1. Your Name (as you would like it to appear):
2. Where did your soldier attend basic training?
3. When did your soldier attend basic training (please include the year)?
10/29/12-1/31/13 (Two weeks of leave over Christmas)
4. How often did you hear from him (phone and letters)? I received 4 phone calls, one was to say his phone was being taken away and one was for the sole purpose of scheduling his flight home for Christmas.
I got letters about every week and a half. He would write 4-5 days worth and send them all at once.
5. How long was it before you heard from him the first time? The first phone call after his phone was taken away was when he called to coordinate VBL (Victory Block Leave/Christmas Leave). Thanksgiving was the other phone call. They didn’t get many others since they had 2 weeks off for Christmas right in the middle.
6. How long did it take to receive a mailing address from him? about 2 and a half weeks
7. Were there any restrictions on what you could send him? The main thing that he wanted was cough drops, they had to be sugar-free, any flavor. He also requested the US Government Skilcraft pens, so I bought a box and sent them to him also.
Everything else is pretty limited, his unit’s facebook page had a do’s and don’ts section for what’s allowed to be sent.
8. When did you receive information about family day and graduation?
Before his first letter
9. Did he have a family day? If so, please describe.
We met at Hilton field. We could see our soldiers waiting in the tree line. The commanders of the battalion spoke for about 30 min then we got to go onto the field, greet our soldiers then go check them for an on base pass for the day.
It was 70 degrees out so we first went to the commissary and got picnic lunch items, then went to a park and ate it. Then found a park with a playground for our daughter to play on. We aren’t seafood eaters, so we passed on the Officers Club Dinner, which was a Seafood Buffet.
We opted for my husband’s favorite, Subway. It was starting to get dark so we went to the solomon center and played. They had video and board games along with a bouncy house and a couple of other inflatable games.
We had to have him back at his barracks by 8:00 and we stayed for the commander’s briefing. We hung around after that, for the promotion ceremony, which my husband was part of.
My Daughter and I were able to tear his Pvt2 rank off and put his new PFC rank on. That was really special to be a part of.
10. Please describe the graduation ceremony.
Graduation day was colder, but at 45 degrees we were used to it.
It lasted about 45 min. Started with the Army band and then with the soldiers marching out. My soldier received a special award for his company so after the graduation we went over to a white tent on the side of the stands.
We got to hear a speech from the Brigadier General of the base, the soldiers received challenge coins from the general and 4 other high-ranking officers.
11. Is there a website for his unit? Did you find a place online that has pictures from his basic training?
Yes, there was a Facebook group. Which photographed the event. They can’t guarantee your soldier will be in them, but they take about 100 pictures per event of each company.
On Sunday they post a “40 rounds” album which gives you an extra chance to find your soldier. They ask one soldier from each platoon a question and feature the answers.
Also, the Protestant Chaplain hosts a “Sunday shout out” if your soldier goes to the Protestant service they can view the shout out. It was shown prior to and after the Sunday service. This was all through the Facebook page. The ladies that run it are great!
12. Any other tips or information?
I missed the call telling me my soldier’s address, so I ended up calling the base locater office. which I found on the Fort Jackson website.
If your soldier has basic training over christmas know that the remaining time is much harder for them and you. You only get two weeks back, make it count and send as many letters as you can write, they need it!