Our Marine Has Started School!

Sean in front of a Marine MRAP

When I last posted an update on our Marine (a month ago!), he was preparing to start his technical school in Pensacola, FL. I’m happy to report that he’s doing well, making good grades (nearly at the top of his class!), and getting into the swing of things. And we just saw him for the first time in two and a half months!

When he found out that his truck was allowed on base, we offered to drive it out to him from Denton. We got a head-start on a long-ass drive by stopping in Shreveport on Thursday evening…..which shortened the next day’s drive to a mere eight hours. We visited five states altogether, including a long, diagonal slog through the middle of Mississippi. Other than one hideous stretch on the outskirts of Mobile (akin to ten drives through the middle of Marble Falls all stacked on top of each other), the drive wasn’t bad.

photo courtesy Geico Sky Typers

We spent just a couple of hours with Sean on Friday, since we were pretty beat from the drive. The next day,we visited the nearby Pensacola Naval Air Station (one of the prettiest military bases I’ve seen, with its lush palms and large tracts of green), hosting its annual Blue Angels Homecoming show. Many static displays and the aromas of funnel cake and sizzling meat and vied for our attention (Sean saw the B-52 as it flew in; those monsters are hard to miss). Among the various aerial shows, the Geico Sky Typers stood out. This isn’t your typical “one plane makes letters with smoke” outfit. A squadron of six planes flies in perfect formation, “typing” in the sky. We got criks in our necks watching them type and trying to guess the words. Mesmerizing.  And they fly a mean airshow, too.

The day culminated with the final show of the year by the Blue Angels, the Navy’s elite performance flying team. Although I couldn’t watch the “converge together fast and close” stunts (I watched the Ramstein Air Show accident in 1988 from 600 yards away), the show entertained and wowed me…..and the crowd.

Sunday brought a visit to the unexpectedly impressive National Naval Aviation Museum. With its myriad aircraft and instructive murals, we learned a lot. (Did you know that there are WWII airplanes at the bottom of Lake Michigan? The Navy trained there with worn-out aircraft.) Sean took photos of several displays about the Battle of the Coral Sea; his grandfather served as a sonarman on a destroyer escort during that (and other) battles. BTW, Sean is fourth-generation military. Sean, his dad (Air Force), his paternal grandfather and that grandfather’s dad (both Navy). Sean is very proud to uphold that tradition.

We visited a wine festival after lunch, then drove out to the gorgeous Pensacola Beach. Soft, white sand and blue Gulf are not what this grew-up-near-Galveston gal is used to. But alas, chilly weather precluded a longer visit.

As far as Sean’s daily logistics go, they’re up at 4:30am for physical training. After breakfast and clean-up, they head to class at 6:30am. The station hosts numerous classes in several buildings; most students are Navy. Class lasts until 12:30pm. Needless to say, vast quantities of coffee are consumed.

He participates in an optional workout program in the afternoon, so he’s getting two solid hours of physical training every weekday.

He finally moved into a barracks (semi-private rooms/baths), rather than an open squad bay. He shares a teeny-weeny room with another young Marine. But it’s at least more private than one big open room (and one big open shower) with 25 guys. The chow hall serves meals, so he doesn’t have to cook (they have a microwave and fridge in the room).

We can’t wait to see him again at Christmas! With not a lot of leave built up yet, we’ll once again make the long trek to Pensacola….but it will be worth it!

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Posted on November 28, 2011, in Tech School, US Marine Corps and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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