Tales from the Inside: Week 8

The final week.

Every new beginning comes from some other beginnings end.

Semisonic, “Closing Time”

The final week.

The final week.

The final week.

Basic was a blur. We arrived. Week one was when PT started. I don’t even know what week two was about. Week three was second clothing issue…I think. Week four was a week. Week five was BEAST, I remember that only because I wasn’t there. Week six happened twice and week seven was graduation.

That is pretty much all I remember about basic.

This felt as fast, but it’s also a lot clearer. For several reasons likely. First, I not only had the experience of basic, but that experience was relatively recent compared to others. Second there was a lot more free time in the evenings and on weekends to allow the days/weeks activities to actually sink in. Third the program from the top down was a lot smaller. Lastly, unlike basic, you’re expected to think for yourself which requires you to pay more attention to your surroundings and what’s going on.

Nonetheless, the fact that we’re here still boggles the mind. Partly because we’re finally here and it feels like a blur. Mostly because a 17 year journey is finally coming to a close.

Monday and Tuesday were fairly similar. We had some final discussions with our instructor about the course, about the future, about what we learned and about what we were going to learn. Our instructor actually started Squadron Officer School, so she’s no longer officially with us. However our flight commander, who’s spent a lot of time with us throughout the course, has taken over. We’ve warmed to him over the weeks so it works out well.

Luckily this is the last time any of us will be in a training environment like this. SOS is a lot more relaxed comparatively, which meant that La Capitán was able to stop by and give the state oaths for me and the other guard member. Guard members take two oaths, one federal, one state. Sometimes they’re done at the same time, other times separate. In the interest of making the actual commissioning day smoother, and ensuring that she would be able to have some participation in our graduation, we did them earlier. She’s from the Puerto Rico guard, so it was of particular importance for her to give the state oaths.

Tuesday evening was the Dining In. Being so close to the end everyone is just itching to get there and be done. So interest in the dining in the last couple days has oscillated between extremely and -1. Overall though it was a good time and a chance to relax. Dining Ins are a bit of an experience. This one, given the training environment we’re still officially in, was a lot more toned down than others. None the less it was a good time.

Wednesday was a lot of parade practice. A lot. And then there was more after that. But on the plus side everyone is now in town. We were actually on the parade field at 0500 both Wednesday and Thursday so we could get the extra practice in as the weather had not been cooperating for most of the week.

This week at the end of the day after all is said and done we’re free for whatever. So I met the family over at their hotel for dinner as they had come in. I wish I’d gotten a picture of it but when I walked in The Peanut did that toddler thing where they get a big grin shrink down and damn near explode because they’re so excited.

Thursday was the big day. A day that for a while I never thought I’d see. I could wax-poetic about abut dreams and goals and striving and so on, but frankly I’m not sure anything I could say would do justice to both finally achieving a life long goal AND being sworn in by my brother.

I received my first salute from my uncle. And as you can see The Peanut was PTFO for pretty much of the time. Additionally I got to share it not just with my family but with two of the most important people in my life.

The Cheese Puff and Lion flew in Thursday morning for the ceremony. I had already left ROTC by the time I met her, but The Cheese Puff has been listening to me talk about going back on and off for the past 15 years so she was probably just as excited as I was that it was finally done.

And thus we all became lieutenants.


The final day.

In the morning we were all scrambling to clean our rooms and pack our cars as once the parade was over we would be free.

I had one last trick up my sleeve. I had been an element leader at basic, and had carried the guidon for somewhere around half my time at tech school. So I had always joked that I had never marched in the back of any flight I had been in. Though I had carried the guidon for my flight during the course, I would not be doing so for the squadron. Nor would I actually be marching with my squadron. I told everyone where to sit and assured them that they would get a good look at me as we marched out onto the field and as we marched past. But what I didn’t tell them was…

Yup. I’m commanding a squadron. There’s a Facebook video of the parade on the OTS page. It’s okay but cuts out before the oath. I’ve been trying to see if there’s a better one but to no avail.

The Peanut even learned to wave a flag.

And there you have it.

Tales From the Inside: The Journey’s End.

Now the journey begins.

Author: Jonathan Rodriguez-Lucas

I've traveled the world, but the exploration never ends. I've run marathons, but the race is far from over. I've completed life goals, but strive for more. I have questions with no answers, and answers to questions I've yet to ask.

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