Air Force Basic Military Training Graduation – Why You Should Attend!

If you’re planning a visit to San Antonio, you should 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 U.S. Air Force newest enlisted Airmen.

Air Force BMT Graduation - Always On Liberty

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Air Force Basic Military Training Graduation at Lackland AFB

Why You Should Attend!    

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 children, parents and siblings. As well, Veterans attend military basic training graduations as well.

As Americans, despite our political differences, we should all give as much respect to our military men and women. This is just one way to honor and show our deep appreciation of their service from ‘back home’.

The Air Force Basic Military Training graduation is held outdoors at Lackland Air Force Base parade grounds near the Warbirds Memorial Park.

If you’re staying at the military campground on base FamCamp, it’s an easy walk to the parade grounds.

This article is about my attendance to the military tradition of graduating newly enlisted Airmen.

Meet other Air Force Families

From the FamCamp, I walked over to through part of Warbirds Park to get to the parade grounds. It was already a packed house.

I chose to sit up in one of the highest bleacher seats to get some good shots of the graduation ceremony.

While waiting for the graduation event to start, I ended up help pass the time with two Airmen’s Families who traveled from Southern California (Airman Luis) and Wyoming (Airman Austin).

I asked both families if they minded if I would concentrate my photography on their Airmen and their families? Of course, I was met with elation as this allowed them to focus not the ceremony instead of snapping photos.

They let me know where their Airmen would be (roughly). But it wasn’t hard because both new Airmen were chose to be their state’s flag bearers. I just needed to know what their state flag looks like. Thank you Google!

Air Force Graduation - Air Force Families
Alex in the center of the photo poised and proud of her Airman

As I sat with the families, I shared with them that I was in their same shoes 14 years ago. I told them our own son graduated from Army Basic Combat Training at Fort Knox in Kentucky. Further into conversation, I also shared that both my husband and I were also Military Veterans.

I deeply expressed how special this type of military event is as it’s the beginning of an Airmen’s military career.

I was deeply humbled when Luis’s mother shared that Luis was her 4th child to enlist in the U.S. Armed Forces. And that all are serving at the same time. Even more coincidental, all of her children are serving in the same service; the U.S. Air Force!

I then got to chat with Austin’s mother and his new, young bride, Alex. Watching Alex beam with pride took me back to my young military wife days of the excitement of waiting for my Military Hero.

I promised both families that I would take lots of photos so they could  enjoy the graduation ceremony. With that, they’ve even given me permission to share some of them right here.

It was exciting to sit amongst over 700 Air Force families from all over the United States who came to see their Airman graduate from their Air Force Basic Military Training.

I sort of laugh at that number because Coast Guard Basic Training graduations typically only have about 100 newly enlisted graduates.

Graduation Ceremony

The first part of 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

Air Force Graduation - Posting Colors
Presentation of Colors

Once the Air Force Honor Guard presents and posts Colors, other graduating Airmen present each of the U.S. States’ flags to pass in review.

Parading in the National Ensigns and State Flags Alex and Luis are in there somewhere
Looking for Alex with the Wyoming flag and Luis with the Arizona flag (I’ll introduce later in this article)

After, the Air Force Marching Band and graduating Troops march in by Company or Battalion.

Once all the Airmen march in and take position in their assigned company locations, a few Air Force officials give their typical ‘you done a great job’ speeches.

Also, this is when certain awards and recognitions take place.

Finally, the newly enlisted graduating Airmen loudly pledge their military oaths in unison.

After reciting their oath, as units, they march and pass in review, with perfect precision, looking to the attending military officials and their onlooking families. 

Lackland AFB - Pass in Review
One of the companies passing in review
Lackland AFB - Pass in Review
One of the MANY companies passing in review

Enlisted Heroes Walk

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.

Lackland AFB - Enlisted Heroes Walk

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 are recipients the Medal of Honor, Air Force Cross or Silver Star. Some were awarded posthumously.

Lackland AFB - Enlisted Heroes Walk


Lackland AFB - Enlisted Heroes Walk

Every new Airmen marches over these bricks to start them of their own journey 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. 

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.

Celebrate the new Airmen

Air Force Graduation - Families Reuniting with Airmen

It’s celebration time for the newly graduated enlisted Airmen! They’ve come so far in becoming a member of the U.S. Armed Forces.

What an incredible sight to see as the huge mass exodus of Air Force families leave the bleachers to search for their Airmen. The Airmen must not break rank and leave formation until their families to come for them.

It was an incredible honor and deeply humbling to watch the newest members of the Air Force graduate from Air Force Basic Military Training.

As was meeting Luis and Austin and meet their families, it took me back to those proud moments when our own son raised his hand as a new Soldier in the Army.

After those long awaited hugs and wiping proud tears, Luis’ and Austin’s families introduced me. 

Both young Airmen were handsome and proud in their Air Force blues. A little shy and reserved, they finally squeezed out a smirk. You could literally feel their sense of relief that they finally ‘made it’.

Airman Luis’ Family

Air Force Graduation - Luis Family
Luis in the middle with his family

As I took Luis’s photo with his family, I couldn’t help but notice how apprehensive he was to show affection to even his mom. Understandably, it’s because of the military-instilled rule against PDA (public display of affection).

However, having been there myself as a long ago military trainee graduate and mother of a Soldier, I gave him a wink and a nod with quiet whisper, “go hug and kiss your mom”. He gave a smirk of approval.

Before leaving his family for their private celebration, I could see him loosen up. And then, unsuspectingly, Luis hugged and thanked me for photographing this important event for not only him, but also his family.

Air Force Graduation - Luis Parents
Luis’s proud Mom and Dad; notice his little grin as his Mom kissed his cheek.

Airman Austin’s Family

I caught up with Austin’s family to meet their Airmen, Austin. Austin and Alex asked if I could grab a few photos of their private moments.

Of course, how could I ever not honor their request!?

Air Force Graduation - Austin and Alex
Alex and Austin’s bittersweet reunion
Air Force Graduation - Austin and Alex
Alex and Austin, post graduation

I hurriedly snapped their photos and hugged them them goodbye with a words of appreciation and encouragement for them both.

Not wanting to take anymore of their precious reunion moments away from them, I quickly left them to their own celebration. Having been a military wife for over 30 years myself, I truly understand those few precious and priceless moments.

Air Force Graduation - Austin Family
A congratulatory kiss from Austin’s wife and his Mom
Air Force Basic Military Training Graduation - Austin Family
Austin’s family

✰ PRO TIP  After graduation, walk over to the Warbirds Memorial Park to learn about the historic military aircraft. It’s also a great place for photo ops! 

Wrapping up my experience at Air Force Basic Military Training Graduation

Attending these type of military events never bore me. It’s an honor to experience and share these Air Force families’ moments. And I pray for protection and safety on their new journey in the Air Force.

So, if you are planning to visit San Antonio, fit into your plans to attend the Air Force Enlisted Basic Military Training Graduation at Lackland Air Force Base. 

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Places to Stay in San Antonio

If you’re coming from out of town and are looking for places to stay in San Antonio, there’s lots of lodging options.

If you’re a Military ID card holder, you can make reservations to stay at the Gateway Inn at JBSA Lackland. or IHG Army Hotels at Fort Sam Houston.

I think you can have your Airmen make reservations at either of those on-post hotels as well. Just make certain you verify with your Airman to see if you qualify to stay as non-ID-card family members.

Otherwise, there’s plenty of other lodging in San Antonio.

If are bringing your RV to San Antonio, check out Lackland Air Force Base FamCamp as well as JBSA Fort Sam Houston military RV Park.

Military ID card Holders include Active Duty, Reserve, National Guard, Military Dependent and certain DOD employees.

But if you don’t have proper access to camping or parking your RV at either military facility, there are plenty of other RV parks in San Antonio.

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Air Force Basic Military Training Graduation - Always On Liberty

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