I had the distinct pleasure of watching my twin daughters (Christina and Jeanie) graduate from Air Force Basic Training, at Lackland Air Force Base, San Antonio, Texas. If your loved one is graduating from basic training, and there is any way at all you can attend, I highly recommend it. It's an experience you will never forget.
WARNING: The information in this article describes *MY* trip to Air Force Basic Training graduation. This is the schedule and what happened when *I* went. The times and events you experience may be different. For the *current* lists of dates, times, and events, contact the Lackland AFB Basic Training Reception Center at: (210) 671-3024.
A week or so before the graduation you should receive a two-page brochure from your loved one with information concerning the graduation. Part of this packet will consist of a temporary vehicle pass, which you will need to drive a car, and/or even get onto the base during your visit (unless you are active duty/retired military, in which case your normal military vehicle sticker will suffice). If you do not receive the vehicle pass, or have more than one vehicle, don't worry. You can get a replacement/more passes when you first arrive at the base, at the visitor's center at the Valley Hi or Luke Street Gates.
The basic training graduation schedule always begins on Thursday evening, and ends on Sunday evening. If you can plan to be there during the entire four days, it's well worth it.
Thursday : We drove, and timed our arrival at 1030 hours (10:30 AM) on Thursday, so that we could attend the events briefing scheduled for 1100 (11:00 AM). The events briefing is conducted several times, all day Thursday, and once on Friday morning.
If you are driving to San Antonio, or renting a car at the San Antonio Airport, you will be arriving on one of four major roads: I-10/Hwy. 90, Hwy. 281, I-37 or I-35. Local traffic conditions are particularly congested during week days between 7:00 AM to 9:00 AM and again between 4:00 PM to about 7:00 PM
Arriving from the East on I-10 or Hwy 90: Travel straight through San Antonio on I-10/Hwy 90 West. Exit on Military Drive Turn left onto Military Drive. Travel South approximately 1 mile to the Luke Street entry gate which will be on your right.
Arriving from the North on I-35, Hwy. 281 or I-10: When you enter San Antonio, turn right onto Loop 410 West. Take exit #7 Valley Hi /Lackland AFB. Remain on the access road until reaching the Valley Hi intersection. Turn left onto Valley Hi. Travel East approximately 3/4 mile to the Valley Hi entry gate, which will be directly ahead.
Arriving from the South on I-35 or I-37: When you enter San Antonio, turn left onto Loop 410. Take exit #7 Valley Hi / Lackland AFB. Remain on the access road until reaching the Valley Hi intersection. Turn right onto Valley Hi Travel East approximately 3/4 mile to the Valley Hi entry gate, which will be directly ahead.
If you are flying to San Antonio, I STRONGLY recommend you rent a car at the airport. While you can travel via taxi or bus to Lackland AFB, it will be extremely difficult getting from your hotel to the various events at Lackland throughout the graduation weekend, if you are not driving a car.
From REDLEG, a member of our message forum, who recently attended a graduation ceremony at Lackland: If you don't want to rent a car, or you are not old enough to rent a car, you may wish to try MAC TRANS, tel (210) 670-8855. Rates from their business card:
- To/from Lackland AFB (and surrounding hotels) to to/from Airport = $15 per person (but if there's two or more people riding, it's $10 each)
- Transportation on base (from one point on Lackland AFB to another) - $3.00 per person
- Transportation to/from a location on base to/from local hotel - $4.00 per person
- Transportation to/from a location on base (or local hotel) to/from the San Antonio Downtown area - $12.00 ($6.00 per person for two or more)
Once you enter one of the gates, there are signs which will direct you to the Basic Training Reception Center, which is located on Carlswell Street. The Reception Center opens at 0800 (8:00 AM) on Thursday, and there are scheduled events briefings throughout the day. Even if you don't plan to attend one of the briefings, a member of the family must sign into the reception center to make sure your recruit will be available during the visitation periods. This is EXTREMELY important. Do not attempt to surprise your family member by not signing in. If you do so, you run the risk that he/she will be scheduled for Dorm Guard or some other detail during the visitation periods, and you won't get to see them. When you sign in, have their squadron and flight number handy (it will be on the invitation you receive in the mail, and is also part of the mailing address you've been using to write to them while in basic). Having this information handy will make it much easier to find their name on the visitation list.