If you’re planning on visiting San Antonio, make it a point to attend the Air Force Basic Military Training graduation ceremony at Lackland Air Force Base. You’ll be moved by the grandeur protocol and military bearing of the Air Force’s youngest Enlisted Airmen.
Since hitting the road two and a half years ago with our 5th wheel RV, we’ve visited and/or stayed at several campgrounds on military facilities aka known as ‘FamCamps’. Though FamCamp is a technical Air Force term, that’s the word we refer to all military campgrounds.
Having military retiree status enables us the privilege to stay at military FamCamps. They offer great security, enables continued military comraderie, and usage of other facilities on the military base or post such as commissary, PX/BX (department store), and medical facilities, etc.
When we camp at FamCamps, we get to also visit beautiful memorials. We may get an invitation to a military ball and attend a ceremony or two. When we parked at Lackland Air Force Base FamCamp in San Antonio, we got to attend an Air Force Basic Military Training Graduation.
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Why you should attend this military event
The graduation ceremony location is within walking distance from the FamCamp so that made it easy to just walk over. It’s held outdoors near the Warbirds Memorial Park and Parade Grounds.
If you’ve never attended a military event, we highly encourage you to go. Whether it’s a military academy or enlisted basic training graduation (in this case Air Force Basic Military Training aka BMT), deployment ceremony or homecoming, please go!
In our opinion, there is no greater display of patriotism than honoring those who give their selfless service to our great Country. After all, if it weren’t for them, we wouldn’t be here to talk about them.
At such events, you’ll sit amongst other active duty military Servicemembers, military spouses and their children, mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers and sometimes, extended families of our Heroes.
We also should give as much respect to them as we do to our military men and women. Because, even through our own experiences as a deep-rooted military family, our military servicemembers’ dedication, devotion to duty and successes are attributed much by the support back home.
Meeting the Air Force Families
I walked over with my DSLR camera was seated between two families on the highest bleacher seat. While waiting for the graduation event to start, I met Luis’s Family who traveled from Southern California and Austin’s Family who flew in from Wyoming. It was a coincidence that both of these new Airmen were flag bearers for two state flags which made it easy for me to look for the two new Airmen.
As I sat with the families, I shared with the families that I was in their same shoes 14 years ago when our own son graduated from his Army Basic Combat Training at Fort Knox in Kentucky. I expressed my appreciation of how special this event is as a mother of a Soldier and as a Military Veteran, myself. Luis’s mother shared with me that Luis was her 4th child to enlist and that they all are serving our Country at the same time and in the same service!
I also got to chat with Austin’s mother and his young bride, Alex. Watching Alex’s expressions and beaming pride took me back to my young military wife days of excitement and pride. Since I had my camera with me, I promised them that I would take lots of photos so they could enjoy the graduation ceremony. They’ve even given me permission to share some of them right here.
Anyway, I felt privileged to sit amongst 700+ other proud families from all over the United States who came to see their Airman graduate from their Air Force Basic Military Training. It was an honor to witness 700+ new Airmen Pass in Review and march the Airmen’s Enlisted Heroes Walk to reaffirm their Oath of Enlistment.
The Graduation Ceremony Begins
The first to begin in any military ceremony is the Presentation of Colors.
“The presentation of colors is a ceremony presenting or retiring a flag. The “colors” refer to a flag. A color guard, consisting of two honor guards and two flag bearers, presents or retires the colors. A Sergeant-at-Arms dictates the orders during the ceremony. Proper respect should be given to the colors at all times during the ceremony.” –Legal Beagle
Once the Colors have been presented and posted, then the presentation of our States’ flags are marched in.
And finally, the Air Force Marching Band and graduating Troops are marched in by Company or Battalion.
There are a few speeches and recognitions that take place. And, then the Airmen, in unison, loudly pledge there military oaths. After which, they march and pass in review past the attending Commands, dignitaries and VIPs.
Marching in to become official Airmen
The military parade field is huge; larger than a football field. It’s parametered by a paved sidewalk amidst the War Birds aircraft static displays.
Their march as new Airmen begins on the Enlisted Heroes Memorial; a symbolic 32’ x 32’ walk that is comprised of 1024 inlaid tan bricks. To date, approximately 175 of those bricks are etched with the Heroes names at the beginning of the bomb run with their rank, military decoration and war or campaign they participated in. These Air Force Heroes earned the Medal of Honor, Air Force Cross or Silver Star.
Every new Airmen marches over these bricks to remind them of the journey they are about to embark on as Airman of the United States Air Force. And, they are to reflect on the significance of their enlisted heritage; realizing they walk amongst heroes of the past.
Post Air Force Basic Military Training Graduation Ceremony
It’s celebration time for the new Airmen! There’s a huge mass exodus of families leaving the bleachers in search of their newly oathed Airmen. The new Airmen must continue to stand in formation to wait for their families to come for them.
It was an incredible honor to meet Luis and Austin and meet their families. As expected, both were handsome and proud; wearing their Air Force blues with a bit of apprehension to do or say anything. But, I could tell they were happy to see their families and share their day that will live with them forever.
Airman Luis’ Family
As I took Luis’s photo with his family; he was quite apprehensive of hugging and kissing even his mom because of the military-instilled rule against PDA (public display of affection). However, with a wink of my eye, a nod and a ‘go hug and kiss your mom’, he looked a bit relieved.
Before leaving his family to enjoy their private celebration, I noticed he loosened up a bit. I even got an unexpected hug from Luis and a thank you for photographing this important event.
Airman Austin’s Family
I caught up with Austin’s family before everyone dispersed from greeting their Airmen. Austin and his wife, Alex, asked if I could grab a few photos of their private moments. Of course, I couldn’t say no.
I hurriedly snapped their photos and hugged them them goodbye with a couple words of appreciation. Not wanting to take anymore of their precious reunion moments away from them, I quickly exited. I truly understand those few precious moments having been a military wife for over 30 years myself of those priceless private moments.
Wrapping Up My Day at Air Force BMT Graduation at Lackland
I have to say, attending these type of military events never bore me. It’s an honor to share these moments with two amazing Air Force families who are embarking on their new journey; one of duty, commitment, honor and service.
If you’re ever in the San Antonio area, please fit into your plans to witness an Air Force Enlisted Basic Military Training Graduation. It’s an incredible honor to meet our newest Air Force Heroes and enjoy seeing them reunite with their families.