Like Father, Like Son

Erik just graduated Basic Training in October.  He’d left for the Army in July, after giving us ten day’s notice that he had enlisted, which threw us for a loop to say the least!

After a few phone calls, a couple of scrawled letters, my husband and parents were finally going to see him graduate.

I could not go because of work obligations.

The military sure has changed since my husband, Bill, joined up.  Our communications had been limited to letters.  Erik was able to call most every Sunday for 2 minutes a pop.  The first time he called, I was so shocked; I had really nothing to say.  The connection was horrid, I could hardly hear him, and when the call ended, I was in tears.  I raged that in the 21st century, why couldn’t the military get some decent phone lines?

I came to expect—actually plan my weekends around—the possible Sunday phone calls.

In addition to the phone calls from “our soldier”, we also got a couple of letters from the commander of his unit, explaining a bit about the Basic Training course and also assuring us that “our soldier” would get enough food—to include a choice of dessert daily.

We were encouraged to call his company right before graduation to ensure “our soldier” was on track.  He was, according to the drill sergeant who answered the phone.

Bill, who was already on the East Coast and my parents who were coming in from Indiana would represent the family.  I alternated between being sad I wasn’t attending, and being glad that Bill, now a military retiree, could bond solo with his fellow soldier without mama there.

Ft Jackson’s Morale, Welfare, and Recreation (MWR) department has a neat service.  Graduation is on a Friday morning and that Friday night, through the weekend, the graduation is available to view via Internet.

I planned to watch it on my kitchen computer while eating dinner, but for some reason, the link didn’t come live for a couple hours later than expected.  I was absolutely ecstatic, when finally, the hyperlink worked and the whole graduation unfolded before me.  The quality wasn’t the best; they want you to order the high quality CD, but it gave me enough to go on.  The music, the ruffles and flourishes made me tear up, and in a spurt of patriotism, I sprang to my feet and saluted as Erik marched by.

When Bill arrived home, he had a large packet of photos—the official individual portraits and the company photo.  We hung Erik’s company photo over Bill’s Basic Training company photo, and were amazed at the coincidences.  Both Bill and Erik were in Charlie Company; they both were in 4th platoon, and they were both standing in the 4th row.

The dates were both August—Bill’s 1987 and Erik’s 2008.

I guess the two of them are more alike than we thought. Hooah!

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