My trip to Missouri & an army graduation
February 20, 2011
I’m not making any promises people. The only reason why I’m posting anything on Curtis’ blog is because I feel that that this is a much easier media to reach my target audience. Family! As well as to be able to post and send all the pictures and video that my heart desires, and not overload the system. 🙂
So, as some of you may already know from my facebook acct, I left on Feb 8 to go to Missouri in order to see my son Daniel graduate from army basic training. You’re really limited as to what you can have and keep for yourself once you’re enlisted in the military. The only things Daniel asked for himself for Christmas was some bluebell ice cream, Round Rock donuts and some Rudy’s Bar B Q . ( you have to experience these things for yourself to understand!! — all my favs too) In return, my gift from him were plane tickets to Missouri. Not a very evenly matched exchange, but —–
I left the week after the big winter weather hit our area, and the forecast for the following week was more of the same. To say that I was very nervous about traveling in such weather would be a major understatement. Texans aren’t used to dealing with a lot of cold wintery weather. Or in my case, just a general fear of the unknown. I think the last time I flew in an airplane Sarah was a baby. Traveling alone? and for long distances? Never. So OK, I have to admit that I’m a spoiled, kept woman. So this was a growing experience for me. 🙂
I flew on Southwest airlines, which took me from Austin to Dallas, then on to St Louis. I sat next to a woman from St Louis and even she was going on and on about how they hardly ever get as much snow as they had lately. And I would say when I arrived that there was a good 6 inches of snow on the ground. But I was very impressed with how clear all the roadways were. These people really know how to handle snow!
I picked up my rental car, then checked in to my motel room there in St Louis. Since my flight arrived after 10 p.m. and Fort Leonard Wood is another 2 hour drive away, I decided to stay in town for the night.
I got a message on my cell phone from Daniel explaining where and what time I needed to be there the next day. He wasn’t able to call me the day before because one of the guys in his platoon did something dumb so they all lost their personal privileges. So Wed was billed on the website as “Family day” for graduates. All the forecasts, weatherwise called for “light snowflurries”.
When I left the next morning it was overcast and cold, but no snow was falling so I ventured forth. About halfway there, it began to snow lightly, then not so lightly. I was really tempted to turn around and head back, but I really wanted to get there and not miss anything– No one else on the roads seemed to think it was a big deal. I made it safely. Not exactly in 2 hours– more like 2 and a half– and of course, I missed all the platoon demos they had for the families, but I was still able to see my son, sign him out for a day pass— all strictly on base— and spend time with him. Which was great!
We ended up spending the majority of our time at the PX mini-mall. They have a really big food court, where we enjoyed some Chinese food. Even fast food tastes better than MRE’s and field rations– according to Daniel. We wandered around the mall a bit, enjoyed some ice cream, drooled over the new mac notebooks in the electronics department, then ended back up in the food court again and just talked and talked together.
My conclusions from our conversation: Daniel really enjoys military life. Says it’s a good fit for him. He enjoys the missionary experiences he’s had since being on base. His calling in his branch was as a ward missionary, and he was able to participate in quite a few missionary discussions as well as baptisms. He feels that he’s fulfilling another mission for the church being where he is. Will he go back to BYU when he’s finished his language training? Up the air at this point, even though that was the original plan. Feels that spiritually, and as a member of the church, a ward at BYU doesn’t challenge him the same way he currently is in the military, but there’s still another year and a half before making a decision.
By 5 p.m. he had to report back at barracks. The next day was graduation. One thing I have to say about the army is that for those us without a military background, it takes a bit of getting used to. For me, I felt a bit of culture shock. I am definitely not cut out for the military. When Daniel sent me videos of his Airforce competition last year, where they had to be yelled at by a drill sargeant and not “break formation”— I thought, who in their right mind would want to subject themselves to that kind of treatment? Daniel says it motivates him to try harder. 🙂
Because of the weather, the ceremony was held inside an auditorium. Thursday was much better. The sun came out. It didn’t snow, but it was still in the twenties. By this time, I think I was beginning to get the hang of it. Daniel was in the 4th platoon out of 5 in his company. So they had each platoon go up on stage, their drill sargeants were introduced, then each member announced their name, and what state they’re from. (hopefully, I’ll be able to download a video of this part)
There were talks and speeches, plus a few videos. It was finished in about an hour. Afterwards, each platoon formed up outside where they were then released to go off base on leave w/ a family member. Since Daniel had never been off base, we got to explore the area together. We found a sporting good store where he bought himself a new pair of running shoes. He’d been having knee problems with his army issued shoes, so quickly wanted a solution to that problem. Afterwards, we attended a luncheon that the local missionary couple in the branch was having for all the grads. The food was delicious, and it was interesting to hear all about the local building up of the kingdom. There were 3 local elders also attending, and it was nice to visit with them as well. Daniel had obviously built up quite a relationship with these people, and we stayed and lingered for quite some time.
The rest of our afternoon was spent doing some shopping– we thought about seeing a movie, but weren’t sure we’d make it back in time, so hung out a bit more at the P X, then eating a nice steak dinner at a local restaurant. All too soon it was time to report back to the barracks. We had a great time together and am really glad I was able to go.
The next day, Daniel was put on a bus and spent a 20 hour ride to Arizona where he had to report in to Ft Huachuca for his Advanced individual training— which should last until the end of June— then it’s on to California for his Arabic language training.
In a text message that Sat, he told me that his group stopped at a McDonald for breakfast just 15 min from camp, and they met the local branch coming out on their way to the Mesa temple.
When will he get to come home again? Don’t know yet. But he says he’s glad that his time at Ft Huachuca will give him a bit more time in the evenings for himself, plus a lot more privacy.
My trip home was also uneventful. Since coming back, we’ve had a lot more warmer weather with temps in the upper 70’s. So good to be home!
If you care to contact Daniel, here’s how he can be reached:
PV2 Pew, Daniel J
B Co. 309 MI bn.
Ft Huachuca, AZ