There are certain events in our lives we never forget. Remembering those times is more important the older we get, and consequently, the further back in time we need to go! Boot camp was one of those important events, and you should remember and share it with others who went through the same experiences.
Joining the US Navy was one of the most important steps we made in our lives. Our memories of that time might be mixed: we may even have hated boot camp at the time, but it was a terrific learning experience. It taught us to be part of a larger unit and to support our shipmates while taking personal responsibility, and to look and act like a sailor. It was a life-changing experience, and the first time some of us had been away from home and for most, the first time we were truly challenged.
In many ways, it molded us into the people we are today. We now stand tall and proud of our service and should remember how we got there and the people who made it happen.
We hear this a lot: I can’t find anyone from my company/I won’t know anyone.
Yes, you will know someone. You’ll know ALL of us. We all have boot camp in common, and we all have stories to tell and memories to dig up.
Photos from Robin and Sandy
Here’s the proof: Before the first reunion in 2016, most of the attendees (and volunteers) had never set eyes on each other before. It only took a few minutes—literally minutes—before we were all chatting and laughing together like long-lost friends. Honestly, you will be chatting and laughing, too, about your own experiences, not only at boot camp, but at schools and commands later on, too.
Photo by Robin Moore
The day we all went to Blue Jacket Park was really a highlight of the reunion. There we stood, on top of the grinder (pretending we remembered how to march). Looking around was really a little surreal; being there was exhilarating but also a little sad, of course. We’re so glad it’s a beautiful city park now instead of a parking lot, though.
Photo by Lorenzo Belga
One of my favorites parts of the reunion was seeing the Company Commanders who attended. They were constantly surrounded by former recruits, asking about their service in Orlando and the companies they pushed. The CCs at the reunion cared enough about their time at RTC to remember it, too, and share their memories. Just showing up was a tribute to all of us.
Photo by Darlene Cusano Barkan
The reunion was the most fun I’d had in a while, and we volunteers heard those words over and over from attendees.
Read some of the reactions from the first reunion:
- “That was a fantastic. despite not a single person from my company was there. I met so many new people and it was so much fun. No matter how many more of them we have, I will remember that one as a cherished memory equal to my eight-week residency at RTC Orlando. Thank you to everyone who made this happen!” ~J.B.
- “Had a blast. Met great shipmates. Will do again in the future.” ~C.C.
- “I am so grateful for the opportunity to be a part of this group. My week at the reunion was the best time I have had in many years. All of you will not understand how much it meant to be able to say the event reminded me of the best time in my life. Thank you. Now my best friend said she missed me and I should get back to reality.” ~C.W.
- “A good time was had by all. I loved it, what I could go to. Gonna take more pictures next time!! Love to all my friends until we meet again!” ~M.B.
- “You ALL are just AMAZING, getting everything organized so quickly… If you need anything let me know how I can help. I’m excited to meet each one of you.” ~A.D.
- “Memories fly through your mind and, in my case at least, some tears made it out of my eyes. Being on the ground where you realize how much affect you had on so many people is humbling. Your heart feels rewarded and you thank God for having placed you where He needed you at the time. All the housing community and sporting venues disappear from your mind. It was a respectful memory for me, a Company Commander. So much more rewarding than the mess we found at the Bainbridge RTC.” ~M.A.B.W.
- “And thank you and your team so much for making it happen! I had a blast and now belong to ‘Company 2016’!” ~L.A.B.
- “What an incredible reunion it was! I cannot even fathom all the hours of toil that went into making the reunion a success. Simply saying thanks does not feel like enough, but THANKS to all who worked behind the scenes for months and months to make everything spectacular!” ~S.S.
- “Already planning on attending the ’18 reunion, with some guys from my company this time.” ~D.B.
- “Thank you and all who contributed in organizing such a wonderful and memorable event. I truly enjoyed myself. It was fun meeting new shipmates of all ages and walks of life who could relate to the experience of boot camp and where it all began. Thank you. I look forward to future Reunions.” ~R.R.
- “I attended the ceremony at the park and BBQ. Had a great time walking on the tour of the north grinder and rehashing sea stories at the BBQ with fellow shipmates. I’m sure a lot of memories of our time at RTC were going through our heads as we walked beneath the oaks and stopped and did the group picture on the steps of the fountain.” ~L.W.
- “Had a marvelous time and look forward to 2018.” ~M.A.B.W.
- “I had such great time! I feel like I have gained a new family. Can’t wait to see all of you again!” ~C.T.
- “The reunion was AWESOME!!! Thanks to everyone that made this possible. Made some great new friends, too! Can’t wait until the next reunion. Maybe I will bring my boson ‘whistle’ next time!” T.S.