He was originally set to go to the Military Enlistment Processing Station (MEPS) on Feb. 8, though still on standby. His recruiter, Sgt. Armstrong, was confident that a space would open up, but it was moot because of the blizzard. No one shipped out that week. The following week Parris Island wasn't scheduled to receive any recruits, so the earliest date became Feb. 22. In the meantime someone did drop and so Austin went from being on standby to definitely leaving on the 22nd. That was helpful to all of us because we knew our goodbyes would be real.
So Sunday Sgt. Armstrong took Austin and another pullee to a hotel in Baltimore. Here's Austin and Sgt. Armstrong at the recruitment office. They've built a good relationship over the last six months, and we think a lot of the Sergeant. He's a good guy, and should hear soon of his promotion to Staff Sergeant.
Monday morning all the pullees were taken from the hotel at 5 a.m. to MEPS at Ft. Meade, where they had final checks on paperwork and a physical exam. In the meantime, Pam, Ariella (Austin's girlfriend) and I headed to Ft. Meade for the swearing in ceremony, arriving just before 10. All branches use the same MEPS to swear in and ship out their recruits. We got to watch some Army recruits get sworn in, and then the Marine recruits came in. Here's Austin "at-ease" after they received some instructions and while waiting for the swearing in to begin.
Then the families were allowed into the ceremony room. A non-commissioned officer came in, welcomed us all, and made some introductory remarks.
(He was actually from the Army, but the oath didn't sound particular to the Marines, so I guess it didn't matter.)
Then Austin raised his right hand and was formally sworn into active duty for the United States Marine Corps.
Then we had to wait. We took some pictures in the Ceremony Room (and Austin is hating every moment of it), then had lunch, played a little pool, and waited.
Then they loaded on the buses, the Marine recruits in the first bus, which would go straight to Parris Island, and the other services on the second bus which would take them to BWI where they would fly to their basic training sites. We expected most if not all of the Marine recruits to fly as well, but we don't know why they all went on the long bus trip.
One last wave goodbye through the window:
And then he was gone.
But boot camp hasn't started yet. It doesn't really start until Saturday when the platoon is introduced to their three drill sergeants.
Then hell will break loose and Austin will be on the way to becoming a Marine. Before then, though, he and every other recruit will wonder what in the world were they thinking when they signed up for this.
I smile whenever I say that, but I am very proud of him and can't wait until Friday, May 21st, Graduation Day, when he is no longer called Recruit Eubanks and is called Private Austin Eubanks, United States Marine.