And finally, a recap of the ever-elusive grad week!
After my two minute phone call on Sunday at 10:38PM EST, I didn’t hear from Andy again until Monday night/Tuesday morning, at 1:57AM EST. We got to talk for 45 minutes! It felt SO wonderful to be able to catch up and even to talk about not important stuff. It was also during this call that I realized Andrew was in CST, an hour behind me! No wonder he didn’t think it was too late to call (it’s never too late, guys- make those phone ring)!
After being bussed back to Benning on Tuesday morning (at around 6AM CST) and arriving on post at about 11AM EST, Andrew was able to call me again on on Tuesday night at 8:31PM EST. We talked for 19 minutes. He told me to get ready for his pass the next day!
Class 11-12 had two passes during grad week.
On Wednesday the guys got their long pass. They were released at 12PM in the Camp Rogers parking lot (same place for Darby pass) and were back in formation by 9PM, which meant having him in the parking lot of Camp Rogers by 8:30PM.
Previous classes had the short pass on Wednesday and the long on Thursday, but because another class was just finishing RAP week and drawing equipment from CIF for Darby, 11-12 had to shift their schedule. On Thursday they turned in their equipment to CIF and were then released. I picked him up 5PM and were back in formation by 9PM (again, 8:30PM in the parking lot of Camp Rogers).
During both passes, we just relaxed and Andy ate. And ate. And ate. Which is a good segue into…
When grad week is upon you, make sure you have stocked your pantry. And when you think, “Holy crap, this is so much food. I may have gone overboard!” – go out and buy more groceries. Everything from fruit to peanut butter to frozen pizza to meats to ice cream with every possible topping. Make sure you’ve got it all. Because your Ranger will eat you out of your home. They have a “take-no-prisoners” attitude when it comes to food, and they can put it away faster than you can make it. Starvation is a scary thing.
After about two weeks, the ravenous eating starts to level off and return to normal. But during those two weeks it was not uncommon for me to find my husband sitting in the office in the dark, on the computer looking at the Ihop website scrolling through Cinnastax pics, while munching on some Hershey Kisses. Food porn. It’s real.
I got to the parking lot at 8:15AM and the line was already about 15 people long. They started seating people at approximately 9:30AM. Note: the walk down to the stadium is steep. I did it in boots with a heel and a stroller. It was NOT easy. Neither was running up to change a diaper in between the demo and the ceremony. I recommend stashing flats in your purse and wearing an easy on/off heel.
The demonstration hour began at 10AM. It was an entertaining and exaggerated look at some of the skills the rangers were taught during the course. I definitely recommend arriving in time to see it. Directly following, the graduation ceremony took place at 11AM.
Here seems as good a place as any to brag about my amazing husband. At the Class 11-12 graduation ceremony, Andrew was presented the Distinguished Honor Graduate Award and the Officer Honor Graduate Award. In other words, he smoked the crap out of Ranger School! I have never been more proud of my husband than I was that day, standing behind him holding our daughter, watching him receive such high honors.
Andrew remains so humble about his experience; he couldn’t have excelled without such an amazing group of guys going at it with him, especially his squad- the original 11-12 Alpha 2nd Platoon, 1st Squad.
After 62 days, 29 letters sent, seven letters received, four phone calls, three passes, two packages and one graduation…Andrew got his tab.