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Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Godspeed, Younger Daughter

You might remember a couple days ago, when I made lemon meringue pie for the neighborhood potluck, I noted the treat was a special request from Younger Daughter. That's because it's one of her favorite pies; and it was also the last potluck she'll be attending for a while. As I type this, she's on her way to boot camp in Great Lakes, Illinois, to become a sailor.

Originally she was supposed to ship out November 28, but some time ago she had put in a request for an earlier ship date should one come available. She found out about two weeks ago there was an opening, and she gladly took it. She is, in her own words, "stoked" to be on her way (even if she has to endure boot camp first).

So the last couple of weeks have been frantic on her part, tying up loose ends, making her goodbyes to friends and neighbors, cleaning her bedroom, sorting through clothes and personal effects. Yep, it's been crazy.

One of the things she did was have us cut her hair. It was far too long, and she risked just having it hacked off by boot camp barbers. At first she was going to go to a proper salon and get a professionally done short haircut, but there wasn't quite enough time to mentally psych herself up for that step. So Don cut it for her.

(She'll learn the proper method to confine her hair in the next day or two.)

She is allowed very, very few personal possessions at boot camp: A tiny address book, a small Bible, a religious medallion, identification (driver's license and military ID), a small watch, and a bank direct-deposit sheet (the white paper at bottom). No personal clothing, no electronics, nothing else. Zip, zilch, nada, nothing.

Because these possessions are still questionable (the watch and the Bible may be too big or not permitted after all), she didn't want to get anything expensive. The watch is a cheapo WalMart special for $7. The address book measures about 2x3 inches.

She found a Bible at a thrift store for $2. It's actually a lovely little volume in excellent shape, so I hope she's allowed to keep it.

Recruits are allowed one religious medallion of their choice, as long as it's smaller than their dog tags. This miniature sterling silver Celtic cross is a gift from Older Daughter to her sister, purchased in Ireland. Younger Daughter is confident she'll be permitted to keep it.

Yesterday morning I drove her to the recruiter's office in Coeur d'Alene, and asked for a photo with two of the three recruiters. Ahem. Notice the height difference. That's a constant joke.

I said my goodbyes and left her. The recruiters drove her to MEPS (the Military Entrance Processing Station) in Spokane that afternoon, and she spent the night in a hotel.

Early this morning, Don and I left the house and drove to MEPS to watch her swearing-in ceremony.

We went through airport-style security inside the building.

A funny thing happened while we were waiting with Younger Daughter for the ceremony. There is a tall burly black man named Mike whom Younger Daughter met last May at MEPS. She didn't catch his last name, but she called him her guardian angel. He helped her through the sometimes-confusing procedures, and when she "walked" out from unacceptable job offers, he was there to guide her. She believes it may have been due to his influence that she was offered the Advanced Electronics Computer Field position she accepted. She was pleased to see him again so she could thank him. Interestingly, out of countless faces he's seen since last May, he remembered her clearly and referenced her experience.

Well, Don and I had the opportunity to shake his hand and thank him for his help during her bewildering and exciting experience last May. He was kindness itself and expressed great confidence that Younger Daughter will go far in her military career. It's people like Mike that make us glad YD chose the Navy.

We had about an hour to wait before her swearing-in ceremony, during which time we watched lots of young people get processed in various capacities. "Is it my imagination, or is everyone here over six feet tall?" I joked to Younger Daughter. "Yep, they are," she replied. Her diminutive size has been an ongoing jest ever since she enlisted.

Then came the ceremony itself. Four recruits (from various branches, not just the Navy) stood in "parade rest" position in the solemn room where they were sworn in. It was at this juncture that family members were invited in to watch.

When the Army Ranger Captain administering the oath walked into the room, the recruits all snapped to attention.

The Captain asked all the recruits whether they were there of their own free will, and other questions of similar magnitude.

Then they all swore the military oath.

After this, the recruits filed into another room where, one by one, they signed their contracts. Younger Daughter is now irrevocably in the Navy.

She told us later, while she was being driven to MEPS by the Coeur d'Alene recruiters, they told her she was one of their favorite recruits they'd come across, and echoed Mike's confidence she'll do well. This wasn't inappropriate banter; I believe they meant it. YD is small, but she's sharp-witted, intelligent, gives as good as she gets, quick at catching on and learning new things, and doesn't cow easily.

So we said goodbye to our youngest daughter -- now a grown woman -- and left her to her career choice. She called from Salt Lake City this afternoon, on a layover before arriving in Chicago late tonight. She's well braced for the hell of "processing week" and knows what to expect.

Godspeed, dear daughter.


  1. May God watch over her and bless her richly.

  2. 30 years ago I was that new recruit in the Army. She'll do great. I made 6 years out of the military, she might even like it better than me.

  3. That was me joining the navy almost 30 years ago!

    I got my hair cut before leaving as well, but it didn't last the first week. There was no time to put up hair in boot camp and it was shorn above the collar. Took less than two minutes. One of the first things many female sailors did after boot camp was to get another hair cut. Hopefully things are different now!

  4. Congrats to your Navy daughter!! My granddaughter graduated boot camp in August and now in A school in Gulfport Mississippi as a SeaBee welder!!! She is loving the Navy and I am sure your daughter will too. Write lots of letters! The Bible and things she took are perfect size and she will be able to keep them. They don't get to call him very often and write home on Sunday afternoons. They do get mail call each day and Hope said that letters really meant a lot to her.

  5. She is beautiful! All the best to her as she represents the values you've taught her to the world.

  6. God Bless you, YD, and thank you for your service. My father & father-in-law served in the Navy during WWII so I'm partial to Navy personnel. Praying for your safety and that it is all you wanted it to be.

  7. A Moment to remember and beem with Pride. Good Luck to your wonderful daughter.

  8. And life's grand adventure begins...
    Godspeed, YD.

    - Charlie

  9. Yd's swearing in gave me chills 57 years ago I took my oath, endured boot camp at Great lakes became an ET (R) radar specialist and enjoyed the greatest experience of my life.
    GOD BE WITH YOU YD Your future is bright.

  10. Godspeed to her-fair winds and following seas. Those pictures brought back all the emotion from when my son swore in last July.

  11. Thank you for sharing with us. I have watched the girls grow up through your blog and feel that she is one of my distant relations. I wish her well and hope that she remains safe throughout her military service.

  12. Made the same journey 50 yrs ago. (Air Force, not Navy.) Best wishes to her. By the way my Dad, an old Master Sergeant, made me get a fresh hair cut before reporting. He said they will shave your head anyway but you don't want to show up looking like some hippie. My first lesson in not giving the drill sergeants reason to remember my name.


  13. I pray for you and your husband. I know from experience that it is a hard thing to do letting them go into the military. My son went into the Marines at 19 and I shed a few tears as I know you did too. Donna in Texas

  14. This post brought tears to my eyes remembering our daughter's leave-taking into the Air Force six years ago. Yours is in for a wonderful adventure! If the Navy is similar to the AF then your daughter will find that long hair is allowed as long as it is up--there is a lot of braiding done to each other. As far as height, she'll fit right in. Our daughter at 5'9" was the tallest woman around, and after basic she found she was still taller than many of the men. Remind your daughter that many of us pray daily for all of the men and women serving in the military and she will be added personally to our prayers. Thank you for raising a good woman who can be a light to others as she serves.

  15. Patrice, I must say I teared up a bit reading your post. So wonderful and sad when they fly the nest.

  16. God bless you richly. Will be praying for you sweet younger daughter.
    Love from NC

  17. my youngest daughter made the same trip 2 1/2 years ago, as did I 46 years ago (I went to san deago.
    it's a thougher course now that it was for me, but it will change her forever...she will grow up fast, or wash out.
    i'm sure she will do well.
    mine is a corpsman lab tech stationed in iwakuni japan, and loving where she is and what she is doing.
    fair seas and following winds

    1. p.s. if you have time and want a little support from fellow navy moms

  18. Obviously an outstanding young woman. Please express my thanks for her service. God's blessings on you all as you move through this new time in your lives.

  19. I was in the same place back in 79 and early 80. Same time of year too. It was colder than a witches you know what in a brass you know what. That was then. I went to Kenosha Wisconsin a couple times. I'm thinking it is a lot worse now than it was back then. I would not stray off base in this day and age. I wish her luck. I was going for machinest mate. What will her rating be?

  20. Boy does this bring back memories of nine years ago my youngest son was in those rooms as he signed up in the Air Force. Congratulations younger daughter. Patrice when my sons were in the military you naturally want to send them goodies. Cookies: Do not send in a tin they will arrive as crumbs, instead I was told by some one that you pack them in popcorn. The USPS will give a discount on medium and large flat rate priority boxes going to the military, I would use a large flat rate priority box place a clean bag inside and start layering popcorn and cookies lasagna style starting with popcorn until you can close the box without pressing. My son said this method had only 1 broken cookie. Next up brownies, yes I use the prepackage ones. Those small rectangular tins are perfect for this One package will fill both tins just right for baking. Once baked after a little cooling I would freeze them. The next morning I would seal a meal them and they would be the last item for shipping and I would rush to the post office. Younger son loved them. By using the larger flat rate box you can send lots of treats (for sharing) and necessities when needed. This really worked out well for deployment. I don't know how it would work on a ship far away. Of course hand written letters are a big plus of a treat, when far from home. My son would tell me when he got a package everybody in his group wanted to see what he got, they would all share, I had asked him what would the ladies in his group wanted, he said a scale because they had to maintain certain weight levels. I got an older one from an estate sale and it fit perfectly in his box. God will be watching out for and protecting her in her new adventure. I'll bet those big brute guys don't know that although she is tiny she has had to handle cows and bulls for a good portion of her life.

  21. Patrice...Don...She will always need you. She will always need to know that home base is still there.
    God bless,

  22. Thank-you YD for protecting our county. Know that you are loved and remembered in our prayers.

  23. Our sons were allowed to take one change of clothing for layover flight and personal hygiene items(travel size). Be sure to make plans to attend her graduation, it's an amazing experience. Our oldest son graduated in Dec. We live in Northern Ca(far north of Sacramento) but don't experience snow, you should have seen us navigate the snow and cold wind from Chicago to the Great Lakes area and back. Something you're more familiar with. We did get a day outing with him and had the opportunity to do some Chicago site seeing. So plan for that too. Thank you YD for your service.

  24. Two years ago we said goodbye to our son as he entered the USAF. He joined his older brother who has been in the USAF for the past 18 years. Today he is a Loadmaster on a C-130 and currently deployed in Afghanistan. We know how you feel. Frightened, yet Proud. We thank your daughter for her service and wish her Godspeed!!God Bless you and your family!

  25. Onward Christian Soldier! Bless you YD, and your awesome parents, . Hugs and prayers for you all.

  26. YOU EMPTY NESTERS! Now what?

  27. go git 'em tiger! (Mom & Don... It'll all be OK!) :-)

  28. Glad you have a puppy to hug. :) <3

  29. Well since she went in and I hope that she likes it, I hope that she stays in for 20.My
    husband did and now it is making the house
    payment. That is a blessing
    O and my husband was a Seabee also.

  30. It's crazy. I only know you through your blog, and yet, I find my eyes to be a bit misty. May God bless younger daughter and her parents on this new stage of life.

    Southern Gal

  31. This was me in 1979. Just tell her if there is something she wants to request it and if denied, find out why, complete what ever prerequisites are needed, and apply again. This from a retired ET1 who perhaps partied a bit much but still kept out of major problems. And enjoyed Almost Every Moment Of It!

  32. never commented before! .went through the same process 52 yrs ago in navy boot camp in chicago.i believe you have prepared your children well.will pray for her as we pray for all.

  33. Aw, this was a lovely post to read and re-read. I'm a retiree-military wife and it was neat to read this and imagine what my then-fiance/now husband went through during the early part of his AF induction. His dad was career-Navy and counselled my husband to join the AF instead of the Navy in order to have a better family life but ALL military have difficult family challenges ahead and deserve our respect. I will keep your YD in prayer and hope that she will get through training well and happily and find great fulfillment in her career path. And that you hang in there and find solace and strength while you wait for news from her.

  34. Best wishes to your daughter! I'm confident she will do well. Empty nesters! It just be a mix of emotions.

  35. Patrick from Alton, ILOctober 2, 2017 at 6:56 AM

    Have read and enjoyed your blog for years and watched the girls grow up (along with your garden). They seem to be marvelous young women, God bless YD and thanks to her for her service, she is well prepared and will do great. Hang in there Patrice and Don, we are empty nesters also and there is some trauma but life is a one way trip.

  36. God Bless YD and keep her safe! I thank her for her service. You have raised some amazing young women, give yourselves a pat on the back!

  37. My first day of bootcamp at Great Lakes was 11 Nov 1975. I don't imagine it's changed much. Good luck Younger Daughter, and as advice from a retired squid to a brand new sailor? Keep your ears open and your mouth closed...