Until a few days ago, the last time we saw our son was in May, as we dropped him off at the airport. He had joined the Navy and received his orders to report to Officer Candidates School (OCS) in Newport, RI (the opposite coast from where he lived and grew up). It's a twelve-week course that takes college graduates, with or without prior military service and turns them into Naval Officers. It has a reputation for being the toughest officer training program in existence. A multimedia series entitled "Pushed to the Limit" gives a pretty good idea of what he endured over the last three months.
For the first few weeks in class 18-08, contact with him was brief. He was only allowed a single phone call each Sunday, and we relied on contact with other candidates' families for news and photographs. The first pictures I saw him in were about a month after he started--at chapel--about the only time the candidates can relax. Of course he had to mug for the camera.
It was about this time that he was "rolled out" of his class into Holding Company for minor illnesses. "H" is also where candidates who need more time to pass certain tests before moving on. At first, he was devastated for going to "H", but it gave him time to recuperate and to catch up on some of the online courses required there. He also had more time to communicate with us by email.
When Class 19-08 had passed the point he was at two weeks prior, he joined them and remained until graduation. He managed to send us a couple shots taken at inspections, so we could see how he was progressing.
And then, as 18-08 neared graduation, command was turned over to his class, and they transitioned from Officer Candidates to Candidate Officers ("Candi-Os"). It was now their turn to command the rest of the student body. Here you can see him shortly after change of command at an outdoor barbecue.
Finally, the day of his graduation approached. On the night prior, we got to see him in person for the first time since May. The event is called "Hi Mom", and it's a reception where family members get to meet the class officers and Marine Corps drill instructor that made their life so interesting over the last three months.
Here's our son with his DI:
Here he is with his class Chief Petty Officer:
And his class officer, Lt. Valle:
The next morning came the graduation and comissioning. Our son was high enough in the class to carry a sword, assigned as "Tail Gunner" for a patrol from a junior class participating in the ceremony.
After the graduation, they stood for the official class picture:
And a final shot with the Chief DI (also DI of "H" Company), whom he now outranks:
Our son is now home with us, but only for a week. He'll return to Newport to begin training as a Surface Warfare Officer. In just a few more weeks he moves to Pearl Harbor and will be stationed aboard the USS O'Kane.
I've told him he'll need a second bedroom in Hawaii, since everyone he knows will be "dropping in" for a visit.