This is it! Retreat, sometimes known as the “coin ceremony,” is when you’ll officially become an Airman and receive your
|[Source: C. Christeson]|
The flights are lined up in numerical order along the street, prepared to march onto the retreat pad, moving forward as flights file in. A blue rope in charge of drill and ceremony will call each flight in. Retreat is both a graduation ceremony of sorts, but your flight and your MTI are still being evaluated for how you execute all of the drill movements. As you approach the turn into the retreat pad, your MTI will request permission from the blue rope to enter the retreat pad. Each flight files in and immediately begins the ceremony. Regardless of how many flights are on the pad, you will all conduct retreat individually – it is not done as a huge group.
|[Source: C. Christeson]|
After everyone has received their coin, the commander will say some brief words. You won’t even remember them, at least I don’t, because you’re so pumped at that point. Finally, the ceremony will come to a close and the families will be invited to come onto the pad and find their new Airman. This is what many families (especially those active on AF WingMoms) refer to time for the tap out. You’ll stand at attention until your family comes to you and greets/hugs/jumps on you (briefly). You’re not dismissed until someone dismisses you. [Read more about PDA rules in my post about Reuniting at Graduation.]
Retreat happens really quickly, much faster than I assumed it would. Blink and it’s over! That being said, if you’re at Lackland during the summer it gets hot really quickly out there. I remember my feet burning in my shoes standing on the concrete for that long. I had lovely sweat stains for the occasion, since at BMT females don’t wear undershirts or camisoles under their blues shirts. The MTIs are very contentious that this ceremony is notorious for bringing Airmen to their knees – literally. Trainees faint during Retreat quite frequently, and the blue ropes are prepared to catch people. We were instructed to take a knee if we thought we felt faint. So many trainees are so determined to tough it out and look sharp that they lock their knees and pass out. Definitely not what anyone wants to do as they become an Airman in front of their entire cheering section of friends and family! You’re also instructed to maintain strict military bearing, despite the fact that your loved ones may be steps away from you. No crying when you spot your family, not even your kids. You can’t react to them, and your MTI will hammer that into you.
[Yes, that’s yours truly in the second and third photos, as well as in the YT video, doing my Dorm Chiefly duties.]