Evie and I left our hotel early, hoping to beat some of the traffic and get a good spot to watch the Airmen's Run. Apparently everyone else had the same plan because it took us almost a half hour to get through the Gate. Finding parking was interesting, and we had to squeeze ourselves through the throngs of people in order to get close enough to see anything. But we finally got situated, and settled in to wait for the Run to begin.
I wasn't exactly sure which color shirt Michael's Flight would be wearing though he had thought they would be wearing red. Thankfully someone carried a flag with their Squadron and Flight numbers at the front of each Flight so the guess-work was eliminated. They ran by so quickly that it was nearly impossible to distinguish one recruit from another so I just snapped a couple random pictures. Luckily I managed to get him in a shot.
After the Airmen's Run, we had to wait around for 2.5 hours until the Coin Ceremony. We sat in metal bleachers in the hot sun, but Evie behaved wonderfully. That was probably due to her toys and a few rocks she found lying on the ground.
At this ceremony, they were promoted to Airman from trainee, and received the Airman's coin. We didn't have a great view (their backs were to us), but it was still an emotional thing to attend. This is the two sides of the Airman's Coin:
Although the ceremony was interesting, we were most excited for what was to follow: getting to see Michael for the first time! The Airmen weren't allowed to move until someone came up to them so it was left to us to find him--and because they all look alike with their buzz cuts and matching Blues, it took a few minutes. But we finally did, and it was amazing!
The rest of the day was pretty fantastic. Because of delayed flights, Michael's mom and sister and his best friend weren't in town until later so we had almost the entire day to ourselves. We drove all over base to see everything that Michael only knew existed because of the map he had been studying longingly for the past eight weeks. We played at the amazing base park, ate some Chinese, and just talked. We talked so much that by the end of the day Michael was losing his voice! But after two months of only communicating via snail mail and a ten to twenty minute phone call each week, we had a lot to catch up on.
It only took Evie a few minutes to warm back up to Michael. He had been worried that she'd be shy or even have forgotten him, but she did fantastic. She played with him a lot that day, and gave out plenty of hugs and kisses.