Navy Boot Camp Graduation


Those glasses will never see the light of day again.

If you ever have the chance to see a Navy boot camp graduation, go. The Navy knows how to put on a beautiful show. It was awe-inspiring from start to finish. The photos don’t really need much if any commentary. The speaker was Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Juan M. Garcia III. The performers (music and drill) in graduations are always junior recruits, who will be graduating in a few weeks. The stars are the graduates, of course. The way each division moves in formation as one is amazing. It was, quite simply, a thrill to see. And when it was finally over– The recruits are instructed to remain by their division flags while their families rush from the stands, sorting through the sea of white to find their own.

After battle stations, their final–grueling–test, there is an immediate capping ceremony. They remove their “recruit” caps and are given a “Navy” cap. They are fresh from their 12-hour ordeal and Ross said the speech by their commander was moving. Many of the recruits cried. They were told, this is your real graduation, the one in the big hall with the marching is for your families. That is very true, I’m sure. What we saw was their ceremonial graduation. Their real, emotional, gut-ripping graduation was the one after battle stations. But the ceremonial graduation comes with an extra perk–liberty! For Ross, he is one of the lucky ones to have all weekend. He won’t be leaving for his “A school” (nuclear power school) in South Carolina until early Tuesday morning.

The first thing he asked for was his contacts. Right then, right there! He was ready to put them on his eyeballs! Unfortunately, I hadn’t thought he would want them right there, right then, so they were back at the hotel. As soon as we got back to the hotel, that was the first thing he did–put his contacts in! And then he didn’t want to do another thing. No Chicago. No going out to eat. Nothing. After two months of regulated doing every hour of the day, he wanted nothing more than to spend the day hanging out in the hotel room with his family. He took a long shower. He changed into civilian clothes that I brought for him. (Which he can’t wear outside the hotel room–only in private.) We ordered pizza delivered to the hotel. He talked. And talked. And talked. And talked some more. He showed his brother and sister how to do 8-count body builders and mountain climbers and sharks, and how to march, and how to fold clothes. We talked about boot camp and we talked about boot camp and we talked about boot camp. It was wonderful. And we talked about some things that happened while he was in boot camp that were sad. And it was okay. He is amazingly mature after these two months.

And then eventually we had to take him back to the base. We’ll pick him up this morning at 7:45 and we’ll do whatever he wants. If it’s just hang out in the hotel room again all day long and talk, that’s okay by me!

I have my sailor!

P.S. See the beginning of his Navy journey here and Letters from Boot Camp here.


  1. BuckeyeGirl says:

    Absolutely, Wonderfully, Fantastic! :snoopy:

  2. Grandmatotwochicks says:

    Congratulations on your SAILOR! Very exciting, :snoopy:

  3. TX Aggiemom says:

    I am crying tears of pride and joy for Ross, for you, for family and that this country has young people of this caliber. I’ve many years as a Navy wife and I know what these sailors are. I know our country is blessed and free, guarded by these incredible men and women.
    There is so much to say, but no words for it. God bless you and hold you in the palm of His hand.

    Fair winds and following seas, to a sailor and his Navy mom.

  4. Blessings says:

    Absolutely Fantastic and SOOOOO Happy for You & Yours! My hubby (Navy) has asked all evening “has she posted pictures or said anything yet”!
    Your family has a Blogg Community Of Love & Blessings & Well Wishes!
    You are Blessed!

  5. Nancy in Iowa says:

    this is so fantastic! Please extend my heartfelt congratulations to Ross. The graduation looks very beautiful – much more ceremonial than the outdoor, in the field, Army boot camp graduation I attended a few years ago. Continue to enjoy your family time together!

  6. Jennifer Robin says:

    Brings back memories. My son was one of the ones twirling a rifle (back in his day). We have a video of the ceremony as a remembrance, and yes, it is very moving to watch, to this day!

  7. Patty says:

    I’m crying for him too!! CONGRATS ROSS!!! My 14 yr old daughter is talking about going into a Navy Nuclear program now as well, just out of the blue. Your stories about it all make it seems a lot less scary, and I’d be so proud. I can only imagine how incredibly proud you are Suzanne! Enjoy your time with your Sailor! 🙂

  8. Beth @ Moose In My Yard says:

    This reminds me of my husband’s graduation from boot camp for the Air Force, only his was outside. It was in San Antonio and it was HOT. A few airmen passed out during the ceremony. I remember trying to pick him out of the crowd while they were marching and the only way I could distinguish him from the others was by the way he walked. It proved helpful after he we moved to his first duty station and there were thousands of others in the exact same uniform. I could always tell that it was him by his gait.
    Congratulations! I’m sure you are one proud Mama!

  9. mary kellogg says:

    What a handsome young man. You must be so proud! Wow. Thank you for sharing this important time in your life, and Ross’ life.

    An honor. :sun:

  10. julyorchid says:

    Congratulations to Ross and his mamma. He is a fine looking man in his uniform. I know you must be very proud! 🙂

  11. Kelly says:

    How exciting! We are all proud of you and him.

  12. Pete says:

    Please tell Ross that I congratulate and thank him for his patriotism and willingness to “stand the watch”. Fair winds and following seas to one of America’s newest heros.

  13. glenda says:

    What a proud family you all must be!

    and how lucky we Americans are to have young men and women willing to join the services and keep us all free.

    Bless them all.

    I had tears in my eyes just looking at the pictures.

  14. Ann says:

    Touching post! Enjoy the weekend with your Sailor!!!

  15. Rose H says:

    Hearty congratulations to you and of course Ross! I’m sure it was a very moving day for all of you.
    Enjoy your days of freedom Ross 🙂

  16. Glenie says:

    Just enjoying being with your kids is what counts not what you do.

  17. Johanna says:

    Wow, Suzanne! What an impressive show! I was afraid it would be outside — if the weather had been nicer, would it have been, or is it always indoors? I bet Ross is super-glad to have you there now. Enjoy your special time together!

  18. Snapper119 says:

    Dear Ross~

  19. Lori Skoog says:

    Some of your close up shots are dazzling! What a ceremony. So glad that you and all your kids could be together on this special day. I don’t blame Ross for just wanting to hang out…enjoy!

  20. Laura B. in Greenwood, IN says:

    Thank you Morgan and Weston for supporting your brother and sacrificing the time you would have spent with him while he was away. Thank you Suzanne for sharing this special moment with us. And, thank you Ross, for loving your country. America is blessed.

  21. CindyP says:

    Congratulations, Ross! :snoopy: Have a great weekend with the kids and your mom! Best of luck at A school :woof:

    Suzanne, it looks and sounds like you did good! :hug: He still hasn’t learned to smile yet though 😉

  22. Carmen C. says:

    AWESOME!!!!!!!! Enjoy your time with your sailor!!!!!

  23. Rhonda says:

    How awesome and moving – the whole experience. A smile and a tear for ya’ll.

  24. kellyb says:

    The pictures brought me to tears. Congratulations.

  25. Heidi says:

    Great post. Congratulations again to Ross.

  26. Cindy says:

    Soooo happy for you and your family, Suzanne. You must be very proud. Congratulations Ross! Thank you for serving our country.

  27. Diane says:

    Thanks for shareing. I am here crying. Happy tears they are. Its so amazing to read about your experience as a mom going though this. Just being happy to stay in the hotel room and talk and talk and talk. Enjoy it all this weekend. Take loads of pictures. 🙂 I am just realizing how fast our kids grow up and how little time we have with them. Its treasured time until they are out on their own.

  28. Patrice says:

    Congratulations! Thanks for sharing the photos.

  29. Beth Brown says:

    Again, congratulations to you both! You are right – military graduations are very moving! Enjoy your time with Ross.

    Beth aka oneoldgoat

  30. ladybird_1959 says:

    Congratulations, Ross! You made it. Suzanne, you must be so proud of this young man. He left your home just a few short weeks ago a boy and now you have a mature young man. What a blessing he must be to you.

    I’m sorry you had to deliver sad news to Ross, but I’m sure it did the four of you good to be together. May God shower his blessings on you and your family and keep Ross safe as he serves his country. We are all proud of him.

  31. Carla says:

    God bless you Ross, and thank you for your service. I spent ten years in the Air Force. I know it’s hard, but it’ll be the best time you ever had. You’ve done a great job Suzanne.

  32. Maureen says:

    Congratulations to Ross!

  33. Becky says:

    Congratulations, Ross!!
    Suzanne I am so happy that you and your other kids can be there with and for him this weekend.

  34. Angela P says:

    :woof: PLEASE give Ross a peck on the cheek and great big hug! :heart: Im so proud of him, :airkiss: all of them. I cried! I had goose bumps or are they now chicken bumps??? How amazing! :happyfeet:

  35. evelee says:

    It is funny how one can be both happy and sad at the same time, happy to know that as a mom you did pretty good and sad to know that your child is not longer a child but a adult. When did that happen you ask yourself ! Very proud of your son and very proud of you, give yourself a pat on the back.


  36. Melinda says:

    Wonderful photos of an awesome day! I am so happy for you that you got to see Ross finally!!! Enjoy your weekend!

  37. Dawn says:

    Congratulations! You must be so proud!

  38. claudia w says:

    Awesome! Truely awesome!
    Your words at the end made me cry though. Happy tears.

  39. Gayle says:

    Congratulations Ross! And Thank you for the service you will give to your country!

  40. northcountrygirl says:

    How very proud you must be! Ross, thank you so very much for choosing to serve your country. You make us all proud! God bless you and keep you wherever you go. And Mom, I can only imagine how happy you must be. Have fun, hugs and kisses to Ross, and come home safely.

  41. Leah says:

    Enjoy your family time together,and thank you to Ross for serving his country!

  42. Drucillajoy says:

    Beautiful…all of it, I ‘teared up’ when I got to the photo of him laying on the bed talking on his phone…the comforts he has had to sacrafice…good job Ross, you & your family got thru it.

    As I look at the photo’s, and then read that the recruits are instructed to remain by their division flags while their families rush from the stands, sorting through the sea of white to find their own….I can’t help but wonder about & feel sad for those recruits who may not have family members there to see them, as people come from all walks of life & great distances.

    I will think about this post a lot as I go thru my day today. Enjoy the weekend & savor every moment together. Drive safe on your return journey…I’m thinking of you!

  43. Angelia M says:

    Crying again – LOL CONGRATS, again! Have a wonderful weekend together.

  44. melody says:

    You have to be so proud no picture of the two of you,but I can see your smile from ear to ear…Ross you need to be very proud of yourself.

  45. Kim W says:

    How exciting to see! How wonderful for YOU! In Spring of ’76, my high school sweetheart went into that Navy & attended Great Lakes. I went w/his family for his June graduation. We did NOT get the luxury of sitting in that nice, air conditioned hall…nooooo…we, along w/the grads & paraders in full uniforms, sat out in the blazing sun in the grandstands. But it was still wonderful for see; my boyfriend was in the rifle drill team & that was amazing in itself.

    Have a wonderful time w/your sailor & your family.

    Blessings from Ohio…

  46. Nancy says:

    You go Ross! HAHAHAHA, no more “birth control” glasses! When my son graduated we ended up at WENDY’S…big ole Chicago and we ate at Wendy’s! I am so happy for you Suzanne! :snoopy:

  47. Linda says:

    Again, Congratulations and God Bless. 🙂

  48. Jo says:

    Congratulations to Ross and all of you! I am so very thankful for his service and the sacrifice you all are making for my family and this country.

  49. The Retired One says:

    How awesome…congratulate him and then congratulate a mother you must have been SO proud and so touched by the whole experience. How wonderful for you ALL!!!!

  50. Dani says:

    Lump in my throat. Tears rolling down my cheeks. Thank you for sharing.

  51. Connie in Fla says:

    Congrats to your son Ross and to you for raising a hardworking son. I was a Navy brat. Both my parents were Navy (my dad was 20 years, almost all of it on subs) and they met and married in Great Lakes. It is wonderful to see the pictures of the graduation ceremony. There’s nothing else like a military graduation or retirement ceremony to make me cry.

  52. Stephanie says:

    Congratulations!!! To all of you:) And please tell him from our family…thank you for serving!

  53. Nancy says:

    Your post brings it all back to me, SO clearly! My Beautiful Baby Girl graduated in the winter time. I remember the night of her graduation we went out for dinner. There was a bad snowstorm and the road back to the base was closed by downed power lines. Katie was so worried that we’d get back late as we didn’t know an alternate route. I assured her that it’d be OK. That the Navy would understand if we were late because of the weather. Katie assured me that it would NOT be OK and if she was late they could cancel her leave for the next day! As proud of my BBG as I was/am, I was not very happy with the Navy at that particular moment in time…

    You have every reason to be proud of your son and he has most certainly earned the right to be proud of himself!

    Bless you all…

  54. rileysmom says:

    How beautiful! Suzanne, you shared the emotion so well (Thank you for sharing) I sit here with tears in my eyes, too. I am so proud for you and Ross.

  55. Wendy B. says:

    I’ve just started following your blog about a month ago and have become so attached! I, too, teared up reading about his graduation and am so proud! Congratulations and thanks are in order from my family to yours!

  56. KentuckyFarmGirl says:

    You went and made me get all teary-eyed! I am so happy for all of you!!

  57. Darlene says:

    Congratulations Ross! And thank you for the choice and sacrifice that you’ve made. We are all so very proud of you and all the other wonderful men and women in the military. May God’s face shine on you always and keep you safe. Suzanne, what a wonderful mother you are to three beautiful kids. Thank you for sharing, the pictures say it all and (I’m happy to see I’m not alone) brought me to tears.

  58. Rose says:

    How handsome he looks. He has grown into a man in a few weeks. Wow!!! Congratulations and a huge thank you to Ross. Wonderful photos. Thank you for sharing. I still have tears in my eyes.

  59. Cheryl in Michigan says:

    Thank you for sharing with us! As a mom, I got all teary. How proud you must be. Congratulations.

  60. Annie says:

    Congratulations to Ross and your entire family! Best of luck to him at A school – being selected for the Nuke program is an honor in and of itself. Thank you Ross for your service! Enjoy your time with him!

  61. Bonnie says:

    Awesome! Thanks for sharing such a beautiful moment of your lives with us. My husband (Air Force veteran, 2 tours in Viet Nam) believes all kids should have to go straight into a service branch from high school to learn exactly what Ross just learned. Accomplishing goals, sacrificing comfort, surviving hard work and being proud of your success. Congratulations Ross!

  62. Susan says:

    That is awesome! Congrats!~

  63. Carol Langille says:

    You have your Sailor and we have another Hero. He looks wonderful, Suzanne….mature and calm and totally capable.
    I don’t know why…such a strange thing, really,….but I can NOT read about Ross and his military life without tears coming. I know you and your family only through this blog but something touches my heart here and keeps me coming back every day. Even on days that I cry when I try to read the words. Amazing. And I am grateful for the opportunity to know you.
    Good job, Ross. Good job, Suzanne.

  64. Cousin Sheryl says:

    Congratulations, Cousins! Give Ross some warm hugs from his cousins at the old farmhouse! Have a great time in the Windy City and “safe harbors” for Ross’ journey to SC and your journey home, Suzanne and kids. We’ll be waiting for you!

    All is well with BP and the gang according to “52.”

    :heart: :snuggle:

  65. Aimee says:

    Congratulations, Ross! Thank you for your service to our country!

    Enjoy your sailor, Momma!

  66. bonita says:

    Ross, we’ve come to know you a bit through your mother’s blog, but now you stand apart, ready to serve your country. Thank you, and know that there are lots of blue candles—virtual and real—burning for you as you make your way in the Navy. Congratulations young man.

    Oh, and Suzanne, any sighting of Thelma at the graduation?

  67. ML says:

    Congratulations Suzanne! You’ve brought tears to my eyes, what a proud Mama you must be of your handsome son. Thank you for sharing such a special moment with us. And thank you Ross for serving your country!!

  68. Jill says:

    Another Angel to watch over us and protect us in the future! Congratulations Ross for a job well done. May God protect you and give you many blessings for your future.

  69. Suzi Castiglione says:

    Wonderful pictures….congrats to you, your Sailor and your family.

    :hissyfit: My son also had PIR yesterday….Ship 7, Div 280. What a wonderful experience… heart is full!!


  70. Kim Gibson says:

    I am just back from 2 weeks camping, and what a wonderful thing to see when I returned! Congratulations! Another strong sailor to guard our shores, to keep open the sealanes of communication, to deter our enemies. You are justly proud, and surely as happy as could be!

  71. Marty says:

    I’m glad he is okay. I was praying for all of you this weekend.

  72. Miss Becky says:

    he makes me proud :yes: :yes: :yes:

  73. Lisa says:

    :woof: CONGRATULATIONS ROSS !! :woof:

  74. Bill & Jewell says:

    Congratulations Ross, we are so proud of you. Blessings to you and your family.

    Jewell & Bill

  75. Mary says:

    :shimmy: Congratulations Ross! Way to go! Beautiful pics, Suzanne. I know you are one proud mama!!!!!! :sun: Ross, I salute you! 🙂

  76. lavenderblue says:

    Congratulations, Ross! Congratulations, Proud Navy Mama! Thank and hug that boy for us, will ya!

  77. becky says:

    congrats!!! I graduated from bootcamp in Orlando. FL. that is where the women went in the 80’s…..

  78. kelsea says:

    I found your blog through a google search – i am so glad i did!! My fiance leaves for bootcamp in jan. Seeing all your wonderful posts/pitures made me so proud and excited!

  79. Sherry Sitor says:

    I enjoyed seeing the pictures of Ross’ graduation! I’m glad you had so much time to be together.
    I’m glad things went well as you shared about the reason for your mom’s absence at that special
    occasion. Funny, when family has been away from each other, the most important thing is spending
    time together and talking. God bless you, Suzanne! I love you! Aunt Sherry

  80. Heather says:

    I know this is an old post but I just had to comment. My hubby and I got married liberty weekend (graduation weekend) in Great Lakes. He to enlisted as a Nuclear MM and was slated for submarines. He went to school in Orlando (one of the last classes to do that) From there we moved to Saratoga Springs NY where he was picked up as Staff (instructor) for 2 years. During that 2 yrs. he went to college and got his bachelors degree. He put in for Officer Candidate School and got accepted! He left the Nuke world and is now a Supply Officer. We have loved our military life (though at times I have been ready for it to be over). Jan. marks 15 yrs. I hope your son is happy with his choices. I know we have been happy with ours.

  81. Denise says:

    Congratulations! I have been in your son’s shoes! I was in the Navy in 1980-84. Yes, the graduation ceremony is something to see. I was on the drill team and I must say it’s one of the biggest accomplishment I have made in my life. I love the Navy and your son looks fabulous.Your son is a great American. God Bless him and his new beginning in the Navy. ~Denise from Michigan~

  82. Lanette says:

    I wish I would have found your blog sooner. I totally would have invited you all for dinner! My husband is in the Civil Engineer Corps (the officer ‘part’ of the Seabees, so I’m sorry that didn’t work out for your son!) and we are currently stationed at Great Lakes. I am a New England girl who never wanted to leave the East Coast, but we LOVE our Navy life!

  83. Judy Frazier says:

    The US Navy graduation brought back many memories of my own son’s graduation in Florida, he now is in the Navy for 18 1/2 years and it has been an adventure for him as well as me. Graduation from boot was happy and sad, but what a change in his personality, he had traveled all over the world and had so many experiences that he will always recall. Wait until the first time you witness the carrier return from a 6-9 month deployment, talk about the NAvy doing it up right with ceremony and traditions, it is truly awesome. Be available to listen to him as he goes through this adventure and be proud of him.

  84. IamWendy says:

    This post hit me pretty hard today. I have had a heavy heart for a few months now. My 19 year old is trying so hard to go into the Navy but there seems to be some sort of….? Lag? They called him Q&J quilified no job. We are waiting for him to go to MEPS but they keep saying “next week, we promise” It’s a goal we are really working for and seeing your post gave me such hope. You picked me up and made me smile. I could feel your pride in him and your love fell into each word you wrote. Thank you for giving me a smile today and hope that things will “speed up” for my son.
    Go Navy!!

  85. carlye says:

    You must be so proud of your son, the hero! I am a Navy mom also, although my son is back in the civilian world now. He is 42 and is an RN and EMT/.paramedic, education courtesy of the GI Bill. It was the best career move he could have ever made. He became a man overnight, something his friends back home struggled with for years. I will include your son in my prayers tonight.

Add Your Thoughts