As your graduation looms near, your family and friends will probably start freaking out about whether or not they’ll be able to see you during Retreat (the coin ceremony) or at Parade, amongst all of the 800+ trainees. Fear not, anxious loved ones, the good folks at BMT have thought about you already!
My husband picked up the following document during one of the briefings they hold for visitors.
Groups are shown by squadron and flight number. I was in the 324th Training Squadron, Flight 494, so you’ll find me listed as 324/494. Prior to graduation day, we learned of our approximate location during practice sessions. When I had the opportunity to call my family, I passed that message along. If you’re able to make this call, or write a letter before they leave, try to give them an approximate location of where you are in the flight. As flights are organized by height, you’ll have a general idea of where you always end up. If you’re an Element Leader, the Guidon Bearer, or the Dorm Chief, you’re much easier to spot since you have a permanent, designated spot in the flight.
Thursday is the day of Retreat, when you receive your Airman’s Coin. The flag pole is the front and center of the ceremony, so we had a prime position. The squares and rectangles you see marked with an “X” are spectator seating, which is covered to protect against the Texas heat. Flights will march in where the “Band” box is, and file in to their appropriate positions.
On Friday you’ll have Parade, the date which is normally given as your formal “Graduation Day.” During Friday’s ceremony, you’ll wear stripes on your blues, if you’ve graduated with rank (E-2 or E-3). The center tent hosts the invited and honored guests, as well as those who are evaluating your flight’s performance as you march down the bomb run. Your flight will be announced as you go by, including the name of your MTI and his/her hometown. Again, the squares marked with an “X” are the covered bleachers.
At the end of each event, you’ll stand at parade rest and wait to be tapped out, a process that is hyped up on some of the online forums. Don’t stress out about this event. You just have to wait until your family/guests come to you, then you’re excused. If you know of other flight members who don’t have guests attending graduation, do them the favor of tapping them out and inviting them to join your group. Wingman concept, baby! While PDA in uniform is not allowed, you may exchange hugs and kisses (within limits) as greetings. These rules do not apply to children, so you may carry your children or hold their hands while you walk.
Get excited! There’s nothing better than reuniting with those who’ve supported you through the last eight and a half weeks.