Y’all, I don’t think I’ve ever been so proud, and I mean that. I could write a whole book about our trip down to South Carolina to see Private First Class Brendan Hogan graduate from Marine Corps bootcamp, but one longish blog post will have to do.
It was a long trip, a very long trip. We left early in the am on Wednesday morning and hauled it down to Wilmington to pick up sister Anne. Noodlebug was in a pretty happy mood for this 6 hour trip….daddy even let her drive, although he had to talk to her about the dangers of chewing one’s fist while driving:
The second half of Wednesday’s drive, an additional 5 hours from NC to Parris Island, she understandably wasn’t as happy. NC is one huge pine swamp, SC inland didn’t seem much better and it was the most monotonous drive I have ever done. The lowlands coast in SC was really nice, but as anyone who has gone down to Parris Island knows, it isn’t easy to get to and requires incredibly indirect routes to get there.
Thursday morning we were up and on base early to watch the motivational run. All the platoons in the company run in formation led by the Commanding General of the base….they are already Marines at this point, it’s just to have one last hurrah together and show the families. My mom and I were standing talking about how we probably wouldn’t be able to pick him out of his platoon because we weren’t particularly close to them and he’d be in line. But when his platoon marched up I looked up and realized he was carrying his platoon flag. That was so cool, seeing him leading his platoon in the run was just awesome, but at this point we didn’t realize what that meant, we figured they picked him because he was the best at running and carrying the flag or something. (of course I didn’t have my camera for this although I really, really wish I did)!
After the run as we were getting ready to head out the family of PFC Brendan Hogan was called to the center pavilion. We ran to find my parents who hadn’t heard and made our way there trying to speculate what the heck they needed us for. That was also the first we learned of Brendan’s accomplishments PFC= Private First Class which means he had gotten promoted from Private. So we were pretty excited about that. We met with a Staff Sergeant who was very nice, but she wasn’t really giving us any information at first, just chatting with us, and I think we were all a little on edge trying to figure out what was going on. She finally looked at us and said, “Oh, he didn’t tell you? He is the Honor Graduate for his platoon,” ummm, nope, he failed to mention that incredibly big piece of information. The look on my parents face was priceless….(again major fail to me for not having the camera). We also found out that meant we got special front row, cushioned, not bleacher, don’t-have-to-wait-in-line seats for the events including graduation….bonus.
Brendan got on-base leave a little while later and we got to spend the day with him, and it was so great, to spend the day with him and see where he had lived for the past 12 weeks and hear all kinds of lovely stories about boot camp (although I’m certain we didn’t hear the half of it). Graduation on Friday morning was wonderful, Brendan got to wear his Dress Blue uniform (which only the honor graduate from each platoon got to wear), and in my opinion is the best looking uniform in the whole military.
It was surreal to see him march in at the front of his platoon in that uniform. It was just so incredible and I was so proud to see my little brother in that uniform, receiving his award.
Receiving his award
Second from right
At attention with his platoon
The super-proud parents!
I had to post this one although NoodleBug is uncomfortable b/c he’s actually sort of smiling…
The babe and I would have been a bit more dressed up if we had realized we’d be front and center with the award winner!
The drive home was miserable, absolutely miserable, but it was so worth it to be able to be there for Brendan. Now he’s off to the next phase and we aren’t sure when we’ll see him again, but we sure are proud of him!