessing) so this post-graduation leave was forfeited. My question is: can I expect the weekend after graduation to spend time with him, or will he have to report to his first duty station immediately on Saturday morning? I want to know how many nights to book the hotel for. I will be following him but he is going to head to his first post before me to get the housing set up. Thanks for your help in advance!

  • Cindy January 9, 2012, 10:17 am

    Stacey, We are arriving into Atlanta at about 930pm on March 1. His graduation ceremony is on the 2nd. I am assuming we are okay getting in that late and that there is nothing going on the day or night before the graduation ceremony.

  • Amy January 12, 2012, 4:37 am

    I am confused about something. My son just started basic training and will be there for the advanced training for infantry. Will he be graduating with the group for basic and then again for AIT? I can’t seem to get an answer to this question. I appreciate any information you can give me.


    • Stacey January 16, 2012, 12:50 pm

      Infantry soldiers go through OSUT (one station unit training) which means basic training and AIT are all together. At the end of AIT, he will have a “turning blue” ceremony where he will receive his infantry cord along with graduation. Usually, there is a family day around the same time basic graduation would have been (around 9-10 week mark) but it depends on the class.

      • Theresa September 14, 2012, 4:56 pm

        Thank you for this valuable information– My son is doing the OSUT at Benning– Good part is we also live in Georgia so we will go whenever we have the options to be there

  • Cindy January 16, 2012, 12:55 pm

    We are actually now arriving on Feb. 29. Family day is the 1st of March and then the 2nd is graduation and then we are leaving at 1020pm from Atlanta on the 2nd because he will be flying out on the 3rd to his base which is Fort Carson, CO. So happy about that. THanks

  • Leta April 17, 2012, 9:42 pm

    Cindy, thank you so much for creating this website. It has been MORE than helpful as my son had the information mailed to his dad who “didn’t get it”, so I’m winging it. Can you tell me what time we should arrive at the base for Family Day. I’m sure then I can the rest of the information I need for graduation when I see my son 🙂 Thank you in advance for sharing your story and any help you can give, God bless!!

  • Courtney August 14, 2012, 7:44 pm

    I’m so happy that I was able to read this. My family and I will be attending my husband’s graduation at Fort Benning. You’re experience is the kind of information I need to make our experience run a bit smoother. We’re super excited to be able to see him and ready to be a family once again. Thank you.

  • kate August 26, 2012, 10:28 pm

    My husband is at Fort Benning, Georgia and he is in Infantry too. I don’t expect graduation dates for awhile now and I have been looking around and can NOT find anything on how it works of getting out to Georgia. Obviously i know i will have to take a plane and travel out but is there any transport that the Army provides like a bus? Or do i need to figure out my own way from the airport to post? Also is there any hotel on base i can book or a place near by would be better? any info would be amazingly grateful… i am already stressing about this since i am the only one going to his graduation

  • Theresa September 14, 2012, 5:00 pm

    Question- I read online that supposedly when they report to Basic – around the 72 hour mark we should receive a short phone call with the address to mail things to –and that would be the last phone contact. It has been 72 hours plus–and no word-Should we be worried something did not work out on the reception days–or is the 72 hours just a figurative time (estimation)

  • Brittany February 24, 2014, 4:48 pm

    Hi! I had some questions regarding graduation! Please email back 🙂

  • Val June 9, 2014, 3:33 pm

    Hi Stacey,
    How early should we arrive for Ft Benning Basic/AIT graduation letter states it starts at 9:00 I am thinking be on the field by 8 is that to early?

    • Stacey Abler June 9, 2014, 8:41 pm

      I don’t think it is. It will enable you to get a great seat! 🙂 Have fun!

  • Brianna August 18, 2015, 10:03 pm

    After OSUT. when they go to airborne right after, but are released that night, will they get to stay overnights during that weekend or will they have to report back? Also during airborne, will they get weekends off?

    • Stacey Abler August 25, 2015, 8:26 pm

      When my husband went through, he had the weekend after OSUT off after he processed in at airborne (which took most of the day). As far as I remember he had weekends off in airborne but this was a long time ago (2004).

  • Marlo August 21, 2015, 10:07 am

    My son is in basic training now and after that will have infantry school. My question is will they have 2 separate graduations for basic training and infantry school.? We have been to a basic training graduation before and know what it consist of. Which graduation would you recommend?

    • Stacey Abler August 25, 2015, 8:23 pm

      For infantry, it’s all combined into one graduation.

  • Brittany November 12, 2015, 7:56 am

    Good Morning,
    My boyfriend is graduating from Fort Leonard Wood the first week of December at 9:00. Since our hotel is a few minutes from base, when do you think I should leave the hotel? And how long does security check in usually take? This is the first time going on a base and I know how important it is to be early and I don’t want to embarrass him.


  • Rameela March 16, 2016, 12:47 am

    Hi Britteney,

    My brother is graduating after a week from today, but i don’t have any idea of getting the ticket for the entrance for family day. So, if you have any idea would you please share it with me?
    Hope to hear from you soon.

    Thank you

  • Kayla Parker April 9, 2016, 6:33 pm

    Thank you so much! This has helped a lot. Even though I still got a lot of questions you answers a lot of them. My boyfriend went to basics on Feb 23 2016. His graduation date isn’t until June 10th 2016. He training at Fort Benning Georgia. If you would like to give me any advise or heads up on anything I would seriously appreciate it a lot. I really want to work this out with my solider.

    Thank you

  • kim O'Neal May 26, 2016, 4:23 pm

    Hi, I enjoyed your story! This is what I experienced this past weekend. My husband is also infantry on sand hill. He recently just had a two day pass to leave off post and report back by 8pm both nights. So I do see they have changed quite a bit. His family day was May 21-22 2016. The Families report to sand hill and sit on the bleachers Saturday morning at 8-9 am waiting on their solider. The soldiers march from all the way across the field and you can hear them chanting cadences lol!!! so if you want to record pull out your phones or cameras etc. They finally get to us in about 3 minutes and they stand at parade rest. That’s when their platoon leader starts to give instructions on your soldiers as far as what time they need to be back, no smoking nor drinking and no driving a vehicle period. They will yell a few more things out and say they are dismissed and that’s when everyone comes off the bleachers to find their love ones. We leave then they report back then the next day its the same minus the marching over the field they should give a time or call from personal cells telling you to pick them up. Once family day is over its time to say goodbye again!!! Which is super hard and you watch them go back into the barracks. you will not see your solider again until AIT is over which is another month! That’s where the actual ceremony takes place.

  • Nancy Feldman June 13, 2017, 11:09 am

    Stacey– terrific website.
    Question: my son has just begun OSUT (today, June 13). Like your husband, he will go to Airborne afterwards. I notice in his contract (at least the initial contract) there are 12 days between OSUT graduation and first day of Airborne (he likely will have earned a week of leave by then but I know that is only granted if the powers allow). So should we expect that he’ll get 2 or 3 days of leave after he processes for Airborne and then sent to his assigned unit until Airborne begins ? Or would he get a few more days of leave ? Or should we just plan on seeing him for a few days and then maybe again around Christmas ?

    MANY THANKS for your guidance.

    Nancy Feldman
    Army mom

    • Stacey Abler June 19, 2017, 10:00 pm

      My husband just had the weekend off between OSUT and Airborne if I remember right. Unless things have changed quite a bit, he will inprocess into Airborne and then be given duties, etc to do there until it’s time for his class to start. But you should definitely be able to see him after graduation from OSUT. Please do let me know how it all works out!

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