So finally time to update on Andrew’s graduation….
We arrived on Thursday morning, the flight was uneventful…thankfully, we got our rental and got out of Chicago and found our way to the hotel, it was not as bad as I expected. I am not a big city girl, even though I have lived and driven in big cities before…the hotel (Red Carpet Inn) was far from red carpet worthiness, nonetheless it was conveniently situated, it was within minutes of the base…which was very important due to time constraints. It was cold and the wind was brutal, I packed accordingly….or so I thought…I ended up wearing my clothes in layers, and glad that I was smart enough to pack stretchy stuff that I could wear over my other clothes. It wasn’t so much the temperatures, but the wind…good gosh….I know it has the nickname of the Windy City, but I’ve lived in other places that have been just as windy if not more…just not something you can prepare for when you get acclimated to Texas weather. So anyway, we made it in, and had fun getting checked in early…which I told the girl at the front desk, no problem if it is too early, we can always come back, she sent us to a room that had these massive double sinks on top of the beds…strike one, the next room, my #2 went in, it was not ready, not clean, toilet a mess…strike 2, next room, key didn’t work….strike 3…next room, front desk girl went and checked first then gave us a working key….sigh…that was exhausting….Derrick and I then went and had a late breakfast next door to the hotel, biscuits and gravy, scrambled eggs and crispy bacon, I love crispy bacon! Then we went to Walmart and got some cheap gloves and some other stuff…then we went to the hotel, chilled for a while then made it to the meet and greet…I was disappointed with that but the food was free and it was actually good, I could see Derrick was miserable there so I put him out of his misery and we went back to the hotel. Friday morning we got up early, grabbed some water and a couple of offerings from the continental breakfast spread and headed to the base. We got there, found the section reserved for Andrew’s division and got front row seating….not the best seat in the house but good enough for me…and not the best seat because when they opened the doors to let the sailors in the wind also came in…so finally they started the ceremony, Andrew’s division came in first, saw him, he didn’t see us….poor kids they all looked frozen and exhausted….
And then it was tears, hugs and time to make plans for the rest of the day with our Sailor. But before that….Andrew wanted us to meat the Reviewing Officer, the night before when they had dinner he got to meet the Rear Admiral….who is a Texas native, when he asked if there was anyone from Texas Andrew raised his hand, they spoke briefly and he invited Andrew to sit next to him at dinner.
He also told Andrew he wanted to meet us…so we went in search of Young, who we found and were escorted to meet him in a private section that is closely guarded. We did the introductions and then Young asked Andrew if he had received a challenge coin from him the previous evening, Andrew said no, so Young reached into his pocket and presented Andrew with his first challenge coin. His words of appreciation and encouragement went a long way. Andrew was and still is highly stoked….and with good reason. Challenge coins are available for purchase…so yeah anyone can have them, but when it is handed to you by a top level member of the military it has a more special meaning than if mommy had ordered one thru EBay.
I am thankful that Rear Admiral Young took the time to encourage my son and also take the time to personally meet and visit with us briefly, we were not on his scheduled agenda so the fact that he took the time to do this made the occasion that much more special.
While in boot camp, Andrew also received his first of what will be many ribbons…
A little Bio on Young↓↓
The Reviewing Officer for Andrew’s PIR (graduation) was Rear Admiral Eric Young, Commander, Navy Reserve Forces Command. A native of Abilene, Texas, RADM Young is a graduate of Angelo State University in San Angelo, Texas, where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry. He received his commission as an Ensign from Officer Candidate School in February 1985. He holds a Master of Science degree in Financial Management from the Naval Postgraduate School and a Master of Arts degree in National Security and Strategic Studies from the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island.
Young’s tours at sea as a surface warfare officer include ordnance officer, USS Reid (FFG 30); navigator, USS San Jose (AFS 7); operations officer, USS Wadsworth (FFG 9); combat systems officer, Destroyer Squadron 31; executive officer, USS Ford (FFG 54); commanding officer, USS John L Hall (FFG 32); and commander, Destroyer Squadron 1.
Young’s staff and shore assignments included commanding officer, Naval Reserve Center Terre Haute, Indiana; commanding officer, Naval Reserve Center Danville, Illinois; manpower analyst in the Surface Warfare Directorate, Chief of Naval Operations (N86); manpower and personnel director, Naval Reserve Readiness Command South; commanding officer, Navy Operational Support Center San Diego, California; deputy director, Training Transformation and Technology in the Office of the Secretary of Defense (Reserve Affairs); and most recently, as deputy chief of Navy Reserve from July 2012 to August 2014.
During his command tour aboard USS John L. Hall (FFG 32), his crew won five of five Command Excellence awards. Young assumed command of Destroyer Squadron 1 from June 2009 through November 2010. In October 2009, Destroyer Squadron 1 was assigned as the Sea Combat Commander for the Carl Vinson Strike Group. Young spearheaded Destroyer Squadron 1 transformation from an ISIC-focused destroyer squadron to an operationally-focused destroyer squadron. For the first time, Destroyer Squadron 1 became a permanent Sea Combat Commander for a Strike Group.
Young became Commander, Navy Reserve Forces Command in Norfolk, Virginia, September 25, 2014.
Young’s decorations include the Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Meritorious Service Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, and various unit and campaign awards.
As part of the official arrival ceremony on Friday morning, after the Ruffles and Flourishes are played once she’s announced, she is also entitled to a 13-Gun Salute fired in five second intervals. The saluting cannons are outside the drill hall, but you should be prepared (and caution the young ones) for the cannon “BOOMs”. Military guests in uniform are to hold their salute until the last shot is fired. All other guests should remain standing until told to be seated.